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Dedicated poker players can improve their knowledge of the game by reading books teaching poker theory and strategies. Here are some classic poker books, in addition to some newly published ones, that address a wide variety of subjects and angles:
Although the information is slightly dated since this classic was published in 1978, this collection of writings from some of the best poker experts (Brunson, Sklansky, Caro, Reese, etc.) still has a great deal to offer. An Amazon reviewer said that “each and every section of this book has some very valuable insights from odds to game theory to various ways to approach different hands.” But the reviewer recommends the book “only to advanced players with significant experience and the desire to vary their play.”
Considered by many to be the best book available on the fundamentals and theory of poker. Sklansky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker, as listed in the book, states: “Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose.” According to an Amazon reviewer, the book “focuses on the math of poker—how to calculate odds, pot odds, reverse implied pot odds, etc. It’s not a fun read (it reminds me of some of the college textbooks I dreaded) but it rewards hard work with a new depth of insight that will make you a smarter, more insightful player.”
With nine World Series Of Poker bracelets to his credit, Phil Hellmuth presents his tournament-tested strategies to beat any type of player. He begins by laying out the rules and set-up of each game and then moves on to easy-to-follow basic and advanced strategies. Hellmuth teaches exactly which hands to play, when to bluff, when to raise, and when to fold. In addition, Hellmuth provides techniques for reading other players and staying cool under pressure. There are also special chapters on how to beat online poker games and an inside look at tournament play.
Over 300 pages and more than 170 photographs devoted to the body language of poker. The book shows poker players in action and provides Caro’s own accompanying explanations about when players are bluffing, when they’re not and why. According to an Amazon reviewer, this book “really breaks down the art of poker (that is, the ability to read people) into simple categories of tells that are understandable and recognizable by anybody.”
Among poker professionals and aficionados of the game, this is the most often referenced and recommended book with a wealth of practical advice. According to one reviewer, this has been one of the most influential Poker books ever written and has literally changed how people have played the game. Moreover, this book has, in large part, set the standard by which other poker books have been judged. Highly recommended.
A surprisingly good introduction to all the basic poker concepts you need to get started. It begins on the ground floor and works up to strategies for popular games, with lots of interesting subtopics including card room etiquette, slang, tells and tournaments. This is an excellent first book on poker, with explanations in plain English, but some more experienced players have complained about its lack of details about how to actually play the games.
An excellent “niche” book, Lee Jones’s revised second edition expands on the first, but continues to keep all of the important lessons for players interested primarily in lower-limit games. Endorsed by 2000 World Series of Poker champion Chris Ferguson, this book won’t teach you any advanced theory, but then again that’s not the point. Instead, you’ll just learn how, with discipline, to beat any lower-limit game you enter. That’s good enough for most.
According to the inside flap, Thursday Night Poker is “intended for the serious biweekly or monthly player. This gaming guide devotes chapters to calculating probabilities, estimating odds, bluffing and being bluffed, reading your opponents’ down cards, and more. Virtually everyone will learn from this clearly written, fully illustrated instructional book.” Indeed, though the book is nearly 10 years old, it’s still more than suitable for regular players who want to improve their game, but don’t have the time to be play online on a daily or weekly basis.
From the author of Poker For Dummies, which we also recommend, Hold’Em Excellence is a complete course on learning and excelling at Texas Hold’Em. Whereas sometimes poker sharks prove to be murky writers, Lou Krieger makes things very understandable and properly explains everything you need to know to play well in a public card room. One Amazon reviewer wrote that “Krieger’s analysis of the fundamentals of Hold’Em is rock solid. A great book for the amateur Hold’Em player who wishes to add some solid basic strategy to their game.”
Mike Caro has been referred to as the “mad genius” of poker, which is to say that he’s not a poker legend like Doyle Brunson or a master theoritician like David Sklansky. He is, however, something in-between, and his tips on how to win at poker are truly worthwhile. The third edition of this popular book will teach you how to make more money from weaker players, how to equalize stronger players and how to bluff a bluffer. One of the best things about this book is that it addresses all forms of poker, and imparts sound advice across a wide spectrum of areas.