No Limit Hold'em is undoubtedly the #1 poker variation ion the world right now and all the big poker tournaments we see on TV are played in this format. Before the big boom of No Limit Hold'em, Limit was the game played in the card rooms of Europe and America. Limit Hold'em is also the perfect game to learn poker and many of the big stars today started off with Limit. And while we see more and more of the low stakes No Limit tables disappearing from casinos all around the world, the Limit tables are there to stay. Therefore, learning a couple of things about Limit Hold'em is certainly not a bad idea, which is the reason I chose to discuss the book 'Small Stakes Hold'em' this week.
When starting to play Limit it is always sensible to start off at the lower limits. Online these are the Cent-tables, while in a casino the stakes might be around $2/$4. At these low limits you will encounter a lot of bad players, online as well as live in a casino, which know nothing about hand selection and tend to call any draw all the way down to the river. Your first reaction might be that these players are irritating and that there's nothing you can learn from them, but actually the opposite is the case. How to exploit the leaks of these bad players is something you learn in this book by Malmuth, Miller and Sklansky.
This book is not a handbook for the absolute beginner. The book assumes that you know the rules of the (Limit) game and that you are familiar with the poker terminology. The goal of this book is to enable you to get more value out of your hands when playing against these loose beginners.
Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play
Authors: Ed Miller, David Sklansky, Mason Malmuth
Publisher: Two Plus Two Publishing (July 2004)
Build up and content of the book
Don't expect any exciting stories about big bad beats or the nicest tournament wins. This book discusses the aspects of Limit Hold'em by using calculations, examples of game situations and the thoughts behind them.
The book is split up into a pre-flop and a post-flop section. The pre-flop section discusses what hands you can play in what position against what sort of opponent. Questions like: "Im sitting in early position with 7,8 suited at a loose table, can I limp? or "I have A9 off in late position at a passive table, do I raise?" are answered very clearly and in detail by using charts and illustrations.
Just by reading the pre-flop section you can already improve your game significantly because one of the most common mistakes in Limit Hold'em is playing too many hands. Nonetheless, the post-flop section is where the real value lies, as the mistakes your opponents make become more expensive here. The book describes this with the means of flop plays, turn plays and river plays. Malmuth, Miller and Sklansky describe concepts in their book that can give you a great advantage, such as raising for a free card, protecting your hand by not check-raising but betting and by making more plays that will immediately boost your winrate.
Following the chapter about the river and related plays, you find a chapter with numerous tips and practice situations. Live tells, image and bluffing when sensing weakness are only a few of the topics discussed in this chapter.
At the end of every chapter you will find a number of questions to test if you really understood all of the material. The answers to these questions can be found in the back of the book, but most of the questions are easy to answer as long as you understood what was being said in the chapter.
A big part of the book is made up of so-called 'Hand Quizzes', something we have also come across before in books like Harrington on Hold'em. These questions test your understanding of the things discussed to see if you can get the maximum value out of hands. Extensive answers to these questions can be found right below the question.
Writing style, layout and verdict
The style of the book is what you would expect a 2+2 book to be like – factual and clear. Malmuth, Miller and Sklansky clearly describe what play is the right one in specific situations and save pages by not including nice stories or random information that doesn't directly help improving your game.
The chapters are illustrated by charts that help clarify the material discussed. The only pictures we find are those of cards that help clarify game situations. The theories are often accompanied by calculations that are explained and clearly presented.
This dry layout if perfect for the goal of the book: to make you a better Limit Hold'em player.
If you belong to the players who play low-stakes Limit Hold'em, be it at the casino or online, and you are frustrated by the "20" players who call every hand and stick around until the river, where they hit their gutshot, then this book is for you. Also if you are actually a No Limit player but are interested in Limit Hold'em and want to start off at the lower limits, this book is strongly recommendable.