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Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play Paperback – July, 2004
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About the Author
Ed Miller grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. He received an S.B. in Physics and another in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT in 2000. After a year teaching, he moved to Redmond, Washington to work as a software developer for Microsoft. Looking for a new hobby, he deposited a couple hundred dollars in November 2001 to play $1-$2 and $2-$4 hold em online. After losing his initial stake, he sought to improve his game, and he found the books and website of Two Plus Two Publishing LLC. He participated in discussions on the forums, and after a few months he turned his losses into wins in a $4-$8 game at a local card room.
By January 2003, he had moved up to $10-$20 and $20-$40, and in March he left his job to play poker full-time. By then he had swapped roles on the online discussion forums from beginning player seeking advice to expert player giving it. After six more successful months playing in the Seattle area, he moved to Las Vegas, where he currently resides. Also in 2003, Dr. Alan Schoonmaker, the author of The Psychology of Poker, introduced Ed to David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth, and a partnership soon was born with this book being its first result. Today Ed usually plays between $10-$20 and $30-$60, but he can occasionally still be found in the $2-$4 to $6-$12 games around Las Vegas.
Top customer reviews
To be fair, he advocates a tight/aggressive style (sort of) and he does not advocate staying in with weak starting hands just to chase the action...... but that propensity to chase comes later, fully supported by the math of course.
This approach might work in Vegas, I don't know. I played for years at many different venues (cash and small tournaments), but I never played a regular table as wild and loose as described in this book. In my world, this was an unrealistic scenario.
The underlying concepts are sound, but their application is taken to a unrealistic extreme. Chasing is chasing, no matter how you present the mathematical logic. You won't beat a loose wild table by becoming loose and wild with them...unless you just get luckier. I know they published it, their name is on it, and they presumably endorsed it, but I can't imagine Sklansky or Malmuth EVER playing this way.
Regardless of the glowing reviews (a little "Madness of Crowds" maybe?), the style of play advocated in Small Stakes amounts to "chasing", if not desperation. The high praise of this book is further evidence to the fact that most poker players....lose.
I understand what Miller is saying, but his application just fails the "real world experience" test, at least in my world. He introduces some sound poker concepts, but treats them as if you are playing in a vacuum, ignoring other considerations, and tries to mathematically justify "chasing" based on a probabilistic concept. This is a one-sided, irrational use of the various poker concepts he discusses. An experienced player knows there are other concepts and realities involved, such as money management.
It's worth the price for the instruction and insight into starting hands, the basic poker concepts, and the various "odds" he clearly explains. He explains them much more clearly than the majority of poker writers, I only wish he would have stopped there.
That said, you are looking at a pretty typical Sklansky book. Sklansky does not insult the intelligence of the reader; he assumes the reader is already a decent to good player, familiar with Hold Em play and general strategy, and is not entering his first live game, but wishes to maximize his profits at that game instead. His advice is detailed, well explained, and when counter-intuitive, backed up by some persuasive reasoning. There are charts and tables, all kinds of hand breakdowns - most likely these are best NOT memorized but used more as a way of organizing your approach to the game situation. Rigid play will lead to losses, even at games well stocked with fish. And there are lots and lots of such games available, both online and live.
Not all small-stakes games will fit the profile as here defined - the reader/player will need to use his own judgement about passive/aggressive and loose/tight every time he plays - but when the circumstances are right, Sklansky's book is all about calibrating your game to extract the maximum advantage. And as such it has value and belongs on a poker players bookshelf.
This book is not for those who just want to have fun playing and improve their game a little. Reading this book will require time, thought, and alot of mental effort. In addition, you will probably re-read this book many times over the years as your game improves and you gain more experience. However, this book is not for beginners. You will need to already understand the basics of the game in order to understand this book.
I also recommend "The Theroy Of Poker" by the same authors, "The Hold'em Odds Book" by Mike Petriv, and the video "Caro's Pro Poker Tells" by Mike Caro. If you gain a working knowledge of what these books and videos teach, you will be better than at least 90% of your low limit opponents. However, I have to stress that it is impossible to get anything out of these books from a quick reading. They will require alot of time, thought, and mental effort. If you just want to have fun playing poker without losing too much money, these are not the books for you. There are lots of other books out there that will teach you the basics and give you a few tips, if this is what you are looking for.