Poker pro and coach Jonathan Little has authored numerous well-regarded strategy books. For those who play lower-stakes no-limit hold’em, his Mastering Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em has been singled out by many as a great place to start for lower-stakes players looking to improve their games.
In the book Little shows readers how to play a solid, competent, decently aggressive style that will be profitable in these games. He provides both a basic strategy to crush small stakes games and identifies adjustments needed when facing more challenging competition.
Little starts out Mastering Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em with chapters about preflop strategy, including how to play when you are first in as the open-raiser, when facing limpers, when facing a raise, and other situations. After that come chapters focused on postflop strategy covering how to proceed after being the preflop aggressor and after calling before the flop, and other technical skills applicable to postflop play.
Little goes on from there to share advice about game selection, tournaments, bankroll management for a wide variety of formats, and how to avoid tilt yourself while taking advantage of it in others.
The following excerpt appears within the chapter “Pre-Flop Strategy: First In,” one in which Little lays out how you should size your opening raises when playing from early position, middle position, the cutoff, the button, and the small blind with stacks of 40-plus big blinds, 12-40 BBs, and less than 12 BBs.
In this section, Little zeroes in on how to play a medium-sized stack when it folds to you in middle position.
Middle Position Strategy: First In
Between 12 and 40 Big Blinds
As your stack gets shorter, you should adjust your range to favor hands that do not rely on implied odds. This often means cutting out some of the suited Aces and suited connectors and replacing them with offsuit Broadway hands.
When the action is folded to you, if your stack is between 12 and 40 big blinds, you should raise with this range from early position (Diagram 8).
Of course, if your table is on the tighter side, feel free to raise with some offsuit Aces and additional suited connectors (suited hands with one gap, such as 9-7s, count as suited connectors in my vernacular). As your stack diminishes to fewer than 20 big blinds, you have to be careful not to raise too wide, especially if your opponents are aware that they should go all-in over your pre-flop raises. There is no point in raising 8-7s if you will frequently get pushed on, but if your opponents are content to call and see a flop with a wide range of junk, 8-7s is perfectly playable because you will often win the pot after the flop by improving to the best hand or stealing the pot with a continuation bet. Always think ahead and try to figure out what will likely happen. If you think you will get pushed on a large portion of the time and you have a hand that cannot call an all-in, you should simply fold.
Some players may read the previous paragraph and take it to mean that you should consider open limping with hands that are decently playable but will have to fold to an all-in or 3-bet if you raise. The problem with this logic is that if your table is aggressive, your opponents will raise your limps even more liberally than they will 3-bet or push over your raises. This means that your limps will frequently be attacked, also putting you in a tough spot. If you somehow find yourself at the rare table where players will attack pre-flop raises but will not attack limps, then limping gains some merit. I, however, have never encountered a small stakes table where that has been the case.
*** BOOK SIGNING: For anyone at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas,
Jonathan Little will be there signing all of his books on Monday, July 1 from 2:00-3:00 p.m.
at the D&B Poker booth in the Rio hallway! ***
Mastering Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em is available in paperback, as an e-book, and as an audio book at D&B Poker.
D&B Publishing (using the imprint D&B Poker) was created by Dan Addelman and Byron Jacobs 15 years ago. Since then it has become one of the leading publishers of poker books with titles by Phil Hellmuth, Jonathan Little, Mike Sexton, Chris Moorman, Dr. Patricia Cardner, Lance Bradley, Martin Harris and more, all of which are available at D&B Poker.