Evan Jarvis has been making poker training videos on Youtube for 13 years. He’s been coaching poker for longer that. Now he’s trying out a new medium for his teaching. His first book, titled “Mastering Small Stakes Cash Games” came out in December 2021. The book aims to be an introductory text for new players and a way to sharpen up the fundamentals for intermediate players.
In summing up the book it would be hard to beat Jarvis’s own precis, rattled off with the surety of a well-practiced elevator pitch” “The book teaches the reader how to play poker both from a theoretical perspective,” he explained to me when I spoke to him, “with the usual things like math, odds, game structure, and the like — and also from a practical perspective, with things like how to plan a casino trip, get the best table or best seat, what to pay attention to during hands, et cetera…
“Complete beginners will benefit from the deep dive into the theory of the game. While those with more experience will benefit from learning how to profile opponents, how to adjust to them, common mistakes they make and how to exploit them, common mistakes the reader may be making and how to stop them.
“And for players who are already serious about poker but are stuck grinding it out solo or living a less than stellar lifestyle, the section on mastering yourself teaches the reader how to live and play like a pro as well as how to build a network to open up more doors for long term success. The advice in the book is mostly geared towards $1/$2, $1/$3, and $2/$5 no limit tables. But the concepts carry over to higher stakes and act as a rock-solid foundation for any reader.”
That is more or less the exact book he succeeded in writing.
Why small stakes cash games?
Jarvis talked a bit about the kind of reader he had in mind while writing the book. His goal was to help the largest number of players possible including“anyone who is interested in being a winning no limit hold’em player.”
“Complete beginners who have never played a hand of hold’em before can benefit from this book, as can serious amateurs,” Jarvis continued. “I wanted to put together something that most people could benefit from.
“My goal in education has always been to help as many people as possible. […] I wanted to write about what I knew best and had the most experience with. For me it wasn’t a question of what else is already out there on the market. It was a question of ‘What do I know best?'”
One of the aspects often missing from beginners’ poker books are those facets of the game that aren’t directly related to strategy. Jarvis is careful to include those missing aspects here.
The chapter “The Pre-Session Checklist,” for example, covers the dangers of playing hungry or angry, the importance of being polite to dealers and other players, and how to avoid becoming bored at anti-social tables.
There are small asides on things like meditative practices and even a section on how table selection works in live contexts. All useful material that is often overlooked in books that are wholly focused on what cards to play and how.
Jarvis talked a little bit about why felt this sort of material mattered for his book.
“I also found that after reading a lot of the content geared towards small stakes cash games there were still some areas missing. I felt that my book could act as a foundational piece. One that filled in those missing areas from books that focused mainly on the how to play the cards. Those books didn’t really address how to be a poker player or how to develop reads, intuition, stamina and all those intangibles that lead to being successful in the long term.”
Writing Mastering Small Stakes Cash Games
Jarvis has a lot of experience as a pedagogue online, but writing a book was never an inevitability for him.
“Writing was always challenging for me,” he explains. “In grade ten, I received a D in English and it was the first D I’d ever received. Meanwhile, I was getting straight A’s in Math, Science, and I.T. (hence the online poker).
“I never could’ve done it without the help of my editors. I had the ideas, and I had the ability to put a lot of thoughts together, but they are the ones who tightened things up and brought it all together. This book showed me the importance of teamwork — how it takes a group of all-stars to put together a masterpiece.”
Masterpiece might be an overstatement, but Mastering Small Stakes Cash Games is definitely an excellent contribution to the corpus of poker books. It should serve the new players especially well, with live cash games being a good pond for a minnow to grow into a pike. This is because live cash games tend to be both more profitable and less volatile than most other formats for poker.
Learning to play
Small stakes cash games are also a world that Jarvis himself seems very comfortable in as both a practitioner, theoretician, and teacher.
“I’ve been playing card games since I was a child,” Jarvis tells me. “I learned how to play blackjack at a young age. I would play cards with my grandmother to pass the time and with my uncle and cousins for pennies. If we lost we had to do chores, if we won we didn’t. So I learned early on that if I could use my wits I could avoid manual labor. Glad I learned that one early!
“Poker came around for me at the perfect time — my first year at university. Back then, I was out on my own and looking for my place in the world. I started playing with my floor mates and was instantly hooked. It was both a social activity and a way I could make some extra money. I started playing online about two months after learning the game and pretty quickly I knew that I’d found something special.”
The importance of studying poker came early on to Jarvis. In particular, through the printed codex.
“One day we were playing poker on the 6th floor in residence and some of the guys were poking fun at one of the players. I asked, ‘Why?’ They replied that he was reading poker books thinking he could learn how to play it better, to which I replied, “They write books on this stuff?”
“After that game, I immediately went online and googled poker tips which led me to my first theory website. I then devoured articles and got a solid grasp of the game.
“I knew then that I could become a winner at this.”
Now Jarvis is helping a new generation of players find the same kind of resources. Not just with this contribution to the body of poker literature but with his free-to-watch videos on Youtube, his premium training videos on PokerCoaching.org, and his Twitch channel.
Mastering Small Stakes Cash Games by Evan Jarvis is available in paperback and audiobook.
Featured image source: D&B Poker.