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336 of 343 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable and dangerous
I've read most of the poker lit and really like the Lee Jones low-limit book. It is accessible and provides pretty good advice on how to play the lower limit tables. Since most of the books out there assume you are playing good (read tight / aggressive) players, it was an important book for me. If you use the 'good play' paradigm at many loose tables, you play hardly any...
Published on October 4, 2004 by AmericanDane

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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Departure For the Sklansky Crew
I have to agree with many of the things AmericanDane said in his review. If you use this book as your 'poker bible,' and over extend yourself in an expensive (relative to your bankroll), tight and agressive game, you WILL go broke. If you try to invoke this books playing style without fully understanding the underlying logic or fundamental mathematics behind it, you...
Published on October 5, 2004 by Griffin


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336 of 343 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable and dangerous, October 4, 2004
By 
AmericanDane (Glen Ellyn, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Paperback)
I've read most of the poker lit and really like the Lee Jones low-limit book. It is accessible and provides pretty good advice on how to play the lower limit tables. Since most of the books out there assume you are playing good (read tight / aggressive) players, it was an important book for me. If you use the 'good play' paradigm at many loose tables, you play hardly any hands, and get bad beat too often -- so frustrating. Still profitable, but it always felt like I wasn't winning as much as I should given the (I believed) clear difference in game knowledge and good play practices.

I bought and read this book last week and was skeptical about much of its advice. It is not an easy read -- has the typical mathematic slant of a Sklansky book -- not in itself bad, but don't expect to breeze through this is an afternoon if you are not already familiar with calculating odds, etc. In my opinion the book often suggests raising on the assumption someone may be bluffing in a big pot situation and doesn't stress enough about factoring in your table read where you know you are beat (and therefore maybe just call or even fold). It also is short of detailed advice on turn and river play. The quizes in the back are good, but are light on a theoretically foundation of guiding play other than counting outs and a brief section on how to discount outs that may not really be there (get Ciaffone's Middle-limit Poker for this) I felt it was recommending WAY too loose guidelines and advice around staying in big pots when you KNOW you are beat (KNOW as in 'I've been at the table four hours and that guy only raises when he has the nuts -- I am beat).

Anyway, this weekend I went to the local Harrah's and played their 5/10 game (5/10 is the lowest limit), used the guidelines from Small Stakes Hold-em and proceeded to win 100 big bets in eleven hours. Wow. Of course, this is a sample set of one. And things generally went really well -- good cards, not too many river beats, etc. And the table makeup most of the evening fit the profile this book addresses to a tee. I didn't ignore my own reads at the table, etc. and played a bit tighter than the book recommended, but definitely the book influenced my approach to the game.

I still have mixed emotions about many of the suggestions in this book. I think that if you are an experience player used to playing tougher competition, this book should be viewed as filling out your knowledge in a poker niche of the highly-loose / somewhat-passive-hold'em variety. If you read this book as your first book because you are going to play low-limit and then run into a tight or aggressive table (whatever the limit), you are going to get killed. In other words this is a book for advanced players who understand 'correct' play. This book helps you optimize play for a certain specialty situation.

The book basically puts you on notice about this, but it is easy to lose track of while you read. Individually poor players when encountered as a group present certain challenges. The inmates are running the asylum and you have to get a little crazy yourself to a certain extent when you likely have the best of it. You do this knowing full well you are going to win fewer pots, but the size of the pots compensate. Judging the right and wrong time to join in (and stay in) is basically the specialty knowledge this book provides. It requires some sophistication and experience to understand these discussions.

