Some say you don’t need to study to reach the top tier of poker players. Those actually in the top tier, however, usually say otherwise.
But which of 2023’s poker books are worth a read, and which aren’t worth a damn?
Now that the holiday season is well and truly upon us, here are PokerOrg’s suggestions for a fun, educational or simply entertaining book to enjoy with an eggnog – in no particular order.
1. Twenty-three No Limit Hold’em Tournament Hands from 2023: Review, Analysis & Stories
Talking over tricky hands is a great way to learn, and that approach has informed the latest book from player and author Matt Matros.
Matros has two great poker books already under his belt (The Poker Brain and The Game Plan), as well as three WSOP bracelets. His latest publication is short, but packed with interesting hands and unconventional lines from tournaments he’s played in the past year.
These 23 hands are split into sections focusing on specific situations such as blockers, the bubble and table dynamics. The result is a book that’s easy to dip into, yet filled with useful takeaways.
2. The Truth Detective: A Poker Player’s Guide to a Complex World
Full disclosure here: Alex O’Brien is a PokerOrg Player Advisory Board member, but this is a book that deserves to be read by anyone with an interest in poker, and specifically the life skills that poker can impart.
O’Brien examines all the skills a poker player uses to determine the truth in a game situation, extrapolating them into a set of tools and techniques that are useful in any area of life.
From reading people’s intentions to maintaining emotional stability and evaluating risk, the skills O’Brien has developed in her poker career are transferable to so many other fields that anyone can benefit from and enjoy this book, whether they know the game or not.
3. 100 Essential Tips to Master No-Limit Hold’em
Jonathan Little is another member of the PokerOrg Player Advisory Board, but that has nothing to do with this recommendation. His success as a player, coach and writer, however, has a lot to do with it.
Over $8 million in tournament winnings is only one half of the picture; Little is serious about his career as a poker coach, founding PokerCoaching.com and publishing a large number of highly-rated books on tournament poker, cash games and the psychological side of the game.
Here he distils essential poker knowledge into 100 crucial tips, covering everything from street-by-street strategy to game selection, thinking in ranges, bankroll management and more. In breaking complex concepts down into digestible and easy-to-comprehend pieces, Little’s latest is a great guide for less experienced players who are ready to up their game.
4. A Neuroscientist’s Guide to Texas Hold’em: Unraveling the Mind Game of Poker
Adam Kulp, PhD
There’s cards and psychology, and then there’s neuroscience. This short book aims to explore the science behind human decision-making, delving into areas such as memory, focus and emotional regulation, and how these complicated dynamics come to the fore when playing poker.
The result is a book that can help you better regulate and understand your own responses to various situations in a game, as well as be more perceptive when it comes to the behavior of others. While its approach to poker strategy can be overly basic at times, the way it adds science to the mix brings some refreshing novelty to the table.
A neuroscientific exploration of the Garrett Adelstein/Robbi Jade Lew ‘J4’ hand adds an extra dash of entertainment.
5. A-Game Poker: Master The Mental Game, Create A Winning Mindset & Dominate The Modern Poker Game
Elliot Roe & Ryan Carter
Elliot Roe is a mental-game coach who has helped numerous stars of poker, as well as elite performers in other fields, to realize their potential. He approaches the mindset preparations needed to play your A-game with the same methodical attitude as a professional sports psychologist, and many of his clients share their stories in this book.
If you’re wondering who those clients might be, and whether Roe’s coaching has helped their results, we’ll point you to this list of some who have contributed content to the book: Phil Galfond, Fedor Holz, Kevin Martin, Matt Berkey, Alex Foxen and more.
If you’re looking to gain an edge in areas away from hard strategy, this book should be right up your street.
6. Uncovering Five-Card Pot Limit Omaha
Much has been written about Texas hold’em, less has been written about pot-limit Omaha, and even less has been written about five-card PLO. If you’re a player who enjoys the added complexity, excitement and gamble that comes with the addition of extra cards, you could do worse than find this book in your stocking this Christmas morning.
Covering everything from starting hand selection to bet-sizing, common mistakes and the application of GTO strategies, Chen’s short but handy book provides a great jumping-off point for players looking to add something new to their poker diet.
Milestone Satellite Strategy
Dara O’Kearney with Barry Carter
Milestone satellites, also known as target satellites, are one of the newer developments in tournament poker. Awarding seats as soon as a target stack size is reached, these milestone satellites require a slightly different strategic approach than regular satellites. And when it comes to satellite strategy, there are few that can hold a candle to the work of Dara O’Kearney.
O’Kearney’s 2019 book with Barry Carter, Poker Satellite Strategy (PSR), remains for many the definitive word on the subject, but milestone satellites were more or less unknown at the time the book was first published. With this additional chapter, focusing exclusively on milestone satellites and released in November 2023, that problem has been rectified.
The chapter is currently available to buy as a digital download, so owners of PSR won’t have to buy an entirely new book to keep up to speed with the advice of messrs O’Kearney and Carter. It will be included in future editions of PSR.
These are just some of the poker books that have caught our eye during 2023. If you have recommendations of your own, do share them with us and our readers via our socials. Happy holidays, and happy reading!
Feature images courtesy of PokerStars Live and WPT