Poker is not an easy game, and those who want to stay ahead of the curve need every bit of help they can get. R Poker takes time and effort to master and the best poker books are usually a path to becoming the best version of your poker-playing self. That is to say, you can practice and learn as you go but taking time to read about strategy, psychology and the mental game of poker is the quickest way to take your game to the next level.
But can’t you just learn online instead of looking for the best poker books?
Whether you prefer tournaments or casual games with friends or even online poker sites in New Jersey, reading as many of the best poker books as possible is much better than scouring the online world. This is because information is organized much better in books and the authors are mostly pro poker players. However, not all authors are created equal and some poker books no longer hold the same relevance as when they first arrived on the scene. There’s also the fact that you may wish to learn about poker mindset or psychology rather specific strategy and some books are primarily focused on one aspect of the game rather than trying to cover all of the above.
In this article, we take a look at some of the best poker books but before we dive into these titles, let’s consider what makes a poker book that you should actually read.
What Separates the Best Poker Books from all the Rest?
Some poker books are designed for beginners and others for more experienced players which means your definition of “the best poker books” depends on your own needs and circumstances. It’s important to think about what you would like to master at this point in your poker journey because many beginners start out by reading the wrong titles and consume books that will likely confuse and maybe even demotivate!
And why is choosing the right poker title so important?
Some tactics or strategies might work in social games with your friends but not in competitive poker games. This can also happen the other way around as high-level tactics can cause you to lose against amateurs and then some books are filled with jargon and instructions that beginners might not even understand. In short, it’s always best to start with the basic principles of poker and then build up a foundation of knowledge and skills. This is certainly a much better option than trying to learn high level strategies without knowing why they work or when you should be using them.
It’s also worth mentioning that a little research is never a bad idea and this should save you from wasting your time and picking up outdated poker books that you didn’t bother to review. After all, you’d hardly use an online casino without checking the reviews, right? By the way, check out this BetMGM New Jersey Poker Review, PartyPoker New Jersey Poker Review and Borgata New Jersey Poker Review!
Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the best poker books you need to know about.
12 Best Poker Books of All Time Ranked
1. Master Micro Stakes Poker: Learn to Master 6-Max No Limit Hold’em
Master Micro Stakes Poker is a comprehensive poker book for beginners that features a lot of examples hands which help explain certain practices. While many of the best poker books focus on the same pre-flop and post-flop play, the author talks about various important skills in the initial chapters. For example, Hardin explains the importance of knowing how to play a hand before getting started and helps the reader form a better foundation knowledge of poker before going into specifics. But there is also large sections of the book dedicated to pre-flop and post-flop play and strategies that can help create a tighter or more aggressive way of playing poker. In many ways, Master Micro Stakes Poker is one of the best poker books for beginners and an introductory lesson for those with little or no experience. The author is also competent when it comes to explaining the details and enables readers to learn how to become profitable at poker before they even get a chance to lose any money at all!
2. Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em
Jonathan Little is a renowned author when it comes to the best poker books and uses this one to outline his immense experience on the competitive circuit. However, the author also brings 17 other experts together to create the ultimate guide to no-limit hold’em that you are likely to find. From Jared Tendler and Phil Hellmuth to Chris Moneymaker and Mike Sexton, each of these experts brings something different to the table and what is surely one of the best poker books on the market. That being said, this book is only suitable for competent players as there are few basics and lots of advanced strategies throughout. Game theory, value betting and satellite play are examples of topics that you can expect and this comprehensive book is often described as a “super-system”. If you have tactics of your own that need some work, Excelling at No Limit Hold’Em should help you rethink and re-calibrate these tactics. If you want to improve your knowledge of poker theory and explore new ideas relating to strategy, Jonathan Little has compiled a blueprint for mastering the game.
