Thursday, October 7, 2021

The ICM book

 There’s a saying in sports that it’s much harder to stay at the top than to get there, to retain a title than to win it for the first time. I certainly found that to be true in my running career. I never successfully defended a title, and if I’m honest, I have to admit that the motivation to repeat a former success was never as strong.

When I wrote my first poker strategy book with Barry Carter, “Poker Satellite Strategy” I hoped it would sell well (mostly for Barry: I’m a professional poker player for whom this was a side venture, but his livelihood is writing so I wanted it to sell well enough to make it worth his while) and be well received. I felt absolutely no pressure though: had it flopped miserably I’d have shrugged and just moved on to the next thing. I think one of my strengths is that I don’t mind failing so long as I’ve given something my best effort, and I don’t dwell on failures. Folding is an underrated skill in poker and life: knowing when to accept you’re just not destined to win a hand or a pursuit, and just cut your losses, fold and move on to the next one. 

However, the first book was a success beyond my mildest dreams, and I did feel a certain pressure with the follow up “PKO Poker Strategy”. Mostly I didn’t want to disappoint the thousands of readers who had messaged me to say that the first poker book was one of or even the best poker book they’d read, and one that had made a massive difference in their poker lives. 

The success of the second book rolled the pressure on to book number three, “Endgame Poker Strategy: the ICM book”. A ton of work went into this book running thousands of sims and trying to distil them down into communicable concepts. Barry thinks this is our best book yet, and the early feedback has been very positive. It’s certainly the least niche: ICM is (I believe) the most important concept in tournaments and the one that’ll make the biggest difference to your bottom line. 

It takes a village

Barry and I have always gone the self publish route, figuring a traditional publisher wouldn’t generate sufficient additional sales to compensate for taking most of the profit. That’s worked out well for us, but it does place the onus on us to do everything ourselves. However, we have been incredibly fortunate at the number of people who stepped forward willing to help, whether it be content review, proofreading, promotion or whatever. These are all thanked in the acknowledgements section of the book (although I’m quite certain I forgot a few) but I’d like to pay further tribute to some of them here. It takes a village to help two village idiots write a book.

I would really like to thank all of our advance readers for their feedback and suggestions, including Sameer Singh, Daniel Dvoress, Conal Prendergast, Danny Sprung, Kevin Snelgrove, Katie Swift, Paul Romain,  and Jennifer Shahade. Sameer, Daniel and Danny deserve special mention for going above and beyond in the thoroughness of their review and the excellence of their suggestions. Danny did the first and final proofreads on the book, turning it around in under 24 hours in both cases!

I would also like to thank some of the people that helped us get this book over the line, including Kat Arnsby and Saron Harford. Thank you also to everyone at Unibet Poker, ShareMyPair, Cardschat, RecPoker, GambleOnline and for their support over the years. Thanks kindly to K L Cleeton whose excellent app Range Trainer Pro helped us produce some of the hand grids in this book.

A special thank you to my friend and Twitch phenom Kevin Martin, who invited me on his stream to talk about the last two books. Several of the “gorilla maths” methods in the newbook arose from in depth discussion I had with Kevin who always asks the best questions.

Thanks also to thank David Lappin for being our unofficial hype man and ‘5th Beatle’ for the last three books. David also gave us feedback on the first draft, although this looked suspiciously like an exact copy of his feedback on the last two books, “include more anecdotes”. However, we took this advice to heart and if you liked the anecdotes to illustrate and break up the heavier strategy sections, you can thank David. If on the other hand you think rambling anecdotes have no place in a strategy book, please direct your abuse towards him.  

Finally I dedicated this book to Sean Ua Cearnaigh, my father who passed away last year. He instilled his love of learning and words and cards in me from an early age. Starting even later than me, he ended up publishing over twenty books in his lifetime, so I have a long way to go to catch up!

A special message for the Irish

Unfortunately we discovered Amazon are struggling to send paper books to Irish customers. We are working on the issue but until then, you can get it from the French Amazon almost as quickly as you used to be able to from the UK. We will have some copies at the IPO this month in Dublin if you are going.


The timing of the release ended up being somewhat fortuitous in that it came out just as I came out of a period of playing online almost every waking hour for six weeks because of the various online series that were happening. While the grind went very well (I had one of my biggest upswings ever, which I only partially ascribe to positive variance. I think the hundreds of hours I spent studying sims in the final push to get the book out bore fruit by considerably improving my game), a period of playing less was just what the doctor ordered. Promoting the book has been the main priority as well as catching up on other fronts that got neglected like coaching and content creation, so I’ve done a bunch of podcasts and a Twitch appearance (I’m open to doing more in the next few weeks so hit me up if you want me on your pod or stream) and interviews. I won’t bore you with a list of them all (that’s what my Twitter is for) but I will say this one conducted by Lappin was a lot of fun. 

As I said above, when you self publish, you have to drive the promotion yourself. This has been my main focus since the book came out, and will be for the next few weeks. So far it’s going very well, with the book climbing to the top of the Amazon charts following in the footsteps of the last two books. 

One thing that helps massively on this front is earlier reviews so a big thank you to those of you who took the time to do this, and keep them coming!

On that front Barry and I will be doing a book signing at the.....


Live poker returns to Ireland on the 22nd of October, the first event since March of last year. That was the Unibet Open in the Bonnington, so it’s fitting the first event back is another Unibet sponsored event, the IPO. Lappin will be making the trip from Malta, while Barry is coming from Sheffield, and I’m looking forward to catching up with scores of others I haven’t seen in 18 months. Satellites and feeders are now running on Unibet. Hope to see you all there at some point in the weekend!



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