Grinder Guides, from a professional poker player and coach, are a series of guides to learning how to beat a variety of poker games. From the books to videos, training sites and forums, Grinder Guides provide a roadmap to the best information available including links to coaches and training sites that can help you hone your game to a razor edge.
We are starting off the Grinder Guides here on PokerUpdate with the world’s most popular game, No-Limit Holdem cash games. This guide will be about live cash games in casino card rooms, though much of the advice provided here will apply to online games as well. A future Grinder’s Guide will offer advice specifically for online games.
Books for Live No-Limit Holdem Games
No Limits: The Fundamentals of No-limit Holdem – Yes, I’m biased because I wrote it, but if you want to understand how no-limit holdem actually works, this is the book to have. With simple bluffing and calling formulas, a simple way to understand preflop play, and hand examples geared toward small to mid-limit cash games, No Limits is geared toward helping beginning and intermediate players understand the game and learn to think clearly about the game.
Professional No-Limit Holdem by Sunny Mehta, Matt Flynn, and Ed Miller – While No Limits gives you all the information to make your own decisions and unlock your creativity, Professional No-Limit Holdem gives you a more formulaic way to play the game. This book will prevent you from making common mistakes by following some simple guidelines and paying attention to the size of the pot in relation to the size of the stacks involved in the hand. It can be a bit of a dry read, but Mehta, Flynn, and Miller know their stuff and the information is solid.
Poker’s 1% by Ed Miller – Poker’s 1% offers a new way to think about no-limit holdem. The best players tend to play a certain way, “tight and sticky” as Miller calls it, because it works. The book explains why this works and how to emulate it and achieve real success playing no-limit. A nice compliment for the first two books on the list, and Miller’s writing style makes for a fairly easy read even when the subject matter is complex.
These three books aren’t the only useful books on no-limit holdem cash games, but they are the best and reading all three of them is the easiest way to improve without spending a lot of money.
Training Sites for Live No-Limit Holdem Games
Don’t learn well from books? Done with books and ready to take it to the next level? Subscribing to a poker training site can be a big help, even if you are learning quickly with the help of some very good books. Watching world class players, seeing their hole cards, and hearing them explain how they do what they do, can help you learn very quickly.
I was part of some of the very early video training sites and have watched training sites come and go. While there are just too many sites to keep up with these days, I know that these sites are excellent and have a lot of cash game content.
Red Chip Poker (redchippoker.com) is a newer entry into the poker training world, but they have collected some of the best coaches in the business and offer very high quality training videos on advanced concepts. Hunter Cichy‘s no-limit holdem cash videos are excellent.
CardRunners (cardrunners.com) has been the largest poker training site in the world for a few years now, with a huge archive of big name coaches. Definitely worth a look.
Blue Fire Poker (bluefirepoker.com) is the former home of Phil Galfond and has a nice number of coaches and some very advanced information about no-limit cash games. Known as one of the best sites for cash games.
These sites all offer some sort of free trial and if improving your game is important to you at all then they are all a bargain. Try them out and see which one you like the best, or just join them all and get better that much faster.
Coaches for Live No-Limit Holdem Games
There are hundreds of poker coaches willing to take your money for instruction, and it’s hard to know which coaches are worth spending your money on. If you try a coach and you don’t feel like you are learning quickly, try another, and another if necessary, until you find one that works well with your learning style. You can find coaches through most training sites, at poker-coach.com, or on the twoplustwo.com coaching forum. A good coach is an amazing resource and will help your game much faster than any of the other methods, though they are also the most expensive option.
While this guide is geared toward live games, you can learn the basics and get a good quantity of cash game hands under your belt much faster and at lower limits if you can play online. It’s not necessary, but online play is a useful resource and we would be remiss not to mention it here.
Get tracking software, either Holdem Manager or PokerTracker, and learn how to use it, especially if you plan on getting a coach. When a coach can look at your stats, and replay hands you have played, they can help you improve faster than any other method. The tracking software will also help you recognize your own leaks even without a coach and you can find information on the tracking software’s web page about where your stats should be and adjust accordingly.