There's enough recommended reading material in this chapter to give you an undergraduate degree in poker. Like any recent college graduate, however, you'll find the real world to be somewhat different, and education at an entirely new level begins at the table. Nevertheless, these books will provide the basics you need.
Moreover, they are books you'll probably reread many times. Some of the concepts and strategies in the advanced books are very sophisticated, and beginning players will not grasp all of their potential implications in one reading. In fact, the more one learns, the more applicable many of these books become. You'll find yourself reading and digesting them in a repeating process of "read, play, and think," and never stopping because the process of learning and thinking about poker should never cease.
Recently there has been an explosion of poker books hitting the market. You picked this one, and it's a good start. Many excellent poker books have been written in the past decade — as well as a few that are really dreadful. Right now there is enough literature to build an entire poker curriculum, just as if we were going to construct a college reading list about poker.
Our intention in compiling this list is to not only identify worthwhile books, but to specify their order of study. To learn how to play well, and to do so quickly, you need a desire to learn and enough hours at the table to apply your new-found knowledge under game conditions. If you aspire to becoming a better player, there's more you need to read once you've thoroughly digested this book, and the reading list for our poker curriculum follows.
The Theory of Poker, by David Sklansky. Originally published in 1983 under the title Winning Poker, this classic is an absolute requirement for any player who seeks a thorough grounding in poker theory. Sklansky discusses poker theory and strategic concepts against a variety of games and situations. No matter what game you might decide to specialize in, this book is one that you will often refer to.
Super System — A Course in Power Poker, by Doyle Brunson. This is the bible of "how-to" poker books, covering most games you'll ever want to play. It was written by two-time world champion Brunson, along with selected experts such as Mike Caro, Chip Reese, David Sklansky, and former world champion Bobby Baldwin. In spite of changes in game structure that have occurred over the years, Super System is still the second book in your syllabus.
Caro's Book of Tells, by Mike Caro. For a long time this was the only book available dealing with body language at the table. Now this book has been supplemented with a two-tape video package called Caro's Pro Poker Tells. If one picture is worth a thousand words, these videos are worth millions.
Sklansky on Poker, by David Sklansky. This incorporates an earlier book titled Sklansky on Razz into a book full of solid, easily understood poker theory. Although not a magnus opus like The Theory of Poker, it belongs on the bookshelf of any serious poker student.
J*" Improve Your Poker, by Bob Ciaffone. Ciaffone, a Card Player Magazine columnist called "The Coach," presents sophisticated strategic concepts in such an easily understood manner that we decided to include this book in the recommended reading list for beginners. His advice on deception and bluffing, reading opponents, and tournament play is excellent, as are the sections on Hold'em, Stud, and Omaha poker.
V Fundamental Secrets of Poker, by Mike Caro. This book captures the most important concepts that Caro teaches at his popular poker seminars. (Caro takes his seminars on the road from time to time, but his home base is the Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life, based at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California.) This book provides sound advice on Seven-Card Stud and Hold'em, and contains tips on money management, teHs, psychology, and tournament advice.
i* How To Win at Low Limit Casino Poker, by Shane Smith, includes general strategies for low-limit play, and specific sections on Texas Hold'em, Omaha/8, Seven-Card Stud, and low buy-in tournament poker. It is well researched, well written and a good book for beginning players. Smith is also the author of Omaha Hi-Lo Poker. While Omaha Hi-Lo Poker is full of sound advice, we recommend that beginners become familiar with Texas Hold'em before venturing into an Omaha/8 game. But when you're ready to learn Omaha, Smith's book on Omaha should be your primer.
Hold'em books for Beginners
The following books should keep the aspiring Texas Hold'em player busy for a while:
IV Hold'em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner, by Lou Krieger More Hold'em Excellence: A Winner For Life, by Lou Krieger v* Winning Low Limit Hold'em, by Lee Jones
Actually, there is more than enough information in these three books to turn any newbie into a competitor who is far more knowledgeable than most beginning players. In fact, there's enough information in these books to make a winning player out of anyone willing to study and apply the concepts they learn.
SeVen-Card Stud books for beginners
Two books can give beginning stud players a solid grounding in the game:
I J*" Seven-Card Stud: The Complete Course in Winning at Medium and Lower Limits, by Roy West
V Seven-Card Stud: The Waiting Game, by George Percy
West's book is newer, easier to read, and broken down into lessons that make it easy for any beginner to get a good handle on the game.
Books (or advanced players
It's probably not surprising that there are more books written for advanced players than beginners, even though there are far more beginning players than those skilled enough to consider themselves a cut above the beginner's rung. Poker authors, after all, are not beginning players, and the natural temptation is to write to one's own level of expertise rather than to write for those who are not quite so advanced.
Once you've mastered the basics, here are some additional books you'll probably want to study to take your own game to the next level.
The "Championship" series
The Championship series of books, written by former World Champion Tom McEvoy and a man generally regarded as one of the best tournament players in the world, T. J. Cloutier, comprises the following:
| u0 Championship Stud Championship Hold'em Championship Omaha 1 f* Championship No-Limit and Pot Limit Hold'em
These books contain expert level advice from two highly regarded tournament professionals. The books are pragmatic and conversational in tone. Reading them is almost like listening to a tape recording of a conversation between two top players.
The "For Advanced Players" series
The "For Advanced Players" series of books is written by David Sklansky, Mason Malmuth, and, on occasion, Ray Zee. The series includes:
v0 Seven-Card Stud For Advanced Players
- Hold'em Poker For Advanced Players v0 High-Low Split Poker For Advanced Players (contains sections on Omaha/8 and Seven-Stud/8)
The For Advanced Players series and the Championship series are very different in tone, but it's that very difference that makes them complementary. Sklansky, Malmuth, and Zee lean heavily toward theory that is based on sound analytical and mathematical underpinnings. The Championship series is much more conversational in tone, and takes you into the inner thoughts of professional players in the heat of battle.
We recommend two books for tournament players:
V Tournament Poker, by Tom McEvoy, is probably the best book of its kind. McEvoy won the World Series of Poker in 1983, and has played poker professionally for more than two decades. This is a 340-page compendium of poker tournament advice, geared for experienced players.
f" Poker Tournament Tips From the Pros, by Shane Smith, is a good read for those new to tournament poker or for those seeking to enjoy themselves in smaller events (where the buy-ins are considerably less than what the big guns play for).
A number of other books are worth reading, too. Bob Ciaffone's books, Omaha Hold'em Poker and Pot-Limit and No-Limit Poker, (the latter co-authored by Stewart Reuben), contain solid advice for experienced players, and both belong in the library of any serious player.
David Sklansky's Getting the Best of It, Mason Malmuth's Gambling Theory and Other Topics, along with his Poker Essays, and Poker Essays — Volume II, are also highly recommended. Another collection of essays is also worth reading — this one by long-time Card Player columnist and Las Vegas-based professional poker player Roy Cooke — titled, Real Poker: The Cooke Collection.
If you want to supplement all of this technical material with some books that give you the flavor of poker, we recommend The Biggest Game In Town, by A. Alvarez, which is about the World Series of Poker and its participants.
You might also enjoy The Big Deal by Anthony Holden. In this book, Anthony "London Tony" Holden, the author of two authorized biographies of Prince Charles, takes a year off to play poker tournaments and cash games in Las Vegas, London, the Isle of Man, and other exotic locales. Holden's perception, wit, and self-deprecating sense of humor make this book a real page-turner.
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