Book Review: Jonathan Little on Live No Limit Cash Games Volumes 1 & 2

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When people think of Jonathan Little the first thing that pops into their head is usually tournament poker, and for good reason. Little, a two-time World Poker Tour Champion with over $6 million in career tournament earnings, has quite the tournament poker resume, and has written several books on the discipline.

But Little, like so many poker players, also quietly toils in cash games when he is eliminated from a tournament. Little calls live cash games, “possibly the most profitable arena in poker.” In a two-volume series titled  Jonathan Little on Live No Limit Cash Games he details the strategies he employs in these games.

Like most of his books, the two volume series was published by D&B Publishing, one of the top poker publishing companies in the world. I can’t say enough good things about D&B’s products, as they are well formatted and of exceptional quality, and On Live No-Limit Cash Games is no exception.

Volume 1 clocks in at just over 300 pages and costs about $27 on Amazon, while Volume 2 is a bit thicker at almost 400 pages, but costs slightly less, $24 on Amazon. Both are selling for just under $20 in Kindle format.

Volume 1

Volume 1 of Live No Limit Cash Games is subtitled, “The Theory” and covers the basic strategies Little employs in live cash games ranging in stakes from $5/$10 to $25/$50 or so. In my opinion the strategies and theories discussed would better serve you in lower limit games with stakes in the $1/$2 to $2/$5, and perhaps as high as $5/$10.

The book starts off by covering the very basics of No Limit Holdem for the first 25 pages or so, before delving into more advanced concepts and strategies, and at less than 300 pages there’s simply not enough meat on the bone to make this an advanced strategy book.

Live No Limit Cash Games is a terrific primer for players getting their feet wet at the live, low limit, no limit tables; it’s not for players looking to excel at mid stakes live No Limit Holdem cash games.

Don’t mistake this as me saying Little’s advice is wrong, or simple. I assure you, this is not what I’m getting at. What I mean is the book’s strategies by themselves are unlikely to add any value to someone’s game who is playing $5/$10 and higher or has a good deal of experience playing no-limit cash games.

Volume 2

Volume 2 is a workbook, subtitled “The Practice,” with a total of 105 hand examples from a variety of different games. Each hand example requires the reader to make several decisions, which are graded by Little through a point system based on the “correctness” of each answer.

I’m generally not a fan of these types of workbooks, as they often require the reader to acquiesce to the author’s point of view, and Little’s is no different.

Little’s workbook does an admirable job of setting up specific scenarios to cover the topics from Volume 1 of the series, but it still falls short when it comes to detailing each scenario and putting each situation in the proper context.

In poker the answer to a question is typically, “It depends,” and even with Little setting up each hand, this is still the case. There is still key, missing, information that could sway you one way or the other. Additionally, the idea that there is one “magical” line a player can take that trumps all others is not something I agree with.

This gets more tricky when you consider a player taking a different line to Little’s pre-flop decision could find themselves facing a completely different Turn or River decision, which could lead to a better overall line on the Turn and River.

For instance, I found myself openly disagreeing with Little’s choices early on in hands, which led me to considering lines that don’t even register as possibilities later in the hand.

Volume 1 and Volume 2 as a team

For me, the sum of the two books are greater than its individual parts.

A reader with an open mind can take Volume 1’s strategies to form a baseline approach to the game, and then use Volume 2’s examples of situational poker to educate themselves on when and why they should deviate from this baseline strategy. When combined with Volume 2, Volume 1 becomes far more advanced than it is by itself.

Who would benefit from Live No Limit Cash Games?

If you’re new to poker and are looking for a good No Limit Holdem cash game primer I would certainly recommend this two-volume set. If you’re a more experienced player I feel there are better titles available.

That being said, if you’ve read other books on NLHE, it never hurts to learn how other thinking players approach the game. By reading Little’s books you might be able to use his strategies to identify players with similar mindsets and playing styles in your own games.

You probably won’t be playing against Jonathan Little, but you’ll probably come across a number of Little clones in poker rooms around the world, and knowing how these players think can give you a deeper understanding of their approach to the game.

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