5 Best poker books every serious player must read

Poker.Org Staff
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Posted on 06/22/2021

There are thousands on the market, so choosing the best poker books worth reading can seem like a daunting task. Fear not, our beloved readers, Poker.org has you covered. We’ve carefully chosen five books that any poker player will enjoy and benefit from reading. We aren’t receiving any compensation from the authors of these fine pieces of literature, nor are we affiliated with the publishers.

1. Super System (Doyle Brunson)

You can’t take any list of best poker books seriously if it doesn’t include the most iconic book of them all, Super System, written by “The Godfather of Poker” himself, Doyle Brunson. The Poker Hall of Famer wrote the famous piece in 1979, and it was one of the first ever books on poker strategy. Super System has stood the test of time and is still a part of just about every serious poker player’s collection.

Doyle originally planned to name it, “How I Made Over $1,00,000 Playing Poker,” but thought better of it. Super System teaches basic poker concepts that still hold true to this day. Beginning poker players will learn how to play sound poker and also discover how Brunson became the two-time WSOP Main Event champion. Brunson would go on to later write Super System 2, another great piece worth reading.

2. The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win (Maria Konnikova)

New York Times author and psychologist Maria Konnikova, who previously had no poker playing experience, set out to write a book on the psychology of poker in 2017. She had limited understanding of the game, so she befriended top pros such as Erik Seidel to help her learn the mental aspects of playing poker for a living.

A strange thing happened along the way. While shadowing Seidel during his high-stakes play, Konnikova became fascinated with the game of poker, so much so that she began taking it up as a hobby. She quickly mastered it and put aside her writing project to play for a living instead. In 2020, she finally finished her book, The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win. It’s one of the best poker books ever, and she tells an interesting story about her journey from poker newbie to poker champ within one year.

3. The Theory of Poker (David Sklansky)

David Sklansky was a prominent high-stakes poker player in the 1990s and the early parts of this century. He’s one of the most intelligent players ever, and his book, The Theory of Poker, helped shape the future of the game. Sklansky was ahead of his time, incorporating advanced theoretical-based concepts in an era when players were more about feel than math.

The Theory of Poker, written in 1978, is one of the most important and best poker books of all-time. It teaches readers how to think like a professional poker player. Some of the concepts learned in Sklansky’s book include the value of deception, calculating pot odds, and understanding game theory, a concept that was foreign to most players back in the 1970’s when Sklansky wrote his famous book.

4. Life’s a Gamble (Mike Sexton)

The late Mike Sexton, one of poker’s all-time greatest ambassadors, was among the best storytellers in the game. His 2016 autobiography, Life’s a Gamble, chronicles the long-time World Poker Tour announcer’s life as a high-stakes gambler, from wild prop bets to late-night high-stakes cash games. In typical fashion, Sexton tells some unbelievable stories about the craziness of being a lifelong professional gambler.

He also shares details about his involvement with partypoker, the poker site he helped launch in 2001. And he takes readers on his journey from college gymnast to World Poker Tour commentator and the Poker Hall of Fame. Sexton is one of the most interesting poker figures in history, and this book doesn’t disappoint.

5. Harrington on Hold’em (Dan Harrington)

Dan Harrington pulled off one of the most impressive impressive accomplishments in poker history — reaching the WSOP Main Event in consecutive years (2003, 2004). The Poker Hall of Fame member is one of the game’s most legendary pros, having dominated tournament poker in the 1980s and 1990s, and then into the early 2000s.

Harrington is also an author who penned the iconic Harrington on Hold’em poker strategy book in 2004 along with Bill Robertie. In the legendary book, “Action Dan” teaches the fundamental strategies for playing winning poker, such as calculating pot odds, the psychology and math behind the game of poker, and maximizing winnings. The techniques taught in Harrington’s book are still used by the top pros of today.

Summary

This list of the five best books on poker in the world presents a gold mine of winning game play insights. If you read these books, you’ll gain new ideas and strategies that will enhance your skills. Use this list as a treasure trove of high-stakes knowledge, and you’ll start to see a sharp improvement in your game. Who knows — one day we might all be reading your winning poker book.

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