Book Review: Excelling At Tough No-Limit Hold’em Games

By Shannon Mack
November 30, 2020

To say I was excited to receive Jonathan Little‘s newest book Excelling At Tough No-Limit Hold ‘Em Games, would be an understatement. Jonathan Little is a superstar in the world of poker. He has over $7 million in live tournament cashes, has written 15 best-selling books, is an advisor to Pocarr, and owns Additionally, he collaborated with Alex Carr, the founder of Pocarr, and almost a dozen other Pocarr coaches. I would expect nothing less from D&B Publishing, only the highest caliber authors and the most talented professionals in the game today.

Excelling at Tough No Limit Hold'em Games

Excelling At Tough No-Limit Hold ‘Em Games has everything I have come to love from D&B poker books. It includes practical tools that can be implemented to exploit recreational players and more advanced GTO fundamentals when playing against seasoned regulars. Jonathan Little and the Pocarr team drive home the GTO and exploitative principles using hundreds of real-world examples. For instance, Richard Hoadley, Main Coach at Pocarr, has an entire chapter filled with hands from his personal hand history. Have you ever watched a poker tournament on PokerGO and wondered what the pro was thinking as they choose their line from betting round to betting round? Wonder no more!

Jonathan Little has all of his bases covered in this one. He hits on all the aspects of the game that can take you to the next level. When we first start out playing poker, we develop tendencies that can be exploited by other vigilante players. We may still be winning at our current level overall, causing us to overlook these leaks. Think you know everything there is to know about continuation betting and defending against a continuation bet from OOP? Jon Van Fleet, with over $15 million in online cashes, would bet that you don’t! His insights into c-betting are so extensive and profound they couldn’t all fit into one chapter but instead needed two.

We can take for granted lines we have developed since we first started playing without knowing why we do it or if it is even optimal. Yeah, sure, you can be a winning player at the lower stakes but have unknown leaks that, if sealed, could propel you to a whole other level. The only way to do that is to accept that you don’t know as much as Jon Van Fleet and other Pocarr coaches about almost every aspect of the game.

It is actually a hard thing to acknowledge. In our heads, we are big shots cause we are crushing the low stakes. The truth is, if we concede that we may have shortcomings, we can then look to overcome them. Even professional poker players haven’t arrived. They continue to fight for an even greater edge against their opponents, never settling. They hire coaches. Well, guess what? Excelling At Tough No-Limit Hold ‘Em Games is written by those coaches that the pros seek out. The bottom of the book cover says, “How To Succeed Beyond the Small Stakes.” You want that, and Jonathan Little and the Pocarr crew can get you there! The ROI purchasing this book can’t be overstated.

One example I overlooked was how I played from the big blind in tournaments when I was shallow stacked. I had my default ranges that I called or folded along with a mix of premium and marginal hands I would check-raise. Pretty standard. Or so I thought. Pocarr coach Alexandre Mantovani to the rescue! He blew my mind when he suggested defending the UTG min-raise open with 77% of my range from the BB when nobody else ahead of me calls. This range seems incredibly wide! He points out that I can check-raise bluff with my OOP range when UTG’s range misses the flop, and it often does. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but you’ll get all the details in the book. Jonathan Van Fleet‘s hand history database shows that he is -68bb/100 when defending from the BB against a raise in non-all-in situations. He admits it seems like a bad result, but it is a fantastic win rate when compared to -113bb/100 when folding. This stat is a game changer!

Besides continuation betting strategies and c-bet defense from OOP tactics, the book covers a range of topics from mastering ICM to Progressive Knock Out Tournament strategies to basics such as passive exploits to crush the small stakes to adjusting your pre-flop game. All aspects of the game that I don’t want to take for granted. Even as a winning small stakes player, I can have tendency and frequency leaks that need to be plugged. There is always room for improvement, and the only way to increase my edge is to continue to study and research. The game changes; it is not the same game today as it was in the 2003 poker boom. D&B Poker keeps me up-to-date with the current cutting edge poker trends. This book is a must if you want to stay on top of the ever-changing game and move up the stakes and crush it.

Also, if you know someone who is an aspiring up-and-coming poker player themselves, this book makes for a perfect gift for the holidays! I know if I ripped into a present Santa left under the Christmas tree, and it was this book, I would be like a little kid who just got their first bike! So don’t be a Grinch; hook the poker player in your life up with Excelling At Tough No-Limit Hold ‘Em Games. Tis the season!



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Shannon Mack poker author
Written By.

Shannon Mack

Born in the Midwest in Bemidji, Minnesota, first city on the Mississippi, in 1978 in the disco era. Shannon has fond memories of playing poker during Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays with family as a child in the 80s; everybody was bluffing and nobody was folding! After getting his degree in Mechanical Design from St. Cloud […]

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