Final Table Poker with Phil Gordon

Final Table Poker with Phil Gordon

Poker professional Phil Gordon is accustomed to being in front of the cameras after his stint as host of Celebrity Poker Showdown, so one would conjecture that if he were to come out with his own poker DVD, it would be a quality release.  Those high expectations were realized with the 2005 release of Expert Insight’s Final Table Poker with Phil Gordon.

In this poker tutorial, Gordon allows the viewer into his head as he plays through a World Poker Tour-like final table.  During every hand that is shown, he details his thought process, explaining exactly what he is doing and why he is doing it.  Joining him at the table is World Series of Poker champion, Chris Ferguson, as well as Ultimate Fighting Championship announcer, Bruce Buffer.  The other three players are modeled after Jennifer Harman (especially obvious since her name is Harmony Jensen), Phil Ivey, and a typical internet stud.  Renowned tournament director, Matt Savage, calls the action, but he is not heard much in the video.

An interesting feature of the DVD is that it includes a beginner and advanced version of the same tournament.  In the beginner version, Gordon explains some basic concepts a bit more, but when it comes down to it, both are pretty similar.  He still goes through some of the more advanced concepts, such as implied odds, in the same detail in each version.  Those who have any experience with poker at all could easily start with the advanced section. 

That said, the advanced track is not all THAT advanced, so those with significant tournament experience will probably not get much out of this video except for a good refresher.  Players that are a bit newer to the game will receive some great lessons, though.

The commentary meshes very well with the flow of the game and Gordon does an excellent job with his poker instruction.  Part of the reason it flows so well is because the final table is scripted, but the production quality is so high that it feels like you are watching a real tournament.  It is an extraordinarily easy video to watch and at times is actually quite entertaining, as Gordon injects his sense of humor throughout.

A minor drawback to the DVD is that Full Tilt Poker commercials are interspersed throughout (as well as a quick clothing pitch), which is something that can take a little bit away from the enjoyment of an otherwise top-notch instructional tool.  In the portions where Gordon specifically speaks to the camera, it is easy to tell that he is reading off of a teleprompter, but that’s just me being nit-picky.

Is it worth a purchase?  Maybe.  There is no doubt that this is one of the best poker instructional DVD’s on the market.  The production values are second to none, the poker play is interesting, and Phil Gordon does a wonderful job at leading the viewer through the game.  But while the lessons given are important and well-taught, in the end there is not a ton of meat that merits multiple viewings.  It is easy enough to absorb everything after watching the video only once or twice.  If you can pick this up as a rental or borrow it from a friend, jump at the opportunity.  But the full purchase price might be better spent on a book with more heft.  One solid option would be Phil Gordon’s Little Green Book, which contains all of the concepts taught in the DVD and much more.  Final Table Poker would make a worthy companion to the book, as it is a good way to watch Gordon’s poker concepts in action.