I’ve put together a list of the 21 Texas holdem poker books every player should read. In this list you’ll find books designed to help you improve your game and change your mental outlook of the game whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player.
1 – The Theory of Poker
David Sklansky is known as a top authority on gambling. While working as an actuary he found a new numbers systems that made his job faster but he didn’t receive the recognition he wanted. He left his job to pursue a career as a professional gambler. In poker, he received the recognition he was after by winning the other player’s money.
Sklanksky has written 10 books about gambling and has also recorded videos, given seminars and appeared in various gaming publications. He has also won three World Series of Poker bracelets and continues to make a living by professional gambling.
His book The Theory of Poker was published in 1999. It has been said that it’s the best poker book ever written and that it separates the pros from the typical poker player.
The Theory of Poker covers:
Five-card draw high
Value of position
And free card
2 – Super System
Doyle F. Brunson has played professional poker for over 50 years. Besides being a gambling author he’s also a Poker Hall of Fame inductee, a two-time World Series of Poker Main Event champion, won ten WSOP bracelets, the first player to earn a million dollars from poker tournaments, and one of two people to win the WSOP tournaments four years in a row.
Brunson originally hoped to become a professional basketball player but a knee injury didn’t allow him to pursue it. After earning a master’s degree he took a business salesman job. The first day of his job he earned over a month’s salary playing a seven-card stud game. Shortly after this he left the company to pursue a career as a professional poker player.
Brunson and a group of friends travelled and bet on everything they could find. After six years of this they earned a six-figure amount and travelled to Las Vegas where they lost it all. They then began playing solo.
He self-published his book Super System in 1978 and it became known as the poker players bible. Super System gives you an insight into how professionals like Brunson play and win. Brunson says giving this insight to ordinary players could end up costing him a lot of money by giving them the knowledge to beat him.
3 – Super System 2
Doyle Brunson’s book Super System 2 was published in 2004 and includes contributions from other top poker players Bobby Baldwin, David Sklansky, Joey Hawthorne, Mike Caro, and Chip Reese.
Super System 2 continues the theme of Super System by giving players a look into the heads of professional poker players. It also covers various forms of poker.
4 – Harrington on Hold ’em Volume 1
Dan Harrington is a professional poker player, Poker Hall of Fame member, won the World Series of Poker in 1995, has two WSOP bracelets, a World Poker Tour title, and has earned over six million dollars through tournaments. He goes by the nickname of Action Dan which he picked out himself.
Before he became a poker player he was a U.S. chess master and a backgammon champion. He also worked as a bankruptcy lawyer for a number of years.
Harrington currently works in the stock market and real estate. He also owns the company Anchor Loans which Harrington says has been successful and taken no loss since its creation.
Harrington and friend Bill Robertie wrote Harrington on Hold ‘em Volume 1 and it was published in 2004. This book is intended for serious players who play in no-limit tournaments and doesn’t cover basic poker information. The book starts with the history on poker and a glossary of poker terms. It covers strategic play such as pot odds, starting hands, playing styles, and hand analysis.
It has been noted that this book is written similar to a chess guide.
5 – Harrington on Hold ’em Volume 2
Harrington on Hold’em Volume 2 is the second book written by Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie and was published in 2005, a year after their first book in the series. While volume 1 was all about beginning game play, volume 2 teaches you how to play in the later phases when the blinds and antes are up and you can practically smell the prize money.
This book covers how to handle tricky inflection point players, maneuver when the tournament is down to the last few players, and how to make moves. Volume 2 also has a chapter on heads-up play.
6 – Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Tournaments
Jonathan Little is a professional poker player who has won WPT Season VI Player of the Year award, SeasonVII Foxwoods World Poker Finals, and World Poker Tour’s Season VI Mirage Poker Showdown. He has played online with the screen names JonLittle, Jcardshark, and Fiery Justice.
He also does a weekly educational poker blog, a podcast on his website, created two of his own poker training websites, and creates training packs for a poker strategy game on Apple.
Little was in college studying psychology when he started playing poker online. In six months he had earned $35,000 and he then dropped out of college to be a professional poker player.
