The word ‘poker’ often evokes an image of card sharp players strategically playing winning hands, walking home with some serious cash, and bragging rights. This image is soothing and reassuring if you’re in the know and are a member of this cool group. But what happens if you’ve only got a hang of some of the basic elements of the game? A clueless and confused player at a poker table won’t get too far in the game. If this causes you to worry, then don’t. We’ve got your back. All you need are the tips and tricks from some of the best poker books in the business.
There’s an old saying that knowledge is power, and this holds true, even when it comes to a game of poker. In fact, the foundation of poker rests on knowledge; of your own cards, your opponents’ cards, the best moves possible and everything in between. Now, it may be a bit old school, but the best place to get information and pick up new skills, is books. There are books on everything under the sun, and poker is no exception. So we’re going to guide you along and introduce you to some poker books, which, apart from being great reads, will also set you up with some new moves and cool tricks.
1) The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky
This book is often cited as the golden book of poker, and rightly so. It covers every topic a beginner could possibly need to know about the game of poker. Sklansky discusses different variants of the game but also covers certain fundamental theories like Game Theory and the Fundamental Theorem of Poker. Apart from this, he also explains certain important aspects of the game like the psychology of a player, the value of deceptive tactics like bluffing and other tricks.
This poker book has such an esteemed position in the poker community because it separates amateurs from expert players. The words leap off the page and are very easily applicable to a real poker game. It can really improve a player’s game and also elevate them to a skill level superior to those who haven’t read this book. Several poker players swear by this treatise, and if they’re reading it, so should you.
2) Applications of No-Limit Hold ’em: A Guide to Understanding Theoretically Sound Poker by Matthew Janda :
Now, the title is quite long and that can be intimidating, but the basic premise of Janda’s poker book is simple and is essential for every beginner. You can’t call yourself a chef if you can only cook one dish, even though you cook it really well. This philosophy is extended upon in Janda’s book. His book encourages players to learn the different ranges and hands available in poker. He explains that while many players rely on their ability to play one kind of hand exceptionally well, this prevents them from truly understanding the game.
He also provides clarity on some other concepts such as overbetting, bet-sizing ranges, and check-raising. And while there are some mathematical equations in the book, don’t let the numbers scare you. The book is easy to read and is a great guide on the theoretical foundation of poker. Even if you skip the math, you’ll learn a lot.
3) Ace on the River by Barry Greenstein:
This book isn’t written by some academic or researcher. It’s written by an actual poker player. And he’s not just a player, he a player. Greenstein has won seven poker tournaments and is an icon. Apart from being an ace poker player, he’s also a great author. His book has been said to be one of the most comprehensive poker books for beginners. This book is a step up from basic books about poker. It covers the game in a bare-bones manner, which will help elevate the skills of any player reading it.
Greenstein goes beyond the conventional writing style and addresses more than just the game. He approaches poker in a way that includes the player and takes his or her psyche into account, as well. If there’s any way to make this book better, Greenstein has done it. He writes in a conversational tone which is supremely engaging to read. How many world champion poker players have you had a conversation with? Read this book, and you’ll have one name to add to your list.
4) Getting Started in Hold'em by Edward Miller:
The next book on our list is by Edward Miller who is described as a ‘noted poker authority’. If that isn’t the coolest job title then I don’t know what is. Miller is a perfect candidate for this category. He himself made the jump from being a beginner to a professional, in less than two years. Miller’s success has been magical but unlike a magician, he’s revealed all his tricks in his book to aid beginners interested in poker.
Miller’s book walks a reader through all the basics about hands, betting, semi-bluffing, pots, odds, stacks and plays. Sounds like a long list of random words, but Miller explains the concepts and also their application in a game. His book is a great introductory read for any player unfamiliar to the game. The quality that makes this poker book exceptional is that it teaches you how to play poker, but it also teaches you how to win.
5) Doyle Brunson's Super System by Doyle Brunson:
Now, this poker book is the real deal. Touted as the poker player’s bible, it holds an enviable position. The author of the book is an even bigger deal, if possible. He’s a two time winner of the World Series of Poker Tournaments, and is also a member of the poker Hall of Fame. Him being the sole author of this book would be impressive, but this book is co-written by four other authors; Chip Reese, David Sklansky, Joey Hawthorne, Mike Caro, and Bobby Baldwin. All the authors are experts in their respective areas of poker, and the insight they provide is priceless.
