10 Must Read Poker Books for 2020
Get Tips and Strategy from the Best Minds in the World of Poker with These Amazing Poker Books
There are now hundreds of poker books, covering every topic and angle you can think of. For players looking to improve their game, books are invaluable resources. You can spend time away from the tables, picking up strategy insights and ideas from the best minds in the poker business. But which books are the must-read poker books?
With so many options available, it can be a challenge to find the best poker books. This is where our list of the top 10 poker books comes in. This list includes picks that will literally transform your game.
List of the Top 10 Most Popular Poker Strategy Books for 2020
Here are the books covered below:
- Doyle Brunson’s Super System
- Harrington on Hold’em
- David Sklansky’s Theory of Poker
- Mike Caro’s Book of Poker Tells
- Small Stakes Hold’em by Ed Miller
- Chris Moorman’s Book of Poker (Tournament Strategy)
- The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tandler
- Phil Helmuth’s Texas Hold’em
- The Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen
- Sit N Go Strategy by Colin Moshman
1. Super System by Doyle Brunson
This was the original poker strategy book – and is still considered the standard by which all of the must-read poker books are judged today. There are now two volumes “Super System I and Super System II“. Super System II includes updated information, plus additional chapters by many well-known poker pros.
It was produced long before the current poker boom, though the concepts covered are evergreen. Doyle Brunson put forward an aggressive strategy guide. This is based on raising and re-raising good hands – and calling when you have outs, even if your express odds are not favourable. His idea is that even if the direct odds are not there, you’ll get a tough table image that means people will not bluff you.
Super System covers many poker formats, and with pro players including Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan and Lyle Berman contributing thoughts and experience – should be top of anyone’s must-read poker books list.
2. Harrington On Hold’em Volumes 1 to 3
These books were groundbreaking in that they used real hands to explain many of the concepts critical to tournament success. Small diagrams, showing chip stacks, position and blind levels helped bring the hands to life. The best action (as well as mistakes) were explained in a clear format – adding value to small stakes players as well as pros.
While factors like raise sizes have changed, many of the fundamental concepts covered make these poker books relevant today – almost 15 years after they were published. Dan Harrington went on to produce another three books, which focus on deep stacked cash games. These should also be on your poker books ‘must read’ list – after you have gone through the 10 books covered here.
3. David Sklansky’s Theory of Poker
Many games have fundamental factors which drive your strategy. Until David Sklansky wrote ‘The Theory of Poker’, this was one game which lacked one. To say this book had a big effect on the game would be a complete understatement.
The theory itself is simple. It is that if you play a hand differently to how you would play it if you could see your opponent’s cards, you lose. If your opponents do this, you win. It is the explanation and application of this theory which still blow the minds of new players today. No other book provides such a great explanation of expected value and poker odds. Sklansky dollars, which represent your long-term gains for a play (taking variation into account) became a popular term after being introduced in this book.
While this book uses examples from the world of fixed-limit poker (which was the main game played at the time), it is easy to apply the concepts to No-Limit Hold’em. Some people have argued that the ability to dominate tables with a big stack dilutes the effectiveness of the fundamental theory. This really is a minor criticism in what is one of the best poker books.
4. Mike Caro’s Book of Poker Tells
Most of the books covered here focus on the strategy of playing hands and situations. Mike Caro, whose offbeat style and decades of experience shine through in this book – focuses on a different topic, poker tells.
These are the physical signs which give you a clue as to your opponent’s likely hands. Caro came up with the concept that ‘weak means strong, and strong means weak’. That is to say that opponents acting like they have a strong hand often have the opposite – and the same for weakness. If you see an opponent sigh, shrug and ‘reluctantly’ put their chips into the pot, you’d better have a monster hand yourself before you call.
With so many players aware of tells these days – they can be reversed. What you’ll take from this book is an understanding of both ‘acting’ tells and automatic physical reactions – which are largely out of the player’s direct control.