He wrote the book Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Tournaments to help players learn how to play and win in these tournaments so they can eventually move to higher stake tournaments. This book is for players that already understand the basics of poker and want to enhance their playing skills.
His book is organized based on the type of player you’re instead of which action you want to take. It’s written in a conversational style which many readers find easy to read. The overall theme of the book is finding your opponents habits, mistakes, and tendencies and how to exploit them.
7 – Every Hand Revealed
Gustav “Gus” Hansen is a Danish professional poker player. He has won one WSOP bracelet, the 2007 Aussie Millions main event, season one of Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament, and three World Poker Tour open titles. While a child Hansen was a youth tennis champion and a world class backgammon player. Besides poker, he also bets on professional sports.
His book Every Hand Revealed was published in 2008. In this book you learn about Hansen’s personal playing style during the 2007 Aussie Millions tournament and how he won. His book includes analysis on more than 300 hands, his logical yet aggressive approach that has helped him win, calling large bets with unplayable hands, reading his opponents bluffs, prize structure, and more.
8 – Winning Low Limit Hold ’em
Winning Low Limit Hold’em was written by Lee Jones and was published in 1994. It’s an introduction to Texas Hold’em that teaches anyone all they need to know to start a career from it.
The first part of the book covers reading the board, pot odds, implied odds, rules of the game, and identifying if the type of game you’re joining is loose, tight, passive, or aggressive.
The second part of the book covers how to play in a loose game from the pre-flop card to the betting round. It goes into detail about the post-flop tops like big pairs, pre-flopped rivers, draws, a made straight, and playing a flopped set. He puts the cards into four categories which are connectors, suited aces and kinds, big cards, and pocket pairs. He then talks about several situations for each category and how they should be played.
The third part of the book covers several topics such as jackpot games, bluffing, stereotypes, playing in a spread limit, and implicit collusion.
9 – Hold ’em Poker for Advanced Players
Mason Malmuth is owner of Two Plus Two Publishing and a professional poker player. In 1978 while on a work assignment he stopped overnight in Las Vegas where he first discovered his interest in gambling. Several years after this, he quit his job and has been a professional poker player and author full time since then. He has written 20 books and over 600 articles and those numbers continue to grow today.
His book Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players was published in 1994. This book teaches you that getting good and winning at hold’em poker takes patience and discipline. His book is not for beginner players, it’s for experience players who already have a strong grasp of the game and want to further their skills.
The newest edition includes information on:
The free card
Play on the first two cards
Staying with a draw
Playing trash hands
Playing in wild games
Playing when a pair flops
And reading hands
10 – Caro’s Book of Poker Tells
Mike A. Caro is a poker author, casino executive, pioneer poker theorist, and a professional poker player. His book Caro’s Book of Poker Tells was published in 2003 and focuses on the psychology and body language of poker.
In his book Caro tells you his secrets of winning by reading his opponents. He covers mannerisms such as sighs, shaky hands, shrugs, eye contact, and more. There’s over 170 photos in this book of players in action and examples of their tells.
His book is divided into two sections which are reading the tells from people who are unaware they’re giving any and reading the actors who are giving out misleading tells. This book is helpful to the beginner so they can learn which tells they’re giving out during their game play. This book is also useful for more experienced players to learn how to read tells and determine if it’s legitimate or if they’re acting.
11 – Positively Fifth Street
James “Jim” McManus is a poker player and an author of both poker and for an arts institute in Chicago. His book Positively Fifth Street was published in 2003 and is a nonfiction book placed at the World Series of Poker tournament in spring of 2000.
In his book McManus talks about the progress of women, the murder of Ted Binion who was the tournaments host, and McManus’ decision to join the tournament himself. Through this book McManus tells two stories, one of the murder of Binion that was blamed on his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend and the second of his own story including a side of his personality he calls Bad Jim.
12 – Small Stakes Hold ‘em
Small Stakes Hold ‘em was written by Ed Miller, David Sklansky, and Mason Malmuth. This book teaches an aggressive style of play used by professional players. By using detailed examples you learn how to make professional decisions.
This book covers:
The importance of being suited
Evaluating the flop
Protecting your hand
And betting for value on the river
There are also over fifty quizzes that range from common to expert decisions to test your knowledge. After you answer you can see the authors’ play and why they played it that way.
