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Small Stakes Hold’em: Winning Big with Expert Play

By Paul McGuire

This book is not for novices. It is designed for players who already have a grasp on the game. The authors are very blunt when they say that, “This book picks up where all other beginner books leave off.” Indeed, the premise of Small Stakes Hold’em is not just to turn you into a better player, but its goal is to also teach you how to become a consistent winning player by teaching the reader a tight-aggressive-attacking style.

Small Stakes HoldemMost players have read other poker books from Two by Two Publishing by experts David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth. They combine their efforts with the primary author of Small Stakes Hold’em, Ed Miller, who is virtually unknown. In order to correctly write an accurate book on low limits, the experience of someone who has risen through the ranks from the lowest level was a necessity. That’s where Ed Miller enters the picture.

Ed Miller is a MIT graduate who spent time in Redmond, Washington working for Microsoft. In 2001, he invested a few hundred dollars in an online poker account and lost it all playing low limit Texas Hold’em. He quickly became a student of the game reading as many poker books as he could find and participating in discussion forums on the internet. Within two years, he graduated from $2/$4 to $20/$40. Miller eventually quit his job and moved to Las Vegas to play full time. If you add his experiences to the teachings of Sklansky and Malmuth, you have the makings of a winning strategy, which you will find in the pages of Small Stakes Hold’em.

The book is broken down into seven distinct parts. Part One discusses fundamental gambling concepts, especially poker-specific concepts. This includes pot odds, implied odds, reverse implied odds, counting the pot, and pot equity.

Part Two focuses on preflop play. The authors discuss three hand types: top pair hands, speculative hands, and powerhouse hands. They stress the value of position. They spend time on starting hands specifically on non-pair hand attributes, playing weak hands out of position, cold-calling raises with marginal hands, and the importance of being suited. Included are hand charts for tight games and loose games.

Part Three is all about post flop concepts, including counting outs, backdoor draws, redraws, finding hidden outs, and evaluating the flop with made hands or drawing hands. They also go into the differences between playing in large pots versus small pots. Other topics such as raising to get a free card and protecting your hand are also discussed. Part three is the largest section of the book spanning almost one hundred pages. The authors indicate that many players focus too much on starting hands and do not pay enough attention to strengthening their post flop play.

Part Four is devoted to the river. Betting for value, overcalls, and how to play the river when the pot is big is discussed at length. Part Five is a discussion on miscellaneous topics such as table image, playing and evaluating overcards, loose flop calls, building pots preflop, and using tells to attack your opponents.

Part Six is comprised of more than fifty hand quizzes on preflop, flop, turn, and river play. This is one of the most helpful sections of the book. After taking the quizzes, you can see how well you have grasped the material that the authors have presented.

Part Seven contains over 160 questions and answers. The final section of the book is an excellent overview of every topic covered in Small Stakes Hold’em, including slowplaying, two overpair hands, and loose flop calls.

“The definite guide to crushing loose and amateur opponents,” is a phrase that appears on the cover of Small Stakes Hold’em: Winning Big by Expert Play and aptly sums up the essentials of the book. Small Stakes Hold’em is one of the best books written on how to play low limit poker against a large field of opponents that you will encounter today. The strategy suggested by Miller, Sklansky, and Malmuth in Small Stakes Hold’em is an exceptional guide to help you crush the loose games at the low limit tables in casinos or online at your favorite poker site. They say it can be applied to middle limits as well. It is recommended that you add Small Stakes Hold’em to your poker library.

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