From dusty saloons of the Wild West to the glittering casinos of Las Vegas, Poker is still the most played card game. For this game, you need to have nerves of steel, read people’s intentions and, above all, be patient. Luck plays the smallest part in winning.
So, how can you learn to master this game? For starters, you can read what the masters of this game have to say. Some of the best poker players ever have published books to share their vast knowledge, suggest strategies and give you some useful tips.
We have read the three best poker books ever written. Every one of them has a lot to offer, and they would all look great on your shelf. But, only one of them can be the ultimate poker bible.
The Theory of Poker
David Sklansky is one the best poker players in the world. He won three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets and wrote several books about poker. David is one of the biggest experts there is when it comes to poker.
The Theory of Poker was first published in 1999. In it, David talks about theories and concepts behind almost every variation of poker game. Besides the famous Texas hold ‘em, you will learn about the seven-card stud, lowball draw, and many other styles of play.
Perhaps the most important thing in this book is Sklansky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker. David covers the implications of his theorem, and how it should affect your play. Think of this theorem as the ultimate guideline for your every poker game.
The goal of this book is to teach you the general theory of poker, something you can always apply. So, the main focus is on the general concepts and strategy, rather than specific hand strategies and techniques. After reading this book, you will be better able to overcome any poker challenge.
Theory of Poker has a very mathematical approach to poker. Although none of the math goes beyond basic algebra, it can be still a bit overwhelming for beginners. However, as this book will tell you, you have to be a bit of a mathematician if you want to master this game.
In our opinion, this book is a little short on practical tips. We agree that theory is essential, but we also need actual poker strategy and tactics. With practical advice, we would feel more secure at the real poker table.
This book is an excellent tool for raising your poker skills to the next level but it’s not really suitable for pure beginners.
Doyle Brunson is one of the best poker players alive. He was a professional poker player for over 50 years. Doyle is a two-time champion of WSOP Main Event champion, member of the Poker Hall of Fame, and he won ten WSOP bracelets.
Doyle wrote Super System in 1979. To write this book, he had help from other great players like David “Chip” Reese, Mike Caro, David Sklansky, Joey Hawthorne, and Bobby Baldwin. Their combined 10,000 poker hours have gone into this book.
In this book, you will get in-depth insight into poker from some of the best players ever. Each one of them has covered a different game, from five-card draw to no limit hold’ em. But, not everything is explained, and these masters have held back some of the best tricks for themselves. And who could blame them!
Doyle’s main input in this book is about no limit hold’ em poker. He explains the huge difference between set limit poker and no-limit poker. No-limit is a game of nerves, and Doyle focuses on the psychological aspects of the game.
One of the great features of this book is the coverage of poker odds and statistics by Mike Caro. Even today, they are still accurate. You have to know the math behind the poker if you want to be a good player, and this will help you.
Despite all this great content, this book feels a bit outdated. The aggressive style Doyle used in the ‘70s and ‘80s is no longer applicable because counter strategies have emerged in the meantime. But, Doyle’s insight into the psychology of poker is still relevant to this day.
Harrington on Hold ’em
Dan Harrington ranks among the best poker players in the world. Dan was a champion of the WSOP Main Event in 1995, and he won ten WSOP bracelets. He is also a member of the Poker Hall of Fame.
Before he became a professional poker player, Dan played chess and backgammon. He transferred the experience from there to the poker table. He is known as a tight and conservative player who relies on logic and strategy.
In Volume I Dan covers how to survive the early and middle stages of a no-limit hold ’em tournament. You will learn about pre-flop and post-flop betting, reading the table, bluffs, and much more. This is all covered in an easy-to-understand way.
That’s why this is the best no-limit hold’em book for beginners. It is full of practical lessons, complete with a whole series of hands. And, at the end of each chapter, Dan explains thought processes and mistakes you can make.
Furthermore, you will learn that you need to approach the poker table like you would a chess board. Harrington on Hold’em: Volume I is a great book for players who like to rely on strategy and tactics in their game.
You should take into consideration that this book covers only the no-limit hold’em play style. Also, it is focused on tournament play, so you should get another specialized book for ring and cash games.
If you want to become a serious poker player, we recommend that you get all three books. The Theory of Poker covers the underlying principles behind every poker game and is full of useful math approaches to the game. Super System is full of many useful tips and tricks from old masters and it covers the psychology of no-limit hold’ em poker.
But for us, the clear winner is Harrington on Hold’em: Volume I. This book will help newcomers to the no-limit hold ‘em to learn this poker style in an easy way. You will learn that you have to be patient and rely on strategy and not on impulse to win this type of poker game.
Texas Hold ‘em is a game where nerves and strategy will win the day. Harrington on Hold’em: Volume I shows that in the best possible way. This book is a poker bible.