Gambling with real US money is hard. There’s really no two ways about it (and if it weren’t hard, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now).
But don’t worry about it. Lots of people find that they want to know more about the subject and are willing to put the time and effort into studying the game and learning the best ways to play it.
While blogs like this one are a great way to find out more about the game, that’s not the only way. A lot of books have been printed (or electronically delivered) on the subject of improving your game. As in all things, some of the books out there are invaluable resources about the game, while others are poorly written, poorly thought-out, or sometimes, just plain wrong.
In order to save you from that, I took to Amazon and compiled a list of the best books on the subject of poker and ranked them by average review ranking. From there, I cut anything that wasn’t a how-to book and axed anything with less than 15 customer reviews. From there, I generated this list.
1 – Master Micro Stakes Poker
The first entry on our list is a relatively new entry from poker coach Alton Hardin. Hardin has published several books on poker theory, but has focused primarily on how to make big money in smaller stakes games (hence, “micro stakes” in the title). This alone distinguishes it from many other books on the topic as does the community and additional thought behind the subject.
It’s a good book that adds a lot of thought into a skillset that every poker player should have (making money without being in a huge cash game). Even better, it’s hard to argue with the price.
The book is available on Kindle Unlimited and can be read for free by Kindle Unlimited subscribers. It can also be bought in eBook form for less than $10 or paperback for less than $25.
2 – Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em
Jonathan Little’s expert book on poker takes the opposite approach as Master Micro Stakes Poker. This game is about pushing yourself to achieve more and, by definition, the limitless nature of no limit holdem means bigger pots and more money.
What’s interesting about this book is that although Jonathan Little’s name graces the title and cover, there were 18 authors, including Phil Helmuth, Mike Sexton, and Chris Moneymaker. That’s some serious poker knowledge in one volume. Fortunately, it does make the book’s otherwise higher price tag worth it.
The book can be bought in Kindle, audiobook, or paperback. The audiobook format will run you just under $21, the eBook costs $25 and the paperback a little under $29.
3 – Exploitative Play in Live Poker
Exploitative Play in Live Poker is one of those books I kind of wish didn’t exist while adding it to my reading list. Alexander Fitzgerald, the book’s author and audiobook narrator, has rightly discovered that players in live play have certain tendencies that can be exploited during certain game situations. There’s nothing dirty about this, though the title “exploitative play” makes the book feel like it’s in a gray area.
It’s better to think this book is about getting a psychological edge, which it does, but a lot of it covers game theory concepts.
All in all, it’s worth about $14 for an audiobook, around $18 for an eBook or the same price for a paperback.
4 – Exploiting Poker Tells
The cover of Exploiting Poker Tells looks like it should be found in the Halloween section, not the poker section. Still, the image isn’t a skull, it’s a guy thinking, which makes more sense in the end. Still, don’t judge a book by its cover. Instead, dive into Zachary Elwood’s evidence-based, real world guide to deciphering what an opponent is telling you and how you can win with that information.
What’s really nice about this book is the hand history and personal narrative from poker pros. It keeps what could be a really boring or dry subject and makes it real.
It’s available as an eBook or paperback for about $23, or audiobook for around $14.
5 – Mastering Poker Math: Become a Feared Shark in Texas No-Limit Hold ‘Em
Poker math. Can anything be more exciting than math? Of course not!
Just kidding. Lots of things are more exciting than math, but give it to author Chuck Clayton for dedicating 279 pages to the subject, all while making it practical and giving players actionable insights.
At first, the book’s outline looks a lot like a college-level math course, but once you start reading about “The Power and Problems with Aces” or “Selecting Great Starting Hands,” you can see that Clayton offers really great insight.
This book is available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers or about $10 if you want to buy the eBook. The paperback is available for less than $24.
6 – Phil Gordon’s Poker Box Set
If one book on poker were not enough, can I interest you in three? Such are the offerings included in Phil Gordon’s Poker Box Set and includes Phil Gordon’s Little Black Book, Phil Gordon’s Little Green Book, and Phil Gordon’s Little Blue Book. All of which, strangely enough, are by Phil Gordon.
These books are classic works of poker strategy that have not lost their edge even as the books have aged. Sadly, they are out of print, but you can buy the set on Amazon for less than $27, which makes them a real steal.
7 – Pot-limit Omaha Poker: The Big Play Strategy
Right off the bat, this seems like a very narrow topic, but it’s a popular book amongst Amazon poker shoppers. It also teaches something right off the bat (that Omaha holdem is popular in Europe where you have to figure many don’t even know where Omaha is). Anyway, Jeff Hwang has put a lot of thought and effort into Omaha strategy and how to make money in poker even when the pots aren’t huge.
Picking up this book is easy. It’s less than $8 on Kindle and less than $15 for the paperback. That’s a real steal for a surprisingly deep topic.
8 – Modern Poker Theory: Building an Unbeatable Strategy Based on GTO Principles
Michael Acevedo adds another entry into the list that talks about game theory optimal (GTO) play. This book promises to increase your poker acumen by explain what GTO is then showing you how you can use it to excel in your poker games.
It’s a professionally put-together volume that has some very glowing reviews. It’s also nice to have because game theory is becoming a more popular topic. The popularity of the topic drives the price, though, as the book is about $40 for the eBook and around $35 for the paperback.
9 – Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker: The Complete Workout
Welcome Jonathan Little back to the list. He is trying to teach us how to dominate tournament poker as a form of making big poker dollars. The complete workout is the third volume on making money at tournament poker, this time with a focus on the “nuances of tournament play.” This book uses a question and answer format to expand upon the first two volumes.
It’s an interesting take and works best if one has also read his other books on poker. It can still be read standalone, however. Either way, this volume will cost around $20 for the eBook and $27 for the paperback.
10 – Doyle Brunson’s Super System: A Course in Power Poker
Doyle Brunson’s been the name in poker books for years and you can’t go wrong when you purchase it. I have no stake in that claim and make no money if you buy it, but I can tell you the book has been around since 2002 and is still the 10th highest-rated poker book on Amazon. That alone has to tell you something.
It’s also the only thing that says “Super System” and “Power Poker” that doesn’t immediately feel scammy. That is the power of Brunson’s writing.
Buying the book can be a bit tricky since the hardcover is currently on sale for about $185. The paperback, though, can be had for about $10 and can be purchased used from a number of vendors.
As you can see, there are a lot of books on poker out there, each with their specific focuses and areas of expertise. While it’s always good to keep abreast of the latest trends by reading blogs like this one, which we will always encourage you to do, it can be good to pick up a book.
Books are able to go far deeper into one particular topic and explore many of its angles. Whether that’s GTO, tells, or the mysteries of pot limit Omaha Holdem, there will always be a book out there that’s perfect for you.