For a beginning poker player
with a limited bankroll, choosing just one book as the foundation for a smooth and successful introduction into the game can be a
daunting task. Quite often, long lists of books (from an ever-growing number of poker publications) are recommended by more experienced
friends and mentors which cover material beyond the scope of a typical $2-$4 or $3-$6 Hold’em player’s comprehension. Luckily, for the
vast majority of this target audience, Lee Jones provides the definitive answer for those with limited room on their bookshelves (and
limited funds with which to learn).
In Winning Low Limit Hold’em (3rd edition), Lee Jones (ex-poker room manager for the popular online poker site,
PokerStars) does an excellent job in helping the reader
understand the strategic adjustments necessary to be successful in the mistake-prone arena of “No Fold’em Hold’em”. Much to his credit,
Jones goes just deep enough into the theory of why a player is making a certain play over merely explaining the mechanics of doing so,
while avoiding confusion and overkill. He manages to stay very focused in each short chapter, and never loses sight of the theme promised
in the title – becoming a winning player at low limit games (up to the $5-$10, or $6-$12 level).
The advice is straightforward, concise and easily understood. There is nary a sentence wasted in Lee’s approach to teaching. In a world
of “if/then”, “probably”, “usually” and “it depends on” possibilities, Jones is decisive, keeps ideas simple, stays on task, and
presents concepts with examples in a seemingly obvious and immediately applicable manner.
Divided into four major sections, the book begins with a typical overview of the “how tos” of hold’em and the different games being
played online and in live cardrooms. This first section might be a tad slow to start off, but is necessary (for a beginner) and picks up
speed as its importance and relevance to later discussions becomes established. The second section “gets down to business” and describes
play (again, always focused on low limits) during the various stages of a hand (i.e. - pre-flop, on the flop, turn and river).
Jones’ frontline experience managing the poker room for one of the largest online poker sites, makes section three the one truly “from
the horse’s mouth”, as it covers poker and computers, playing online and an invaluable treatise on the one-table “no-limit sit-and-go
tournament” (broken down into several parts) Anyone who has already played online will truly enjoy Lee’s insights in this area. The
final section contains brief, but nonetheless important, chapters on miscellaneous topics such as player stereotypes (an excellent
summary), bluffing, bankroll considerations, discipline, the art of folding, etc.
Throughout the book (at the end of certain key chapters or sections), Jones tests the reader with quizzes that serve as airtight
summaries of the concepts and ideas presented in the preceding pages. Lee doesn’t cut corners by simply “cutting and pasting” facts,
figures or phrases into simple “if you have read the pages you should know these answers” multiple choice type questioning. These
“refresher courses” are well thought out and original variations of the themes and examples presented in the text, and really make the
reader think about the lessons in a more general way. The answers are provided immediately following each quiz, and discussed in some
detail. However, it is just as easy (and likely the author’s intent) for the reader to glance back into the clearly defined (and short
3-5 page) chapters to clarify any “on the fence” solutions before even looking at the answers given. These quizzes are quite valuable in
driving home the concepts covered along the way, and should not be skipped over even if the reader feels “he got it”. There are subtle
curve balls thrown into the questions that require a thorough understanding of the material they intend to reinforce.
Above and beyond covering every important aspect of limit hold’em that a beginner needs to learn in order to play a solid game in
general, Jones continually reminds his readers that the information is geared toward achieving success in low limit games. This is very
comforting; in that one never gets the feeling he/she is “wasting time” reading about inappropriate strategies that will not be
immediately applicable to their game. Not once does Lee go off on any “by the way” or “on the other hand” tangents, and only
occasionally does he even hint at having the urge to do so by including convenient footnotes that demonstrate he is staying focused on
the various aspects of low limit hold’em.
The book contains clear picture illustrations of “flop”, “turn” and “river” cards as the various stages of example hands are discussed.
Such graphics (an integral part of any good poker book) go a long way in helping to remember the situation at hand as the discussion
furthers along to following pages. They are also good practice for the beginner in learning the art of paying attention to suits, gaps
and the overall “texture” of a flop with a first glance.
Even the table of contents must be considered a major asset to the well thought out structure of this book. Every subject covered is
listed on a mere two pages. A quick glance can very quickly bring the reader back to a very specific discussion, as (once again) there
is very little in the way of extraneous material thrown in as “filler” here. The “cutting out the fat” approach to this entire work
makes Winning Low Limit Hold’em a great reference book, which will become even more valuable after the beginner gets his/her feet wet
with some online or live play, utilizing more and more of Jones’ advice after each review.
Including a courtesy bibliography of other poker writings to further advance the beginner’s progress reveals Lee Jones’ modesty. However,
there can be no doubt that his book alone provides all the tools necessary in putting a huge dent in the creation of an excellent low
limit hold’em player.