I'm pretty sure a good many people are going to lose a good deal of money using this book as their bible. That's why I say this book is really valuable, but dangerous medicine. Don't make it the anchor point of your poker knowledge. Once you have that core down, this will help you win more when you play loose / passive small-stakes games.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sound Investment., August 10, 2005
This review is from: Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Paperback)
There's no question that when it comes to Texas Hold'em, the lowermost limits are extremely bewildering places in which to play. It's a Vietnam full of kids who think that the meaning of poker is to pretend that betting two fours for value means treating them as if they were a straight flush. There's what I call, "All in Disease," where every chance a guy gets, he tries to emulate his highly paid heroes on television and go all in. The only problem is that they usually believe that they can win when they do so. These clowns go after 15 dollars worth of blinds with their entire stake. It's demoralizing when you lose to them.

For this reason, I bought this book by Miller and company to see if there were a way in which to improve my game. The first helpful thing the narrative does is to put things in perspective. Any maniac or tomfool can win Hold'em in the short-term, as a player, my job is follow the percentages and maintain discipline. Even if I take a beating during one session, eventually, the numbers will rectify the situation in the end. Somewhat surprisingly, Miller's advice is that if you find yourself amid very loose tablemates, it's okay to lessen your hand selection values as they're calling with practically anything.

The idea of, "don't be tricky," definitely benefited me immediately. With so many callers, slowplaying is not a sound idea unless you possess the nuts. They're liable to come back from huge deficits to pummel you on the river. Don't let them linger. Bet them to death. If they want to see your set, make them pay for it--big time. Again, we learn what we already know, that aggressiveness is rewarded again and again in Hold'em, but it remains just as true in limit as it does in no limit. If you don't raise, you will be raised so its important to lead out after strong flops. The idea that many beginners spend too much time worrying about "good laydowns" is a great point. Miller thinks that it's more tilt-promoting to laydown a winner than it is to lose at the river; so calculate your odds of calling and how many times it has to be a winner in order for questionable calls to be income producers. Many times, that last call only has to succeed 1 in 10 times for you to make money on aggregate, so a call is mandated.

Overall, I was very pleased with this book. If you've ever wondered how you can be losing to the idiots you've been losing to, buy it. It returned me to profitability.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The new Gold Standard for beating loose games at all levels, July 14, 2004
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This review is from: Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Paperback)
I have now read an advance copy of the book twice, and some sections more than that. I can safely say that those of you who are so looking forward to this book will not be disappointed. The book is excellent.
Indeed, it addresses some topics so well that I wonder at the title. Calling it "Small Stakes Holdem" is really too limiting. The book targets loose games more than small stakes games per se. With loose games and poor playing opponents permeating B&M cardroom games from $3-6 through $40-80, this book really has something for everybody. Yes, newer players will get more from it than mid-limit veterans, but even the mid-limit players will find some critical ideas spelled out in a way that helps them improve their game.
It is an excellent blend that helps the newer players take the next big step to being significant winners, while at the same time it expounds upon and extends HPFAP in a way that addresses the super-loose games that permeate today's cardrooms. In short, it's the book that many have really been waiting for 2+2 to publish for quite some time. I expect this book to quickly move alongside Theory of Poker and HPFAP as a definitive 2+2 work. I recommend it highly.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best, most detailed analysis of limit hold'em ever, March 17, 2006
This review is from: Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Paperback)
The book is very good. It offers a wealth of information, strategy and "how to" for not just small stakes players but for players at almost any level of limit hold'em. The authors note that some of the strategies wouldn't be right for the big limit games, say, the $100 and $200, and certainly not right for pot limit or no limit hold'em; but I can tell you that most players up to at least the $30 and $60 limits would benefit from reading and studying this excellent book.

But a word of caution: the approach here is very aggressive with the authors recommending leading and raising with second pair in many situations, drawing to inside straights and playing drawing hands like they're already made, calling with third pair with backdoor possibilities, and in general playing a bit looser than might seem reasonable. Miller, Sklansky and Malmuth argue--convincingly most of the time--for some surprisingly loose and aggressive play justified by pot odds. Pot odds, current and implied, are one of their most important fundamental ideas along with "pot equity." They also go into depth about hands that are likely to be "dominated," and they introduce the reader to "reverse domination."

