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Five of the Most Important Poker Strategy Books
It is easy to forget the importance of poker strategy books when it comes to improving your skills. We live in a digital world where information is at our fingertips 24/7, where videos auto-play wherever you go and where even books are available on a screen.
There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of poker strategy books published over the years. Some are worth their weight in gold, others have advice in them that is so poor the book isn’t worth the paper it is written on. Others have actually shaped the game of poker and are important, at least historically, to this amazing game.
Super System was originally called How I Made Over $1,000,000 Playing Poker and was written by the legendary figure that is Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson. Published in 1979, Super System is one of the first book about poker strategy ever written. It is arguably the best, too.
Nobody knew how professional poker players approached the game until they read Super System. Poker was rarely televised and there were no hole card cameras to see what players were holding.
Brunson’s book, regarded as a poker bible back then, gave an insight into how a top professional poker player played a loose-aggressive style, bluffed and even laid down strong hands. The fact the book also covered various mixed games including seven-card stud, draw poker, and lowball made Super System the book to have.
While Super System is a worthy addition to any poker strategy book collection, most of the information is outdated, as are most strategy books after a short period of time.
The Theory of Poker
Do not buy The Theory of Poker if you expect to be taught how to play pocket tens to a three-bet from a loose-passive player because it simply is not that kind of poker strategy book. David Sklansky’s 1999 masterpiece is more about how to think like a professional poker player.
It can be quite hard going in some places because, as the name suggests, it is heavy on the theory side of the game. It could be worth the price of buying just to delve into what Sklansky called the Fundamental Theorem of Poker. That said, if you can digest it, some of the concepts discussed are still relevant today and being able to think like a pro can sometimes lead you to playing like one.
Harrington on Hold’em
Harrington on Hold’em was a three-book series published in 2004, 2005 and 2006 by Dan Harrinton, winner of the 1995 World Series of Poker Main Event. Harrington reached the final table of the WSOP Main Event in 1987, 1995, 2003 and 2004 and created this tournament strategy book on that back of that success.
All three books are easy to read with plenty of simple visuals to help you grasps the concepts. This was the first time a poker strategy book had focussed purely on tournament poker and it was a massive hit around the world.
Volume 2: The Endgame is Harrington’s best work. Here, he discusses how to change playing style based on stack sizes and opponents, using your image as a tight-aggressive player to run huge bluffs and concepts such as M-ratio and Q-ratio.
By all means, add this book to your collection and it was will show you how to be a tight-aggressive player. Just be aware that following this book to the letter will probably see you play too tight.
Every Hand Revealed
Gus Hansen won the $10,500 buy-in Aussie Millions Main Event in 2007 for A$1,500,000 but it was a small Dictaphone by his side that was more important.
You see, Hansen was documenting every single hand he played during that tournament, giving insights into why he had limped in, raised a specific player, or called a three-bet with absolute junk. Nobody had ever done this before and Every Hand Revealed was an eye-opening experience to say the least.
There are loose players and then there is Hansen, a player infamous for literally playing any two cards. It is a style that served him well in his early career where he won a WSOP bracelet and three World Poker Tour Main Events as he racked up more than $10 million in winnings. His style and lack of table selection saw him crucified online, however, and Hansen has more than $20 million in losses in the online poker world!
The Mental Game of Poker
Where most poker strategy books focus solely on how to play against certain opponent types or in specific situations, The Mental Game of Poker helps you fight the demons in your own head.
One area that often separates the good players from the elite is mental toughness and being able to continue playing to the best of their ability when the chips are down. Poker is a game where you can play perfectly yet still lose and that is a hard concept to grasp.
Jared Tendler, a sports psychologist, and Barry Carter have written this two-part series that is a must buy because all of the concepts can also be applied to everyday life; they really are modern masterpieces.