OK, I'll admit it: I tend to look
askance at anything that bills itself as a "Girl's Guide"
to something. But I know that Annie Duke is a no-nonsense,
honest-to-goodness poker champion, so I was interested in seeing what
she had to say in Annie Duke's Girl's Guide to Texas Hold'em.
What the title amounts to, I think,
is an effort to draw in an audience of female poker players who may
have the impression that it's going to be tough to break into the
undeniably male-dominated world of playing poker. Annie Duke is just
as straightforward with her advice here as she is in her
non-gender-specific instructional DVDs; she just takes the
opportunity to emphasize that women can compete against men
successfully without any special tricks. All it takes is some
self-confidence, and certainly Duke's a great role model there: she's
the absolute picture of self-assurance, but with a down-to-earth
quality that prevents confidence from becoming arrogance.
The Girl's Guide to Texas Hold'em
is basically an introduction to the game. The slightly more than
two-hour program starts with the basics of gameplay and moves into
various aspects of betting strategy, calculating odds, understanding
table position, and so on. She also discusses poker etiquette, and
finishes up with a section on "home games and beyond."
There's no doubt that Duke knows
what she's talking about, and has a wealth of practical experience as
well as skill. Unfortunately, the creators of these instructional
DVDs haven't done more than the bare minimum in terms of
presentation. The entire program consists of Duke seated at the poker
table, talking about the various topics; it's basically an audio book
that happens to have a video component, as there's no use of visuals
whatsoever. The program is practically crying out to have some basic
support elements, like a few other players to create simulated play
situations, but we get nothing but Duke talking. And let's face it...
she's pretty unpolished. The program feels unrehearsed, and at times
even unscripted, as Duke simply talks about a particular topic off
the cuff. As a result, it starts to get a bit tedious to watch.
This poker program has some solid
content, so it's tough to downgrade it on presentation, but the truth
is that it's definitely a bit rough around the edges. Given that
there are other poker DVDs out there that present material at the
introductory level, this particular one doesn't have much of an edge,
though women poker players may find it worthwhile to get inspiration
from Annie Duke.
The program is presented in a
workmanlike 1.33:1 transfer, with decent colors and a reasonably
clean presentation. There's not much else to say: it's a competent
but otherwise ordinary filmed presentation of someone talking while
seated at a poker table.
The audio here is rather lackluster,
which is definitely a disappointment considering that the program
consists of listening to Annie Duke talk about poker. While Duke's
voice is clear, there's a rather harsh and tinny quality to the
This DVD is billed as a "special
edition," though I'm not really sure why. It does have a few
special features, but not many.
The eight-minute "Casino Tips"
section actually takes us out of the room where the rest of the
program was filmed, as Annie Duke walks us through the process of
signing up for a game and playing at a casino. It definitely has the
feel of a promotion for Commerce Casino, but it's reasonably
informative anyway. We do get a genuine promotional clip for Commerce
Casino, but it's only half a minute long. A text poker dictionary and
trailers for the other Annie Duke DVDs are also included.
Last but not least is a two-minute
segment that I quite liked. In "All-Girl Tournaments" Duke
takes a moment to strongly encourage women to go out and play in open
(mixed) poker tournaments, pitting their minds against the men on an
equal footing. You go girl!
Annie Duke's Girl's Guide to
Texas Hold'em has the merit that it may inspire women poker
players with more confidence, but it's not the best beginner
instructional DVD out there. While Duke clearly knows her stuff when
it comes to winning at poker, her presentation skills for sharing
that information could use some work. If you're interested in getting
poker tips from Annie Duke, I'd suggest that a better purchase would
be the intermediate-to-advanced How
to Beat the Big Boys, which has the same presentation
problems but offers a depth of material that's not really offered
elsewhere. As far as the Girl's Guide to Texas Hold'em, I'll
suggest it as a rental.