One problem with this approach is that most booked-up players in even games as small at the $3 and $6, especially on the Internet, play a bit tighter than the authors think they play. Miller is the only one of the three who regularly played games that small, and I don't think he was playing anything smaller than the ten and twenty when he wrote this book. This is the book's only real weakness: the authors have, I believe, mistaken the quality of the average small stakes player.

Regardless, the strength of the book is that every single play is illustrated by a concrete example showing exactly how much money is in the pot, who bet, raised and called, what their hands were, and what the board was. There is nothing vague about the recommendations, and many of the hands are analysized to a degree that will delight even the most erudite reader. In addition to the usual "afterthoughts" that are a trademark of Sklansky's books, there are 132 footnotes that work like afterthoughts. No doubt Malmuth, who can worry a subject to death, and Sklansky who likes to be precise, are responsible for many of these little addendums. Personally I find the detailed explanations and counter thoughts valuable. I like them a lot better than what I read in some poker books in which the world class player tells us why he likes AK better than AA, but doesn't fully make his case. Here nothing is left to doubt. Oh, we can doubt the strategy, and prefer a different way to play the hand, but we are not in doubt about why the authors like to play it their way.

Here's an example of a disagreement. On page 123 the authors claim that QQ with the flop, K72 rainbow, is "a strong hand (though it is on the low end of that category)." I beg to differ. If you have pocket queens and a king or an ace flops, you are in trouble. In the example, you can't backdoor a straight or a flush. You have an under pair. As the authors reluctantly allow, "If someone has a king..." you have two outs. Count them. And yet it's tough to release the hand.

Here's another: On page 162 you have AT of diamonds on the button. The flop is T86. The ten and the eight are spades, the six is a diamond. There are ten small bets in the pot from five players. The small blind bets into the field. One player folds. The other two call. What do you do?

The authors conclude that you just call because a raise is not likely to protect your hand since the small blind and the two limpers will most likely call another bet because they are getting good pot odds.

This is correct. But you should raise based on the VALUE of your hand. And if the small blind reraises it, the limpers might fold. One thing fairly clear is that the small blind probably doesn't have a better hand than something like king-ten or a flush draw. Otherwise, he would probably have reraised preflop. ...Of course he could have a set...or even nine-seven... Come to think of it, maybe just a call is correct!

But I'm quibbling. Here are a couple of things I learned that I think are valuable, and I've been playing for decades:

When the flop contains a pair, e.g., JJ4, this is recognized as a fairly good bluffing opportunity against one or two players. Most players know this, but why? Because there is one less card to pair, right? Yes, but it's more significant than that. As the authors put it, "When the flop is paired, only five cards [from your opponents' hands]...connect with the board, instead of...nine..." Check it and see. That's why bluffs into paired boards often work--and why you might want to raise the bettor!

Raising preflop with a fairly strong hand (say, AJs) against a field of players is usually correct even though you will win the pot less than half the time. Why? Because as explained on pages 237-238, you have a "pot equity edge" preflop. I'll leave you to figure that out--or better yet, do yourself a favor and get the book.

One more esoteric quibble: the authors mention "hidden outs" but they don't mention "hidden half outs" or "hidden one-third outs," etc. That would be when you have, e.g., zero, and your opponent(s) have you beat, but the river makes a straight or flush on the board and you split the pot.

Bottom line: the most detailed and most thorough small stakes hold'em book that I have ever read--easily.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book yet for the small stakes/low limit player, July 24, 2004
By 
This review is from: Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Paperback)
This book has instantly become my #1 recommended poker book for the player looking to advance from marginally profitable to stone killer. The text is advanced and readable. Miller explains complex concepts in a manner that is easily understood. Concepts such as pot odds, pot equity, playing overcards and many others are discussed clearly and concisely. While not necessarily a book for the brand new player, it is an excellent text for anyone with a few games under his/her belt who wants to really destroy the low-limits. Although this book is targeted at small stakes games (2/4 up to about 6/12), its concepts are easily applicable to looser mid-stakes games 10/20 and up. The first few chapters alone will earn you the cost of the book many times over.

