Top 10 Poker Strategy Books
There are so many great poker books on the market today, much more so than there was 15 or even 10 years ago. We wanted to create an optimal all around top 10 list of essential reads to create a great overall balance to anyone’s poker games. Here are our top 10 best poker strategy books:
- Verbal Poker Tells
Via Regia. 2014
This follow-up to Reading Poker Tells covers ground not often explored, in strat books or anywhere else. Tells aren’t always faked hard swallows or furrowed brows. Knowing when your opponent has said too much can fatten your stack. These days, there’s a lot of focus on theory and PhD-level stuff, but not let’s forget the sleuthing that made up so much of the old-school game.
- Phil Gordon’s Little Gold Book: Advanced Lessons For Mastering Poker 2.0
Gallery Books. 2011
Plenty of great poker books had been written by about 2009, including a few color-coded ones by Phil Gordon himself. But by that time, it was clear that a lot of players were a lot more aggressive and were using math principles to make their decisions. The online game was influencing the live game.
So it became time to re-tool the box a bit, and Gordon did that with this book. The fact is, Gordon knows how to explain concepts. This book carries on that tradition, bringing in concepts that wouldn’t have been written about around the time Tom Dwan was finishing high school. Gordon covers three-betting and the three-bet defense, the Top 40% rule, and things like polarized ranges. It’s well-organized and handy.
- Pot-Limit Omaha Poker
Any list has to have a PLO book—it’s a great market to tap into. Jeff Hwang did that, applying his knack for explanations that are as lucid as they are analytical. His boss concept is the Big Play Strategy, which revolves around knowing how to draw to the hands that can win huge pots if you hit the flop.
- Sit ‘n Go Strategy
Two Plus Two. 2007
A Sit ‘n Go has a very manageable structure, and that allows Moshman to write a book that takes a player through the entire tournament. This book is all about an overall strategy for finishing in the money in—and winning—single-table tournaments.
Moshman foundations his strategy on playing ultra-tight in the early rounds of sit ‘n go’s, then play very aggressively in high-blind situations.
But in addition to the meta-strategy, Moshman discusses pre- and post-flop strategies on a hand-by-hand basis. The combo of analytical heft and ease of comprehension is pretty impressive.
- The Mathematics Of Poker
Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman
As in any field, a poker strat book can acquire value by hitting on a particular, well-defined subject. Your game needs to be well-rounded, and having the math down is pretty important. This book should help your game by, in short, catapulting you ahead of many, many mid-range players who don’t have the stomach to learn difficult math concepts.
- Harrington on Modern Tournament Poker
Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie
Two Plus Two. 2014.
Watch those clips of Action Dan in his velour shirts back in 1995, and it’s hard to imagine him keeping up with times during the Obama administration. With this update, Harrington and Robertie, in the style of earlier Harrington books, don’t mess around, fully fleshing out the concepts and hitting a wide range of scenarios.
- The Mental Game of Poker
Jared Tendler, Berry Carter
Jared Tendler. 2011
You can be the best in the world with poker strategy, but if you don’t have a handle on the mental game of poker, it will do you no good. Jared does a great job of highlighting the important points of how tilt, and subtle tilt can creep into a players game and destroy it. He provides good solid examples on how to recognize its onset, and strategies for alleviating it.
You’re going to have variance in poker, so you better have a good strategy for how to deal with it. The Mental Game of Poker provides a great framework for any poker player to use as a tool for improving on one of the most important aspects of poker, and life.
- Expert Heads Up No Limit Hold ‘Em Vol. 1: Optimal and Exploitative Strategies
D & B. 2012
Heads Up involves a lot of head games. The one-on-one nature, the task of just sneaking past that one opponent, throws people way off their games. This book will give you your PhD in Heads Up.
Rather than giving you shortcuts and little formulas, this book is theory having, complete with decision trees. Tipton hits bet sizing with appreciated detail. Not for the casual player, but excellent.
- Harrington On Hold ‘Em Vol. 1
Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie
Two Plus Two. 2004
This is the Rolls Royce of Hold ‘Em tournament strat books. An early section entitled “Elements of a Hand” is emblematic of the value of this book. In it, Harrington gives a brisk summary of all the things a poker player has to keep in mind in a hand.
The book does a nice job of keeping a big-picture feel, but also putting the microscope to the various streets of a hand. The wealth of hand examples and rich analysis is more than worth the price of admission. The problems put it over the top.
It’s hard to think of a book that can elevate the tournament game of a relatively-inexperienced player more than HOH vol. 1. It’s also an encyclopedia of great hand problems and analysis for anyone.
1. Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em
Johnathan Little, Phil Helmuth, Mike Sexton, Oliver Busuqut
D&B Publishing. July 2015
Johnathan Little does a great job of bringing together 17 of the top no-limit players in the world to discuss no-limit tournament strategy. Most of its concepts all to most games of poker, but what makes it great is that it gives excellent insight into how a lot of top players have approached the game. It’s well organized and hits on a lot of important topics.
If I were going to suggest only one poker book to someone wanting to learn more about the game, this would be it right now.