Team Full Tilt
In recent months, many of our players have asked for suggestions on what poker books provide the best insights into the game. Being curious ourselves, we put the question to our pros and the answers we got back included some long-time favorites, along with a few surprises.
While our pros all have poker books that they like, not all of them believe that reading about poker theory is essential to improving their play. In fact, a few of our pros expressed sentiments along these lines:
We're not big fans of poker books. Once you get the basics down, is there something you can read that will drastically change your outlook on poker? Probably not. If there were a secret formula that would guarantee you'd always win, or one certain technique to win the most money, wouldn't everyone be playing that way already? The best teacher is experience. Choose
a playing style and game mentality that fits your style, then get out there and actively think about the game. See what works for you and what doesn't. No book will be as effective as your own thought process.
Still, many of our pros do have some suggestions about which titles you might want to add to your personal library.
Chris Ferguson believes David Sklansky's Hold 'em for the Advanced Player and Theory of Poker are perhaps the two best books out there. Both of Doyle Brunson's Super System books, and Mike Caro's Book of Tells have helped his game, too.
Steve Brecher agrees with "Jesus" about Sklansky's Theory of Poker for its idea of the semi-bluff and its analysis of the concept of odds in poker. Sklansky's Hold 'em for the Advanced Player and the rest of the Advanced Player series are also solid reads.
Brecher also likes Doyle Brunson's chapter on No-Limit Hold 'em in his Super System for its emphasis on the importance of implied odds (although that's Sklansky's phrase, not Brunson's).
Erik Seidel notes that he hasn't read many of the poker books out there, but his all-time favorite is The Biggest Game in Town by Al Alvarez.
Being friendly with Phil Gordon, Perry Friedman has gotten to read an advance copy of Phil's Little Green Book (due out in October), which he thinks provides the best example of how to teach people to think about the game. He adds that both of Dan Harrington's books are filled with incredible advice for tournament play.
When it comes to "non-strategy" books, the pros' choices are as varied as their playing styles at the table.
Howard Lederer says, "I've recently started reading some books on Zen Buddhism. Zen has always been associated with the fine arts of flower arranging, calligraphy, and tea making. But there is also quite a tradition of Zen in swordsmanship and archery. Through reading these books and, in particular, Zen in the Art of Archery, I have a greater understanding of the
process one goes through to master an art form. And poker is most certainly an art form."
Other more poker-related titles on our pros' bookshelves include Positively Fifth Street by James McManus, The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King by Michael Craig, and the recently published Tales from the Tiltboys by the Tiltboys. They're also looking forward to reading Nolan Dalla's biography of Stu Ungar, One of a Kind.
It's safe to say that the books listed above will provide you with an eclectic and comprehensive view of the strategies, techniques, and personality traits that can help you become a winning player. So enjoy these books, and good luck at the table.