The Best Poker Strategy Books to Read (or listen to)

Posted on: June 30, 2020

Poker is a relatively easy game to play. Some play it for fun; others play it to make serious bucks.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, in competitive poker, aside from mastering the art of the poker face, mastering the art of strategy behind it — how the mind works — is of greater importance.

What separates a good poker player from a master is that the latter never stops learning. There is no cockiness or overconfidence, because it is a fact that Lady Luck may not always be on one’s side even when stakes are high, no matter how long you have been playing the game.

A winning streak can always be broken by a heavy loss. To lessen the chances of this happening, it is wise to read up on poker strategy books. These are often written by champion poker players who are already retired or still active.

Trade secrets, tricks, concepts, and styles — don’t expect the player next to you to share these with you. So get these from books. As a wise man once said, “Where there is knowledge, there is power.”

Modern Poker Theory: Building an unbeatable strategy based on GTO principles

Author: Michael Acevedo (2019)

Acevedo is hailed as “one of the world’s leading poker theorists.” He is famous for creating content read by top poker players. Modern Poker Theory was written using the most advanced poker software tools, perfect for the 21st century player. GTO stands for “game theory optimal” play which can help you make accurate poker decisions and beat players who don’t know or understand it — systematic, intuitive, and practical.

Essential Poker Math, Expanded Edition: Fundamental No-Limit Hold’em Mathematics You Need to Know

Author: Alton Haldin (2016)

Many players are intimidated by the idea of learning poker math, but author Haldin says it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Without learning this, one is merely playing a guessing game with poker. Aside from a probable increase in winnings, this book helps develop skills such as understanding probability & odds and bluffs & hero calls, among many others. You also get free enrollment into Haldin’s eLearning Training Course.

Doyle Brunson’s Super System: A Course in Power Poker

Author: Doyle Brunson (2002)

Brunson is a two-time world champion and Hall of Famer in poker. Together with his collaborators David Reese, Mike Caro, David Sklansky, Joey Hawthorne, and fellow world champion Bobby Baldwin, Super System is the “Bible of poker players.” This so-called treatise is a trove of secrets and skills on raise, bet, call, and fold, whether you play Hold ’Em, 7-Stud, Draw Poker, or Lowball. A must-have in your poker library.

Play Optimal Poker 2: Range Construction

Author: Andrew Brokos (2020)

Brokos is a world-renowned poker pro and coach. This follow-up to the best-selling first edition demonstrates “how to construct the right ranges for any situation.” Thus, you have the strategic upper hand, you can play with confidence, you can make precise decisions. The powerful concepts discussed in the book are bet sizing, equity denial, equity realization, balance, leverage, board coverage, and exploitative play.

Decide to Play Great Poker: A Strategy Guide to No-Limit Texas Hold Em

Authors: Annie Duke and John Vorhaus (2011)

This is an audiobook — perfect to listen to while driving or doing other chores — narrated by Duke. There is no one way to become a great poker player, but it begins with knowing what variables to master: table position, flop texture, number of players, personalities of opponents, and so much more (not to mention the psychological “warfare”). This audiobook will make you a great thinker, strategist, and navigator.

The Theory of Poker: A Professional Poker Player Teaches You How to Think Like One

Author: David Sklansky (1999)

Don’t be fooled by the title: this book is not just for beginners but for veterans alike. Top poker players attest that The Theory of Poker made a difference in their play, and how could it not? While it starts with the basics fundamentals and implications, it goes on to include deception, psychology, implied odds, and more concepts that will set one apart at a poker table. Amazon hails it as “the best book ever written on poker.”

Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty-One

Author: Edward O. Thorp (1966)

We see this scenario in movies: poker players who count cards, something casino security watches out for. Well, guess what? Beat the Dealer is the book that “made Las Vegas change the rules,” and has sold more than a million copies in print. Thorp is dubbed “the father of card counting.” In this book, he also teaches how to spot cheating, how to overcome casino countermeasures, and more. An indispensable resource.

Exploitative Play in Live Poker: How to Manipulate Your Opponents Into Making Mistakes

Author: Alexander Fitzgerald (2018)

Fitzgerald is a highly successful poker player and the owner of a poker consultancy firm that services over 1,000 professional poker players in 60 countries. In this audiobook he narrates, the hypothesis is that — while great poker players have sound strategies and make good decisions — they can be predictable. And this is the “Achilles’ heel” that one must catch in order to beat them. You will be out of your comfort zone, but you will win.

The Mental Game of Poker: Proven Strategies for Improving Tilt Control, Confidence, Motivation, Coping with Variance, and More

Authors: Jared Tendler and Barry Carter (2011)

Tendler is a mental game coach who has helped poker players play their best no matter how bad their hand is running. This serves every player who has mastered several strategies and techniques well but may still make mistakes. He has to keep it together. The Mental Game of Poker includes testimonials from players who have applied Jared’s techniques. It is hailed as “the most definitive work on tilt ever released.”

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

Authors: Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie (2004)

Harrington is a World Poker Champion and holds the greatest accomplishment in the World Series of Poker History by making it to the final table in 2003 and 2004; while Robertie is a two-time World Backgammon Champion. This book is a peek into the minds of two geniuses on how to vary your style, analyze hands, play to win the most money possible, react when a bad card hits, and more. It’s as close as you can get!