Book Review: Modern Poker Theory

By Shannon Mack
February 06, 2020

Ed. note: For further poker learning, be sure to check out the Modern Poker Theory Video Packs (2-part series). Our review can be found here.

Head on over to your bookshelf and put all of your old outdated poker books about GTO into a box. You don’t need them anymore! The information in those pages is now obsolete and incomplete. There’s a new kid in town and its name is Modern Poker Theory. I can’t imagine that a more comprehensive book on the subject of GTO will ever be written. This is it, the buck stops here; Modern Poker Theory is the final stop on the route. The book’s mastermind Michael Acevedo has arrived and he is taking us along for the ride, so strap on your seat belts and get ready to learn a LOT about poker!

Modern Poker Theory

I have always had a fascination with brilliant people, but even more so with brilliant people who can explain what it is they know to us mere mortals. What use is it being a genius if you can’t communicate what you know? Michael Acevedo is the whole package. He has a background as a mathematician, is a professional online player, coach, and leading poker theorist. If you want to improve your game and increase your win rate, pay attention to what Michael has to say. He was also a financial analyst, so he knows a thing or two about increasing dividends.

One of the greatest aspects of this book is how user friendly it is to apply during off-table study. I have read many poker strategy books and most of them are not as easy to use as Modern Poker Theory. What I mean by that specifically is that in this book the chapters are arranged in such a way that you can easily reference specific information about a given spot you are studying. If you are on an online poker forum doing hand analysis, for example, you can very quickly look up what range and at what frequency the villain should be calling the hero’s 3-bet with in position. You can then just as quickly find the specific section in the book detailing what ranges and frequencies the hero should C-bet or check raise with. There is no other book like it in this regard. You can practically use it in real time (although, you might not want to try that at your live home game this week with your buddies!).

There are a lot of people who see the letters GTO and their lights immediately turn off. They completely unplug when they see those three scary letters because they have heard a lot of misinformation about what game theory optimal really truly is. Do not be one of those people! While some people are overwhelmed, others just believe incorrectly that GTO “does not apply to their game.” You also don’t want to be one of those people either! Acevedo thoroughly and masterfully illustrates how and why GTO is the foundation you want to build your poker strategy upon.

Plainly put, he explains that GTO is the strategy you implement when playing against someone else who is playing GTO. In other words, it is the most optimal strategy to play when playing against someone who knows what you are doing. If you find that someone is not playing GTO poker, you can then play exploitatively. The thing is, if you don’t know GTO strategy you are the player being exploited. Period!


I know math can be terrifying. I know graphs and charts can be daunting. I know this because I myself am not one of the gifted few who are number crunching savants. Fortunately, as I mentioned above, Michael has a talent for simplifying complex concepts such that anyone can understand them. Seriously, he almost had me thinking I could do calculus. Almost!

The thing is, he not only breaks down the equations and formulas that poker math is comprised of, but he also explains the principles behind them. So even if you’re struggling to grasp the math, he still unpacks GTO strategy in a way anyone can comprehend by using countless easy-to-understand examples. He illustrates step by step, in laymen’s terms, what it all means so that you can apply GTO strategy to your game regardless of whether or not you understand the actual math behind it. In other words, he makes it such that you don’t need to be an auto mechanic in order to drive the vehicle.

Reflecting on my own learning process and growth as a poker player, the amazing thing is that once I read through Acevedo’s examples and his step-by-step illustrations, I was then able to go back and reread some of the equations that had been way over my head and make sense out of them! I literally learned some algebra from his teaching method. It was amazing!

Modern Poker Theory is great for both MTT and cash game players. The book may lean more toward assisting with tournament play, but the principles can be applied to cash games as well. The book truly is comprehensive. It even covers exploitative play, as Michael points out how to take advantage of your opponents in different scenarios where the villain may not be using a balanced GTO strategy.

He covers everything from basic concepts of core poker fundamentals to the more advanced elements of game theory. He also discusses poker software thoroughly. Even if you are already familiar with specific software that he discusses, you are certain to pick something up that you didn’t know before. Acevedo has clearly mastered GTO solvers and commercial artificial intelligence software. So, especially if you are plugging away at PioSOLVER or MonkerSolver and are getting questionable outputs, this book would be worth purchasing for that aspect alone.

To summarize, I feel like I am now literally able to box up half my poker books and toss ‘em into storage. They are no longer needed. Modern Poker Theory is five books in one. I can also recycle nearly all of my poker strategy notebooks that I have handwritten over the years. They are no longer needed. Modern Poker Theory is so well organized that I can use it almost in real time. I can sell all of my old college algebra text books, too. They are no longer needed. All of the poker math I will ever need to know Michael Acevedo has just taught me!

So, if you want to replace your old stack of dog eared, coffee stained, scribbled in poker books with a brand new one written by a genius, then Modern Poker Theory is the one and only poker book for you!



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Shannon Mack poker author
Written By.

Shannon Mack

Born in the Midwest in Bemidji, Minnesota, first city on the Mississippi, in 1978 in the disco era. Shannon has fond memories of playing poker during Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays with family as a child in the 80s; everybody was bluffing and nobody was folding! After getting his degree in Mechanical Design from St. Cloud […]


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