Thursday, December 4, 2008

Book Review: Winning Low Limit Holdem by Lee Jones

The overwhelming impression I have of this book, is that you could lose an awful lot of money by applying its strategies in the wrong game. Don't get me wrong, it's a reasonable book and contains a lot of good advice - but much of that advice is predicated on the game being very loose and very passive and most definitely full ring. In fact, a more fitting title would be "Winning in loose passive full-ring holdem games", but I guess that doesn't ring so well.

The book is pitched at so-called "low limit" games - up to around the 5/10 level, but I have to say that I am far from convinced that most or even many games at that level are as loose and passive as Lee Jones assumes. The third edition is a couple of years out of date, and so in particular his comments about the looseness of online play is pretty much obsolete. Also it is very hard to find full ring limit games online now, and it would be a disaster to translate Jones' advice to the 6-max games.

Another frustration is that the advice is often quite vague. I have been reading 'Stox' recently (another review to come of that book - when I have fully absorbed it), and the very precise analysis and advice in that book is in stark contrast to Lee Jones' book. Admittedly, the books are pitched at completely different audiences and games, however I still think Lee Jones' book would do better by being more precise in its advice and more clear on the assumption upon which such advice is predicated.

There are a few places where Jones makes statements that are just simply wrong in my view. I would be interested to know if anyone else agrees.
  • He advocates checking JJ and AK in the big blind, planning to checkraise favourable flops. In my view you have too much preflop equity not to raise with JJ and AK, regardless of the number of callers.
  • The advice almost always assumes there are many players seeing the flop. While this is often the case, even in loose games there will be a proportion of hands which are two or three handed on the flop. Therefore his advice to automatically give up hands like top pair no kicker or second pair on the flop is going to lose money in those occasional shorthanded on the flop situations.
  • He says to checkraise with an overpair on the flop only if you expect that to knock players out, otherwise to bet out. In my view, if players are likely to call two cold, that is an excellent reason to checkraise, therefore maximizing your equity.
  • He gives an insane piece of advice in the section on "dealing with a maniac" where there is a flush draw on the flop. He advocates folding TPTK when the flush card comes on the turn. This makes no sense to me. I am generally calling down even when the fourth suited card hits the river.
Overall, this is a book that is worth reading but that must be examined critically. I would not recommend it to a beginner, because there are too many ways that they can misinterpret or misapply the advice. Two stars out of five.


parttimebonuschaser said...

your review is probably fairly reasonable. its definitely not aimed at 6max. i read all of 10 pages before writing it off for the games i play in.

i'll stick to borer et al, and stox

TiocfaidhArLa said...

I'd agree that it is for a special type of game. The Star City $5/$10 game would be a good spot to apply these recommendations.

The blindman said...

I read Lee Jones with the local FR limit casino game in mind. It is food for thought, but even there the advice needs to be applied judiciously.

One thing I didn't mention in the review is that there is an extended section on internet poker and the sit 'n go. The Sit 'n go advice is actually pretty good, but it looks really out of place in a book that is predominantly about low fixed limit cash games.