13 – Excelling at No Limit Hold ‘em
Excelling at No Limit Hold ‘em was put together by Jonathan Little and published in 2015 but includes writings from seventeen different experts on no limit hold’em.
These authors include:
And Elliot Roe
This book is separated into three main parts. The first two parts cover the technical side of the game and the third part covers the mental side of the game.
14 – The Mental Game of Poker
Jared Tendler is a professional golfer, number one ranked pool player in the world, financial trader, and a mental game coach to world champion poker players. His book The Mental Game of Poker was published in 2011.
In his book Tendler teaches you to fix problems like emotional control, fear, motivation, tilt, variance, and confidence. His book focuses solely on the mental side of poker and how to improve your game by improving your mental state.
15 – The Course
Ed Miller has been playing and writing about hold ‘em for 14 years. His book The Course was published in 2015. This book focuses on how to think differently from the other players.
The idea behind The Course is that the only thing you control is your own course of action. You can’t control the other players so they’re only distractions. This book is a step by step guide to winning by skill level. You learn and master skills and then build on those skills to learn others and advance your knowledge.
This book adapts to where you are in your current skill level. Rather you’re a beginner or an experienced player you can learn from this book.
16 – Harrington on Cash Games
Harrington on Cash Games is another series of books by Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie. This book is volume 1 and is about How to Win at No-Limt Hold ‘em Money Games and was published in 2008.
No limit games have become more popular because of the chance to win a greater profit but the game play differs between limited and no-limit games. This book will help beginners learn the skills they need to play in full ring games and feel confident at the table.
The book covers the principles of betting, deception, strength, and aggression. After reading a chapter you’re shown example hands. They also talk about advanced concepts like firing two and three barrel bluffs and floating.
17 – No Limit Hold ‘em Theory and Practice
No Limit Hold ‘em Theory and Practice was written by David Sklansky and Ed Miller and published in 2006. In this book the two authors teach you the expert thinking behind winning and how and why they play like they do.
This book covers:
Winning the battle of mistakes
Manipulating opponents in playing badly
Adjusting based on stack sizes
Manipulating pot size
How to size your bets and raises
Short stacked play
18 – Professional No Limit Hold ‘em
Professional No Limit Hold ‘em was written by Matt Flynn, Sunny Mehta, and Ed Miller and was published in 2007. This book is an easy to understand book for beginners to build their skills and knowledge in complex situations.
This book teaches you about what planning a hand is and how to do it. They focus on pot control, such as how to control your pot size and the steps to make your pot size what you want. This book will help you understand concepts like The Commitment Threshold, Stack-To-Pot Ratios, and The REM Process.
19 – Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Cash Games
Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Cash Games was written by Jonathan Little and published in 2015. This book has been written in an easy to read style with concepts and strategies that are easy to grasp and apply to your game play for fast results.
This book takes advantage of the small stakes environment to teach you how to exploit the weaknesses of the other players. You learn how to assess the situation and players to make adjustments to your hand and win.
20 – Hold ‘em Wisdom for All Players
Daniel Negreanu is a professional poker player from Canada who’s won 2 World Poker Tour championship titles and 6 World Series of Poker bracelets and is a member of the Poker Hall of Fame. With winnings of over $32,600,000 Negreanu is the biggest live tournament winner ever.
Negreanu first started playing poker at the age of 16 and dropped out of high school while only a few credits short from graduating. Since then he has been earning a living as a professional poker player.
His book Hold ‘em Wisdom for all Players was published in 2007. His book is separated into 50 sections with a different winning concept in each. This book was made for beginners or novice players who want instant success.
21 – The Poker Tournament Formula
Arnold Snyder has been a professional gambler and writer for over two decades now. His book The Poker Tournament Formula will teach you how fast a tournament is and how to adjust your game accordingly.
Snyder puts tournaments into 6 different categories and then depending on live or online play he teaches you a simple strategy. Here’s an example: if you’re playing online and it falls into one of the first two levels than you should use a freewheeling play style. This book will make you rethink your strategies and improve your game play.
In this list of 21 books you can determine which books you need to find and read to improve your game play. Whether you’re looking for technical or mental skills, there’s a book for you here.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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