This book is compiled from the data collected from 10,000 poker games played by some of the best players and academics. So, as you can tell, its findings are based in reality. Apart from this, it also covers several variants of the game such as Texas Hold ‘Em, Seven Card Poker and Draw Poker and pans across concepts such as betting, raising, folding and all the good stuff. This book may be a bit old, but it definitely is nothing less than gold.
Best Books on Poker Strategy
There’s a stark difference between playing like poker player and thinking like a poker player. The difference can be the thin line between winning and losing. While the previous list covered all the basic elements of the game and the psychology attached, you still need to be armed with some strategic wherewithal. Poker is a game that requires a player to think a few steps ahead, envision and anticipate moves and plan his or her victory. Just like before, we’ve got you covered with some poker books that will help you do just that.
1) Harrington on Hold 'em: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments volumes I-II by Dan Harrington:
If you’ve read the name of the book then you know we’ve tricked you. This isn’t a single poker book but two volumes and while that is a lot of reading, more volumes of books equals to more volume of winning strategies. And, the author Dan Harrington is another champion, winner of several Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments and competitions.
This book focuses on the author’s expertise with Texas Hold ‘Em poker and takes the reader on a ride that’s never been seen before. His first volume focuses on survival; through countless hands and through the early and middle stages of the game. He takes the basic elements of betting and analysis of cards and elevates them to a strategic place of optimization. In simple terms, he teaches you how to be really good at getting the best out of your moves. In his second volume, Harrison guides you through the final stages of the game and helps you out when there are only few players on the table. The math is simple; two books, one game and lots of wins.
2) Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen:
Gus Hansen is a poker player who’s been dubbed as ‘the madman’ of poker. If that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what will. Hansen has been known for his aggressive style and is touted as being fearless and crazy. Hansen has also won three World Poker Tournaments and became the 2007 Aussie Millions Champion defeating over 700 players and winning a whopping 1.2 million dollars. Now, if Gus Hansen invited you to sit in his head and listen to him strategize, wouldn’t you want to?
This is exactly what Hansen does in his book. He takes the reader along with him and reveals some of the best kept secrets of poker. He also teaches readers of any level, to play the game in the correct manner, covering his own hands, logical and calculated thinking, educated guesses and several other strategic components. A millionaire poker player sharing his secrets in a poker book, is a complete no brainer.
3) The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler
While on the surface, poker can seem about logical and calculated strategy, the players playing the game are still human. They are impacted by the events of the game psychologically and emotionally. While such emotions are inescapable, they can be managed in a way so as to not affect your game. That’s where this book comes into the picture.
Jared Tendler may not be a prize-winning poker player, but he is an expert mental game coach. His book focuses on dealing with the implications of a bad hand or a strategic setback. In short, he can guide a player through the ups and downs of the games, without letting the impact cloud their judgements. This poker book balances poker and life and is one of a kind.
4) Elements of Poker by Tommy Angelo:
Tommy Angelo is a poker coach who works with some of the best players out there. Surely his advice can help you better your game. Angelo approaches the game of poker from a broader perspective and teaches players to embrace all aspects of the game. He goes beyond the concepts of the game and encourages players to understand the game in its entirety.
His approach towards the game is practical, and he advices players to play their best game consistently while teaching them how to do so. His stance that a consistent player is profitable is pragmatic, and in the end, his take on poker helps you become a better player. There’s a reason why this book is a classic poker book.
As we conclude our lists, we’ve found poker books that cover several areas of the game and all the authors add their own two cents to help an amateur player. We’ve gone over the basics, the strategies, the mental health and even the memoirs from the masters. The solutions to all your problems and the answers to all your questions can be found in these pages. If you’re an amateur player or even someone who is interested in poker, these books can be a treasure trove for you. Reading them will not only improve your game but make you appreciate the game, even more.
Now, we know this a lot of reading, so while you go through these poker books and learn new tricks and strategies, don’t forget to take a break and play some poker to see where you stand. Who knows, maybe one of the things you pick up while reading can actually help you win a game. So, come join us online, at Spartan Poker, and play poker online India to brush up on and show off your newfound skills!