3. Essential Poker Math
Math is an essential component of learning how to master poker but it’s often ignored and this is often because players think the math is boring or difficult to learn. The truth is, a good understanding of math can help players win more than they lose and it’s not as difficult to learn as people think. Essential Poker Math goes some way to illustrating this point by outlining specific practices that can help players calculate and use combinations. The beginning of the book provides some good explanations for various mathematical concepts but don’t let this wordy observation put you off because it’s all easy to understand. The author also talks about pre-flop and post-flop poker before detailing more concepts which include set mining, bluffs, hero calls and pot equity. While some players think this kind of book to be hard work, it’s an enjoyable read and one that gives the reader a distinct advantage over opponents who might not know about these mathematical concepts. Each chapter also has a specific point to takeaway and this always includes concepts that players can easily introduce to their poker game going forward. This is likely the unique-selling point for Essential Poker Math because even some of the best poker books fail to deliver practical information that the reader can actually deploy as part of their poker strategy.
4. The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide
The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide is an ideal poker book for beginners or those wanting to gain an edge over their friends and family. In other words, it may not be suitable for advanced players wanting to up their skills for competitive tournaments but there is enough tips, tricks and advice in here to assist novice players. The book is well organized and features a range of games including Limit Hold’em, Seven-Card Stud and razz. This means you can gain a good understanding of different games which should help your overall game. There is also a number of professional poker players that feature throughout the book with Andy Bloch, Ted Forrest and Phil Gordon taking a chapter each to explain a focus topic. Many online reviews suggest these chapters alone are reason enough to read The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide and take advantage of what is one of the best poker books for beginners. Either way, the combination of expert opinion and highly insightful tips should be more than enough to add the Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide to the collection on your bookshelf.
5. The Psychology of Poker
Poker requires a great deal of strategies and skills but to win more often than you lose, it’s necessary to master these aspects and know when to apply them. This lineup of skills includes everything from hand-selection and telegraphs to reading hands and bluffing. As you may know, these skills require actions that one might consider unnatural and this means they are not easy to learn. But have you ever wondered why some pros seem more aggressive than others? Maybe you’ve noticed that some tactics seem to come naturally? The Psychology of Poker enables the reader to consider certain ways or tactics that allow poker players to do what needs to be done as opposed to doing what comes naturally. More specifically, this poker book talks about both personal and strategic adjustments that can help improve a players’ game. The different type of player is discussed and how to identify them, while enabling the reader to gain a better appreciation and understanding of the opponent. Simply put, The Psychology of Poker is probably the best poker book in this particular niche and one that carefully explains how to practice psychological techniques and just as importantly, how to know when to use them.
6. Hold’em Wisdom for All Players
If you want to play at Texas Hold’em, this popular poker book is a great introduction to the game. Hold’em Wisdom for All Players lives up to the title of the book with it being suited to both novice and beginner poker players. This is quite rare because most of the best poker books are suited to one or the other but there’s more than enough in here to keep everyone interested or entertained. It features sections on winning concepts and different ways to approach the game in general. Although easy-to-read and filled with useful insights, you will not find any high level strategy in this poker book. Instead, the author takes a more simplistic approach and touches on types of play before emphasizing the need to make better informed decisions in order to be successful at poker. There is also some math and mechanics throughout this book but for the most part, Hold’em Wisdom for All Players looks at the big picture and tries to stay focused on the macro view of how you might play the game.
7. Playing the Player
Professional poker stars will tell you the same thing: Poker is just as much about understanding people and psychology as it is about the game itself. Ed Miller has compiled an best selling book in “Playing the Player” which outlines how the pros read other players and deliver devastating adjustments at exactly the right time.
But what else can you expect from this one? Playing the player delves into many different strategies and addresses specific topics such as how to gain an edge over aggressive regulars and how to profile opponents and spot weaknesses. In fact, for most of this poker book, Ed Miller talks about various exploitable situations and common tendencies or betting lines that you need to know about. While strategy and proper knowledge of poker is necessary, it really is true that understanding people is often the key to success at poker and the situations in this book are sure to come up from time to time for all players. It certainly won’t be the only example of the best poker books that you need to master the game but for a different approach and greater mindset, Playing the Player is worth the read.
8. Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time
Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time takes you through the basics of poker before talking about various techniques that you can use for each hand. The author likes to point out that every hand dealt is an opportunity to change course and there’s almost always a way to benefit regardless of the contents of that hand. Bubble play, ICM poker and early stages of poker are all covered near the beginning and then three poker experts walk you through everything from their thoughts on decision making, theory and how they analyze the most important situations in a tournament. If for nothing else, this poker books offers some great insight into the minds of professional poker players and how players might choose to adjust their game in order to stand a better chance of winning in competitive tournaments. If you’d like a good overview of how to approach a tournament or competitive poker, this is certainly one of the best poker books that can help prepare players for the road ahead.
9. The Mental Game of Poker
The Mental Game of Poker is written by Barry Carter and Jared Tendler – a professional poker player and a mental game coach. Jared’s mental strategies ensure players can perform to their best ability in any given situation, while Carter’s step-by-step techniques add another dimension to the mental side of the game. These techniques touch on aspects like handling variance, tilt, fear, confidence and emotional control and it’s widely regarded as one of the best poker books in recent times. With this in mind, there is little to do with math or the mechanics of poker in this book but lots to learn about knowing how to think about them! The Mental Game of Poker also keeps the information fresh by not talking about the common fundamentals that you likely know already and sticking to mental techniques and mind-games that can either tweak or compliment your existing approach. At the very least, this is one of the best poker books that speaks directly about mastering the poker mindset.
10. Kill Everyone
Kill Everyone is one of the most popular and best poker books on the market and also the most provocatively titled! But there’s a reason why “Kill Everyone” is so popular because it explains techniques to help players adopt smarter or more aggressive strategies and know the right time to deploy these tactics in the first place. It’s also another of the best poker books for those who wish to enter tournaments and seeks to give the reader more skills and a foundation that will help them gain an edge in competitive games. These strategies and tips apply to SNG, MTT and STT but also casual games in which there is no money on the table. When it comes to online reviews, it would appear this poker book rarely fails to impress and both the writing and information is easy to interpret for those without any real poker experience. What’s more, the new expanded edition of Kill Everyone is even better than the original and includes more resources, charts, illustrations and commentary.
11. The Theory of Poker
David Sklansky squeezes a large number of concepts and theories into the Theory of Poker that cover almost every thinkable scenario in the game. This means things like seven-card stud, low-ball draw and razz feature a lot but there are also chapters on theory and how this can affect your game. Many online reviews cite this as being one of the best poker books and one that upgraded their skills and fortunes entirely. It’s not the most recent book but all content and information stands up just as well today. That being said, this is a poker book that focuses on theory which means you’ll need to look elsewhere for more detailed strategies and tactics. The Theory of Poker is also very well written and compiled in a way that should help both beginners and experienced players gain a better understanding of the theory behind their chosen strategies. In fact, this is probably why the Theory of Poker is so beneficial to readers – because many players take time to advance their skills without knowing enough about the theory which makes those techniques so effective.
12. Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide
Ace on the River is one of the more colorful books on this list which is largely due to the wonderful photos. The book is geared toward players that might be considering a move into professional poker but keeps the language and explanations simple enough for beginners to understand. Interestingly, the author tries to unravel the myth that professional poker is all about the glamour and even warns against the temptation of alcohol, drugs and other distractions that have led to the downfall of many top poker players. There’s no math or formulas in this poker book but there is plenty of analysis that uses real-life situations to help readers understand his wisdom and theory. You will also find chapters dedicated to money management and family/home life, while the absence of strategy etc is something that helps this book stand out for poker players who want something different or deeper that might improve their game. And while it might not make the poker world seem glamorous, Barry Greinstein ensures it still comes across as rather interesting and intriguing.
You can get better at poker through practice and this goes for casual games just as much as any serious tournament. But reading the best poker books is essential if you really want to gain an edge over opponents and protect your bankroll. While many of the above suggestions are focused on strategy and tactics, it should also be clear that understanding the theory, psychology and fundamentals of poker is often what really separates a recreational player from the professionals who read such books!