Buy it. Read it. Sit at someone else's table.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Departure For the Sklansky Crew, October 5, 2004
By 
Griffin (Folsom, California USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Paperback)
I have to agree with many of the things AmericanDane said in his review. If you use this book as your 'poker bible,' and over extend yourself in an expensive (relative to your bankroll), tight and agressive game, you WILL go broke. If you try to invoke this books playing style without fully understanding the underlying logic or fundamental mathematics behind it, you WILL go broke. If you don't take the time to really think through the concepts AWAY from the book, to ingrain in your mind what data was explained to you and what details you will need to estimate and observe for yourself while at the table, you will go broke.

Basically, this book boils down to 'Call when the pot is large. If the pot is big enough, you don't have to win that often to have a long term positive expectation.' That's it. This is not to say that Sklansky and Malmuth don't pepper the text with their standard advice like minding your pot odds and an interesting new (to me at least) concept called pot equity. They do. However, if you aren't careful, this book can definately ruin your game.

With all of that said, I'm definately glad I read this book. It's advice is in stark contrast to that given in 'Holdem for Advanced Players' and rightfully so. The game has completely changed over the last few years and this shift has really thrown some players for a loop. Though I think that a lot of the assumptions this book is based on,(particularly those on an average opponents style Sklansky seems to believe that the average opponent is loose, passive, and fairly clueless rather than loose, very agressive) do not necessarily hold true for today's games, I still find the methodology valuable.

Any player who has read Hold'em and Hold'em for Advanced Players and finds themselves rereading the section on Maniacs trying to determine the best strategy for attacking the wild games they typically encounter these days should pick up this book. Last word of warning though - it's a take it or leave it style - you can't just incorporate certain plays or aspects of the text; It's meant to be taken as a whole or not at all.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book after playing 6 months, April 28, 2005
This review is from: Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Paperback)
There are, of course, dozens of poker books out there. Most of them have the same basic advice. Start with Lee Jones or Ken Warren. Learn that playing A4o and Q4s are pretty stupid plays. Learn that three cards to flush on the flop is not a hand. Learn that playing head to head and drawing to an inside straight is not smart. Learn how to play the basics of the game. Play small stakes and learn to take notes on yourself and your regular opponents. Buy PokerTracker and PokerOffice. Do some bonus whoring and build a bankroll.

Then, buy this book and read it over and over and over and over. The concepts are fairly complex (hidden outs, pot equity, positional considerations preflop, on the flop, and at the turn and river), but if you absorb them over time, you will win more money. Do I win every pot where I raise with a pair of Tens in early position - no. Does that aggressive behavior win me pots later when my KQs fails to hit and I bet into checked pot on the flop - yes. Do I sometimes feel pathetic raising preflop in midposition with AK - AJ when nothing has hit in hours - yes. Do people still call to the river with a weaker kicker when they do - yes. This is book designed to change the way you Think about small-stakes poker. Use it as a place to start and work out Your style. For instance, I play small-suited connectors much less than Miller et al recommend.

The Big Caveat - for this strategy to work, you have to find the right table. You try this on the .5-1.00 tables at Party on a Friday night at 11, you might as well throw your money in the street. But, let's face it, those games are lottery poker. You want a table with 2-3 calling stations, 2 really tight players, at least one insane person, and 2-3 more typical players. This offers your greatest value. Increase the crazy callers factor or the good aggressive players factor and you will lose money. In other words, pay attention to the game you're in.

But if you not only follow the concepts outlined in this book, but also absorb the lessons so that you change your approach to the small-stakes games you will emerge as a winning poker player.

Good luck at the tables.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read this book, please stay out of my game., July 25, 2004
This review is from: Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Paperback)
I have been playing low-limit holdem for about four years and have been a small winner during that time. I read this book four days ago, and it has explained concepts to me that I haven't seen in print anywhere else (among my twenty other books on poker). I now have a much clearer understanding of the mistakes that low-limit players make. I am now in the process of correcting my own mistakes and exploiting the mistakes of my opponents.

