The best books to learn how to play poker

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Updated 06.06.2024
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The best books to learn how to play poker
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What are we talking about here? Poker books are a great help for those who want to learn how to play well. Experienced players may find the strategies offered by the authors interesting and useful.

Which ones to read? There are many books written by professionals in the game. They look at poker from different angles, explain the rules and talk about nuances that not everyone knows.

Why bother reading poker books?

The story of acquaintance with poker is different for every pro. Some find out about the game from friends, either online or during meetings, some begin their journey thanks to mobile applications and social networks, while others play their first game at the table in friend’s basement.

The important moment comes when you have mastered the basics and feel confident at the table; it is time to deepen your knowledge and skills. To learn how to play and improve in poker, you should start reading specialized books.

You should do it, despite the popular belief that poker books are no longer relevant and it is better to watch educational videos and professionals’ streams. However, for beginners, the books remain an excellent starting point for several reasons:

  • Poker videos are often aimed at more advanced players, and without basic knowledge, a novice player may not grasp all the nuances and logic of the decisions made.
  • The strategies proposed in the videos may not be effective for beginners considering the way people play at lower stakes.
The best books to learn how to play poker
  • Books about poker (many of which you can download for free) provide well-structured and consistently presented information that is easy to understand for beginners.

14 Best Poker Books

We offer a selection of literature covering topics of psychology, the mathematical foundations of poker, strategic approaches and key aspects of the game, with information relevant for 2024:

Alan N. Schoonmaker. “Your Worst Poker Enemy.”

In 2007, Alan Schoonmaker, a specialist in psychology and counseling, presented his creation, highlighting the psychology of poker. Inspired by the statements of renowned master Stu Unger, Schoonmaker argues that players are their own biggest obstacle to success.

His work is aimed at experienced participants seeking to improve their achievements by overcoming psychological barriers. Schoonmaker offers techniques for managing internal states and increasing self-awareness, believing these skills are important for winning at poker.

Jared Tendler. “The Mental Game of Poker”

The book by Jared Tendler, a well-known psychologist and author, became a real bestseller in the world of poker. In this work, he addresses the mental challenges players face and offers strategies for overcoming emotional and psychological difficulties.

Tendler emphasizes the importance of mental toughness and shares tips on how to deal with loss of self-control, fears, and other barriers to excellence. His recommendations are aimed at improving emotional management and increasing efficiency not only in poker, but also in everyday life. For those who love strategy games and psychology, “Mental Game of Poker” is a perfect choice.

Leszek Badurowicz. “Mental Edge”

The book by Leszek Badurowicz, a famous poker player and sports psychology specialist from Poland, presents key methods for developing your mental game. The author emphasizes the role of mental training, placing it on a par with technical skills.

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The work covers various aspects, from time management to professional growth in the game, and offers an abundance of practical exercises and recommendations. This book, which presents the material in an accessible way, is not for poker players only, but also for those who want to improve their self-development skills and personal efficiency.

Roy Rounder. “Poker Math Made Easy”

Roy Rounder’s “Poker Math Made Easy” presents the complexities of poker math in a simplified way that makes it easy for beginners to understand. The author explains the basics of poker science step-by-step, including calculating pot odds, outs, and their potential, thereby ensuring a quick understanding of important concepts.

Numerous examples and clear explanations make the mathematical side of the game easy to grasp and highlight its importance for winning strategy and long-term progress in the game.

Matthew Janda. “Applications of No-Limit Hold’em”

In his most prominent book, Matthew analyzes the GTO (Game Theory Optimal) strategy in detail in the context of poker, and what is noticeable is that the book came out way before solvers did. He focused on using mathematics to create ideal betting ranges and learning techniques to find solutions that solvers offer today.

Janda presents the reader with an extensive set of formulas and analytical calculations, covering a wide range of game aspects, ranging from basic principles to complex strategies for all stages of the game. Although some of the ideas in the 2014 poker book have been rethought over time, the fundamental principles of GTO remain important today.

James Sweeney, Adam Jones. “Optimizing Ace King”

In “Optimizing Ace King”, Adam Jones and James Sweeney take a deep dive into how to play one of the most powerful but often misinterpreted hands in poker, AK. From the start of the hand to the last action, they explore how to make the most of every situation, seizing good luck opportunities and learning to cope with failure.

The poker book provides strategies for a variety of topics, including betting approaches and ways to increase your winnings, and tips for multi-table tournaments. The authors’ recommendations are aimed at improving the skills of both cash game fans and those who prefer tournaments to improve their game with AK.

Nathan Williams. “Crushing the Microstakes” and “Modern Small Stakes”

In “Crushing the Microstakes” and “Modern Small Stakes”, Nathan Williams, better known as BlackRain79, reveals the secrets to his success in the low stakes game. In the first poker book aimed at struggling beginners, he offers everything from basic concepts to advanced strategies.

The second one delves into the intricacies of the game at NL10 and above, emphasizing the need to adapt against more experienced opponents and correct your own weaknesses.

Chris Moorman, Byron Jacobs. “Moorman’s Book of Poker”

Chris Moorman’s “Moorman Book of Poker” defines the approach to online poker tournaments, offering in-depth analysis and strategies for managing hands at all levels of play. Having earned more than ten million dollars in tournaments, he shares his thoughts and analysis of specific hands played by his friend Byron Jacobs.

The best books to learn how to play poker

Therefore, the contents of the poker book are especially valuable for those who strive to improve their skills. Moorman and Jacobs act as experts, discussing mistakes and developing the best strategies for different game situations. This makes it an essential guide for anyone who wants to succeed in the world of tournament poker.