5. Small Stakes Hold’em by Ed Miller
Ed Miller is a cash game pro, and author of more than 10 poker books. His focus these days is on live games. Titles like ‘Playing the Player’ and ‘The Course’ are certainly worth a read.
Small Stakes Hold’em is my pick as one of the best poker strategy books for its focus on games that regular people play. While all the poker books listed have ideas which can be used – many of these are written for experienced players in bigger buy-in games. Many players know that when it comes to small games, loose and passive opponents will call bets with almost anything. Getting a fundamental strategy to beat them can be frustrating at times.
Miller lays out exactly this strategy. He covers starting hands, odds and outs and playing the flop, turn and river. Limit games are used for the examples, though there are plenty of evergreen concepts which apply to different poker formats.
6. Chris Moorman’s Book of Poker Strategy
To say Chris Moorman crushes online poker tournaments is putting things mildly. This poker pro has dominated the games to a huge extent – winning multiple ‘Triple Crowns’. This describes taking down 3 or more big buy-in tournaments in a single week.
This poker tournament strategy book was written together with another pro (Byron Jacobs). Its format takes a lot of hands from online poker tournaments and explains why Chris took the action he did. You can get inside the mind of someone that literally crushes the games he is describing.
Compared to some of the other good poker books listed here, this is a fairly recent title. It was released in 2014 and applies directly to online poker tournaments running right now.
7. The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tandler
Mindset and mental leaks can be devastating to your poker bankroll. Jared Tandler’s book was the first to address the mental aspects of succeeding in poker – and is still a classic on this important topic.
You’ll find information on coping with the natural variance (both positive and negative) in the game. Remaining disciplined enough to put in the hours required to be successful – and on how to avoid bankroll-destroying bouts of tilt.
If you are considering turning professional, either in the live setting or online, then this Texas Hold’em poker book is a must-read. By getting your mindset right from the outset, you’ll be able to focus on the day-to-day activities like putting your opponents on a hand. The original 2011 edition was so popular that Tandler produced a sequel in 2013.
8. Phil Hellmuth’s Texas Hold’em
Another classic poker book, and another one from a WSOP Main Event winner. While Phil Hellmuth is often seen as a ‘cartoon’ character based on his TV antics, he is an incredible poker player – with a track record which is unrivalled (in terms of WSOP bracelets at least).
In this poker book (available in PDF format), Hellmuth introduced the concept of categorizing players as different animals. You have a mouse, elephant, lion and so on. While this is basic, it represents an important first-step for many new players. That step is to think about your opponents as much as you do your own hand. The style of play Hellmuth recommends is to stick with the top-10 starting hands, and to play them aggressively. This is also solid advice for new players – who tend to play too many hands and so find themselves in tricky spots later on.
Phil Hellmuth has produced several more books, including a recent Autobiography. This shows a depth of character to the ‘Poker Brat’ that his TV antics and Twitter account does not show!
9. The Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen
You can get the fundamentals of poker math simply by understanding the various types of poker odds, outs and expectation. Digging into the numbers more deeply will give you a huge edge over the average player using the ‘rule of 2 and 4’ (for example).
Poker Math is the single most important book on this topic yet produced. It goes into a lot of detail on every street, and against every conceivable range of hands you could put your opponent on. There are details of how to work out your expectation for shoving all-in compared to making smaller bets. There is even a broader look at where you can find extra edges using math at a more detailed level than your opponents.
This book might not be as exciting as a ‘pure strategy’ book – though having a through grounding in the numbers will give you an extra edge every time you play (whether online or live). That alone gets it on the list of the must-read poker books.
Sit N Go Strategy by Colin Moshman
1-table tournaments are popular online, and the only major poker format not covered in our list of the best poker books. Colin Moshman is a legend in this format, crushing the games at the highest level. He produced a book to guide players at small stakes through the different stages of a Sit N Go.
This includes all the fundamental concepts, including ‘prize pool equity’ decisions which occur at the bubble. There are many hand examples, outlining concepts when the stacks are deep – as well as the late ‘all-in or fold’ stages.