Poker Books

Before you can play poker, you need to learn the game. And the best and fastest way to learn poker is to read poker books. Here is my list of what I believe are the best introductory books ever written on the subject of how to win at poker.

Limit Holdem

Hold ‘Em Poker by David Sklansky.  This was the first book on limit Texas Hold’em that I ever read, and it was good enough that I was a winning player from the first day that I sat down in a public cardroom.  A basic primer on hand rankings, and the fundamentals of winning hold ’em play.

Winning Low-Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones.

Small Stakes Hold ’em: Winning Big With Expert Play by Miller, Sklansky and Malmuth.

Primers focused on beating the low limit games.

Winning in Tough Hold’em Games, by Grudzien and Herzog. You’ve learned how to win in low-limit hold ’em games. This book teaches you the advanced concepts that will put you on the path to competing in the higher limits.

No Limit Holdem

Doyle Brunson’s Super System: A Course in Power Poker, 3rd Edition by Doyle Brunson.  The Granddaddy of all poker books is still one of the best introductions to winning poker you can buy.  This book covers limit and no limit Texas holdem, of course, but also many other popular variants of poker, including pot limit Omaha, Stud and Omaha Eight or Better, and Triple Draw.  The best sections by far are those written by Doyle himself about no limit holdem and his life as a road gambler. You won’t find any of the modern theory of no limit holdem here, but you will find the aggressive style of play that all modern theory actually validates, written in an entertaining and easy to understand style by a man who discovered the truths of no limit holdem by simply sitting down to play.

Power Hold’em Strategy by Daniel Negreanu.  This book is Daniel’s answer to Doyle’s SuperSystem.  It includes several sections written by top young players, on how to play tournaments, high-stakes cash games, and short-handed online games.  But I recommend it principally for one thing: Daniel’s section on “small-ball” no limit holdem is an excellent introduction to a style of play radically different from Doyle’s, that has its own validity.

These two books, Doyle’s and Daniel’s, are the only books on no-limit holdem I’m going to recommend.  I actively hate most of the books on no-limit holdem that have been published.  With few exceptions, they are written by authors who might understand the science, but never mastered the art of the game, and their books reflect that. Brunson and Negreanu are among the best to ever play the game, and they do an excellent job of communicating how they actually think about poker.

Pot Limit Omaha

Pot-Limit Omaha Poker by Jeff Huang.

Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha: Small Ball and Short-Handed Play by Jeff Huang.

Advanced Pot-limit Omaha Volume II: Lag Play by Jeff Huang.

Jeff’s books are all you need to get you up to speed on one of the most popular forms of poker being played today. They helped make me a winner right out of the gate when I started playing the game in 2010.

Poker Tells

Caro’s Book of Poker Tells by Mike Caro. This is the classic reference book of poker tells, that not only reveals many of the most frequent tells you will see in live poker games, but also illustrates them with photographs. And most importantly, it teaches you how to THINK about poker tells, so that you can discover them for yourself. The simple mantras “Strong means Weak” and “Weak means Strong” have made me a lot of money over the years.

Poker Tournaments

Harrington on Hold ’em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play

Harrington on Hold ’em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 2: Endgame

Harrington on Hold ’em: Expert Strategies for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. III–The Workbook (Harrington on Hold’em)

World Champion Dan Harrington’s three part series on no limit holdem tournaments is a great introduction to the science of winning poker tournaments.  For the art, however, I would refer you to:

Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen.  I consider this to be the greatest book ever written on the subject of how to win at poker. Gus Hansen’s hand by hand recounting of his victory in the 2007 Aussie Millions Championship is an amazing read. Writing in a wonderfully colloquial yet clear style, Gus takes you through the reasoning behind every hand he played or folded in the tournament, while communicating vividly the thrills and agonies he experienced as he made his championship run.

Because of the sheer audacity of the concept (chronicling every hand in the belief you will win a tournament, and then succeeding), this book will probably never be duplicated.  But even if someone else did manage to do it, they couldn’t produce a book as great as this one, because it’s “a million to one against” that they could write like Gus.  Gus Hansen is not just a brilliant poker mind, but a brilliant writer. This book will captivate you.


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