Bertrand Grospellier, Steven Heston, Tysen Streib, Lee Nelson. “Kill Everyone”

Created by a team led by the renowned Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, “Kill Everyone” continues to be an indispensable resource for newcomers to the world of tournaments, even years after its release in 2009. It offers in-depth analysis of the game, including over 100 strategy charts and detailed analysis of more than 70 games of professionals.

Authors put emphasis on the development of strategies at various stages of the tournament, covering such aspects as the battle on the verge of elimination and the principles of fold equity. Also, authors emphasize the importance of a balanced game, offering a variety of approaches. Even though poker has changed, many of the principles outlined are still relevant and allow you to stay ahead of the competition.

John Beauprez. “PLO QuickPro Quickstats”

In his book, John Beauprez, renowned for his achievements in the WSOP events and as the author of PLO tutorials, offers a comprehensive introduction to Pot-Limit Omaha.

The book is only 57 pages long, but it goes into depth on all the important elements of PLO game, from starting hand selection to river strategies, focusing on the aspects beginners have to deal with. The material provided by Beauprez is a valuable resource demonstrating key concepts and strategies for success in Pot Limit Omaha.

Alexander Fitzgerald. “The Myth of Poker Talent “

In “The Myth of Poker Talent”, Alex Fitzgerald, a master poker coach with over a decade of experience and an extensive base of 1,000+ students, offers a new perspective on what it takes to succeed in the game.

Looking at the value of so-called “poker talent” versus dedication and methodical work on one’s own skill, Fitzgerald shares unique insights. He convinces that the secret of success in the game lies in a competent approach and constant practice, thanks to which achieving professional heights becomes possible for everyone.

Ed Miller. “Getting Started in Hold’em (Small Stakes Poker Games)”

“Getting Started in Hold’em” by Ed Miller, published in 2005, is a comprehensive introduction to the game for those taking their first steps in No-Limit poker. Although the material may seem a little outdated to those with some experience, it provides a solid foundation for beginners looking to develop their game.

The best books to learn how to play poker

Ed Miller explains the key principles of Texas Hold’em, so that readers can not only gain confidence at lower stakes, but also develop a foundation for further exploration of complex strategies. This guide provides a unique opportunity to look at poker from a new angle, looking at it not just as entertainment, but also as a possible source of income.

Dan Harrington. “Harrington on Modern Tournament Poker”

Dan Harrington, the great master and strategist of poker, presents his newest work, “Harrington on Modern Tournament Poker”, a continuation of his famous series of books on Hold’em.

The best books to learn how to play poker

With extensive experience backed by numerous wins and World Series bracelets, he provides readers with the in-depth knowledge on how to play confidently at both the entry-level and moderate-stakes events. Released in 2014, this publication, while it may seem outdated in some aspects, is still an invaluable resource filled with fundamental ideas and tactics for tournaments.

Jonathan Little, Albert Hart. “Bluffs”

Jonathan Little’s book “Bluffs” reveals the art of deception as a complex strategy that requires detailed analysis and understanding of many variables.

Little demonstrates that behind a successful bluff there is a serious calculation, including analysis of the opponents’ behavior, their cards, previous moves, even their psychological state.

It shows how various factors, such as table dynamics and player types, determine the outcome of a bluff. By providing readers with a wide range of examples, both successful and not so successful, Little guides readers to master the deep strategies and nuances that make bluffing an art.

Where to look for advice for a beginner in poker?

Preparation before playing poker requires not only reading poker books and watching educational videos, but also a lot of individual work. It is important to understand that most of the training time, even with a coach, will have to be devoted to doing work away from the tables: analyzing game situations and planning strategies.

Being in a community of like-minded people, sharing experiences and receiving feedback is invaluable for developing skills. We recommend registering on a specialized poker forumы, where you can keep a personal blog, share interesting hands, and take part in discussions with other players.

An equally essential element of training is the use of specialized poker software. It offers a variety of tools to help you improve your gaming skills and strategies, which in turn helps you achieve great results.

Frequently Asked Questions About Poker Books

Why is it important for a poker player to become familiar with the mathematical aspects of the game?

Math is what helps you analyzing your chances of winning in a certain spot. This science often becomes a decisive factor for professional when making decisions, for example, whether to call a bet of fold.

Should you hope to master poker by immersing yourself exclusively in literature?

It is important to understand: best books can offer beginners fundamental knowledge and strategies, teach the art of reading opponents, but they are not enough on their own to achieve success.

The best books to learn how to play poker

The authors of poker books, being experienced professionals, share their experience and secrets that will help you avoid common mistakes. However, without practice and application of acquired knowledge, success cannot be achieved. Even with all the necessary theory, it will take time to fully understand the rules and develop skills.

How does playing poker affect your mental abilities?

Research conducted at the University of Canada in 2010 showed that playing tournament poker may reduce anxiety level. It has been noted that during the game the concentration of cortisol, the main stress hormone, decreases significantly, especially when players highly involved in the game process, which leads to a decrease in the level of tension.

Exploring the world of poker opens up with extensive literature, which becomes a key tool for beginners. The game is not only a test of luck; it is the embodiment of strategic thinking, psychological resourcefulness and mathematical calculation. The best books on poker offer a variety of perspectives on the game, from basic rules to complex strategies, each making a unique contribution to understanding the game.

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Nik Maslov Professional poker coach since 2021
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