Book Review: The Micro Stakes Playbook By Nathan Williams

October 25, 2017
Book Review: The Micro Stakes Playbook By Nathan Williams


Nathan “BlackRain79” Williams has established himself as one of poker’s foremost experts and teachers when it comes to the topic of low-stakes no-limit hold’em games.

Williams has a decade of experience playing poker and has worked as a poker coach and created training videos for poker training sites.

Williams is also an author, and he recently penned his third book on the low-stakes games he’s most familiar with. His new book is titled, The Micro Stakes Playbook: Simple Poker Strategies For Massive Success, and it definitely delivers on its promise.

You can purchase The Micro Stakes Playbook directly from Williams’ website for $29.95.

Before I delve into the Micro Stakes Playbook I want to talk a bit about Williams’ previous book, Modern Small Stakes, which lays the foundation for his latest tome.

Thoughts on Modern Small Stakes

Full disclosure, I am a big fan of Williams’ second book (I haven’t read his first book, “Crushing the Microstakes“) Modern Small Stakes. I’ve read a lot of poker strategy books, and regardless of game type, no poker primer has had a bigger impact on my ability.

After reading Modern Small Stakes, the improvement in my NLHE game was instant and noticeable.

As a NLHE cash game neophyte, Williams’ book armed me with a better understanding of why I was doing things, and most importantly, removed a lot of confusion I had in certain situations, eliminating a lot of the guesswork I had been doing prior to reading MSS.

In a previous review, I commented: “It was as if everything was blurry when I played NLHE and Modern Small Stakes was akin to putting my glasses on.”

Overview of The Micro Stakes Playbook

The Micro Stakes Playbook builds on the knowledge and information from MSS, and does so in under 270 pages – MSS clocked in at over 500 pages.

Once again, Williams targets low-limit online poker games similar to what you’ll find in New Jersey and Nevada  ($2 to $25 buy-ins, and possibly higher depending on game conditions). It also covers low-limit live games in the $1/$2 – $2/$5 range that you’ll find in most casinos.

It’s an updated version of Modern Small Stakes and it packs in just as much insight in half the pages.

“I see this book as more of a concise point by point “playbook” to go beat these stakes, 21 of them to be exact,” Williams told US Poker. “Whereas the last book… tried to cover every single aspect of the game.”

As much as I enjoyed Modern Small Stakes, the clear, concise style of The Micro Stakes Playbook makes it the better teaching tool and leaves the door open for more individual experimentation once the reader understands the core concept being discussed.

There is some interplay between the two books, with MSS being the more in-depth discussion and The MSP providing some updated strategies and content, but they are essentially standalone books and do not have to be read in order or even together.

Delving deeper into The MSP

Like Modern Small Stakes, a key concept in The Micro Stakes Playbook is debunking the prevalent theory that pre-flop decisions are simplistic and post-flop decisions are more complex. The MSP teaches you that these two concepts go hand-in-hand since the better one plays pre-flop the easier your post-flop decisions become.

Some of the other key takeaways from MSP are:

  • Not varying things such as your frequencies or bet sizes unless there is a reason to do so since you’ll be pitted against typical low-stakes players, not high-level nosebleed opponents.
  • Understanding the type of player you’re facing and the players still to act, and how that impacts your decisions. Williams identifies six specific player types you’ll encounter at these stakes.
  • Focusing on what’s important in the hand, and understanding the best play vs. an ok play.

Who is this book for?

The Micro Stakes Playbook is for anyone looking to become a better NLHE cash game player. Whether you’re just starting or looking for a tune-up this is a great read.

The MSP is at its core a playbook to beat low-stakes NLHE cash games.

The book can get fairly nuanced in spots, which would normally go over the heads of new players, but because Williams’ is good at making complex topics easy to understand, even very raw players will get the basic gist of most topics, and can revisit parts as they grow more experienced.

However, the book does assume the reader has a fundamental understanding of the game.

If you’re brand new to poker, you will want to start with Williams’ first book, Crushing The Micro Stakes, which covers the basics of NLHE.

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