The sections on postflop play are priceless, with difficult but crucial concepts. Miller explains when to raise the flop, and when to wait until the turn. The concept of raising the river to knock out better hands is also given thorough treatment.

In the past four days, the book has already paid for itself in bets I've won and pots I've saved, playing low-limit Party Poker. It is tremendous.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some great plays in this book, July 23, 2005
This review is from: Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Paperback)
I'm a newbie who thought he knew it all. Telling people how to play, getting lucky playing every single hand. There were days where I would win $800-900 at 4-8 and thought it was all to skill. But then I started noticing that for all the days that I won, I probably lost 3 times more often and I couldn't figure out why.

This book is pretty instructive on when to play and what cards to play in low limit. My problem was I was trying to see too many flops with too many speculative hands. If you're under the gun and call with 5-7 o/s, if no one else calls then you're up against the big blind with a mediocre hand. I knew nothing of this.

Or I would flop trips and slow play them to the point where people were backing into straights or flushes and I didn't know how to protect my hands properly.

Using some new things I learned, I've starting playing a lot better and the results are looking positive. And I still don't prescribe to the theory of building up massive pots, I just play my hands smarter.

The other night I was playing live and I was getting bad beat like crazy. This one guy was snapping my hands like crazy, AA's beat by trip 3's on the river, KK's by trip 6's, he called a 4 bet raise with 7-2 and caught trip 2's on the flop. At least 15 times, no exageration. He was playing everything, 9-3, 7-3, Q-6, etc... all o/s and hitting the flop everytime I had a monster hands, it was extremely aggravating because he was snapping me but then losing the money to the others at the table... Anyways, I just kept playing normal like the book said and 8 hours later, he had lost all $700 and was down over $700 of his own and I was up $270. Now if he didn't snap me and redistribute my money to the others at the table, then I would have easily been up over $1000.

I think this book is definitely worth reading if only so you can steadily win $$ off of the players who just don't know when to sit out a hand.

10/10/2005 Edit *Since reading this book, I have been very successful in playing $4-8, I've only had 8 losing sessions and at one point I had 12 consecutive winning sessions. My bankroll is easily in the thousands now and my take since reading this book is over $5k. There is no guarantee that your results will be the same. However, I must stress that this book will mostly help intermediate/casual players who've been playing for about a year. Newbies should not read this book as you will not understand the discipline needed.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book For the Casual Player, February 17, 2006
This review is from: Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Paperback)
This book's biggest strength is that it provides a thoughtful discussion of situations one actually encounters as a small stakes recreational gambler. Far too many books on Hold 'em outline situations that the casual gambler almost never encounters at the table. Excerpts typically include something like, "You're playing at a $10-$20 table. A very tight player raises from under the gun, and a tough, observant opponent re-raises him from middle position..." Who are these people? My ideal book on Hold 'em would have hand situations where the drunk under the gun belligerently raises, only to be called by the guy who just won big at craps, the woman who pays to see the flop every time, and the college kid who thinks he's in the movie Rounders. Small Stakes Hold 'em is that book. While Ed Miller doesn't specifically name the players, he does provide great analysis about what should be done in large, multi-way pots full of people unlikely to be outplaying you either before or after the flop. Small Stakes Hold 'em does not make the bizzare assumption that your opponents are tight, good players looking to punish your mistakes. Also, Miller does not waste time talking about varying your play, disguising draws, masking tells, or any other techniques that are practically useless at the small stakes tables. He instead focuses on using the mechanics of the game effectively against predictable opponents who do not know what they are doing, and backs it up with solid explanations of the mathematical and theoretical concepts needed to do so. Unless you're planning on quiting your day job to play $15-$30 with a table full of professional gamblers, this is the book for you.
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Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play
Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play by David Sklansky (Paperback - July 2004)
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