Poker is not an easy game, and those who want to stay ahead of the curve need every bit of help they can get.
Books are one of the best sources of organised information you can find on the subject of poker, and one of the best ways to improve as a poker player.
Unfortunately, some books are not as applicable in today’s games; whereas some books are gold mines which will skyrocket your game, despite their age.
We will only list books which are relevant and useful to you in today’s games, not give a giant list of every poker book ever wrote, as most are not as useful as they once were.
So here is my list of the best poker books for beginners to pros you can get your hands on in 2017 (organised by amazon rating):
Note: If you are just starting out with poker I would thoroughly recommend Crushing the Microstakes by Nathan Williams as your first port of call. You can go straight to that section by clicking here.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em by Jonathan Little (5/5)
- 2 Essential Poker Math by Alton Hardin (5/5)
- 3 Unfolding Poker by James “Splitsuit” Sweeney (5/5)
- 4 Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Cash Games by Jonathan Little (5/5)
- 5 Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler (4.5/5)
- 6 Applications of No-Limit Hold ’em by Matthew Janda (4.5/5)
- 7 Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen (4.5/5)
- 8 Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em by Ed Miller (4.5/5)
- 9 Elements of Poker by Tommy Angelo (4.5/5)
- 10 Mental Game of Poker 2 by Jared Tendler (4/5)
- 11 Crushing Low Stakes Poker by Mike Turner (4/5)
- 12 Crushing The Microstakes by Nathan Williams
- 13 Your Best Poker Books?
Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em by Jonathan Little (5/5)
How would you like to read the insights and tips from 17 of the top poker pros across the globe all in the one book?
This is what Jonathan Little has put together in this book and as a result, he created one of the best poker books in the last 10 years.
You must be a competent poker player before diving into this one. This book won’t go into the basics and jumps head first into more advanced topics.
Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em will make you rethink some of the ideas and strategies you have had ingrained for years (that have been costing you money).
Touted as the new supersystem of the poker world, it has lived up to its hype.
Here is a positive amazon review:
Excellent book, probably the most up to date and in-depth book wrote since the Harrington on hold’em series.
A very detailed book in every way and a must for any poker player taking poker seriously and wanting to make money at poker.
Mainly aimed at tournament play and on-line poker but easily transferable with top contributors from the world of poker…excellent.
And a negative review (the only review less than 4 stars I could find on amazon):
It is a comprehensive book there are various authors who have given their valuable insights however for an amateur it is a difficult to get all the concepts preferred if the book was limited to 3-5 main points to focus on rather than hundreds
So to repeat, if you are a beginner, I would not recommend this book (for now, anyway).
But for everyone else, it’s a must buy!
You can pick up Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em here.
Essential Poker Math by Alton Hardin (5/5)
Sick of all that complicated math? Just tell me what I need to know you say?
Well, this is the book for you.
The most important poker math is distilled down to easily understandable and digestible nuggets which will get you thinking on the right track.
There is a lot of math which can be applied to poker, but not all of that is practical.
So do yourself a favour and get this book!
Here is an amazon review:
This is everything you need to know to use math PRACTICALLY when playing good poker. There is no number theory here, there are other books if you want that. But if you want the essential math foundations for your game when making tough 20 or 30-second decisions playing online, then this is the book. If you believe poker is a numbers game, at least as much as a psychological one [and it is], then get this book.
I could not find a review below four stars for this book on amazon. Recommended for everyone, amateur or pro.
You can pick up Essential Poker Math here.
Here is a video explaining Essential Poker Math in more detail:
Unfolding Poker by James “Splitsuit” Sweeney (5/5)
This FAQ styled book has only just been released by Splitsuit. If you are yet to come across Splitsuit, you should know he is an expert poker coach who has released tons of content over the years which you can check out on his website Splitsuit.com. His content greatly helped me out in my early days so I couldn’t recommend his work enough.
Splitsuit wrote this book in front of a live audience on Skype where questions were expertly selected and answered with input from a live audience.
The questions answered include, “Making Money in tight games”, “When do I hold or fold over pairs”, “How to use my table image” and “Hand reading in fishy games” plus loads extra.
If your not sold yet, here is a positive amazon review:
If you’ve followed any of SplitSuit’s podcasts or posts, you know what you’re getting from this book. His straight forward style with no fluff, all substance is great for improving your game. Between the ebook, audio book and paperback versions, he’s got you covered for however you like to consume your media. I like listening to the audio book while reading the actual book to really get his strategies to sink in.
There are no negative reviews as of yet 🙂
You can pick up Unfolding Poker here.
Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Cash Games by Jonathan Little (5/5)
Excellent poker book rated 5/5 on amazon for its in-depth cash game poker strategy.
Jonathan little started out small with only a $50 online bankroll. But he has since amassed over $6.4 million dollars in tournament winnings over his career.
Discover the pitfalls and mistakes along with winning strategies that allow you to target your weaker foe.
Find out how to stop blaming bad luck and learn the real secret to dominating No Limit Hold’em games.
Just finished reading Jonathan Little newest book: “Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Cash Games,” and it’s going to be a huge seller, so congratulations on two accomplishments this month. Happy Birthday and continued successes with your outstanding books. (A must get everyone).
Some of my clients have asked what I liked the best about the book: I loved the “postflop skills discussion,” the reminder everyone needs about “blocker hands,” and especially how to extract more value from certain type players on the river. Johnathan answers the questions you have on your mind playing the 1/2 NL stakes and the kindle version (e-book version), is only 77 pages of pure poker content and sound advice to convince you to “observe,” “execute” and “profit,” even at the Small Stakes Cash Games. (My recommendation to all that follow me, read my national reviews, and listen to me in my You Tube videos (Al Spath Channel), BUY this book and read it more than once, there is so much useful information it would be a crime if you don’t purchase it to allow your game to blossom!
And a negative one:
The book is not worth the hype. Strategies are all pointing to one answer – “IT DEPENDS”!
I would not buy something to get an answer – IT DEPENDS.
The author may be a great tournament player but have fairly limited low stack cash game IQ and experience
Unfortunately, I don’t think the reviewer is going to find poker books giving them the answers they are trying to find.
The truth is each decision in poker does depend on a myriad of factors. But what good poker books teach is how to think at each decision point, not when ‘x’ do ‘y’. Not even a computer has enough memory for all the different xs and ys.
If you’re looking for definitive answers for how to play poker, don’t buy this poker book (or any poker book for that matter).
If you’re looking to improve your game you could do no worse than getting this book.
Pick it up here: Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Cash Games
This was one of these books that were absolutely vital to my poker development.
So often, players will just work on their technical skills on the poker table and as a result are susceptible to tilting, motivation issues and lack of focus.
The psychology of poker is equally important as your technical skills – if you cannot apply your technical skills due to tilt, motivation, etc. what’s the point?
You can remove the ‘low hanging fruit’ so to speak by putting in the work on your mental game that the other regs aren’t doing.
By working on your mental game you are ensuring you play your best more often and hence your winrate will improve in the long run.
Read the Two plus two poker review of Mental Game of Poker for more info.
Positive amazon review:
This book is absolutely crucial and should be read by any player moving on from the Beginner stage. Jared’s view on tilt and other mental game issues is pretty much novel amongst poker writers but more to the point it’s far more on the money and will actually help you cure tilt as opposed to just suppressing it.
This is one of the best poker books I’ve read and heartily recommend it to everyone.
Have issues with dealing with regs on the table? You will find the answer in this book.
Have issues with spewing off buy-ins over and over? Don’t worry there are steps in this book to reduce the likelihood of this happening.
You can even apply the skills you learn from this book to outside of poker. Jared started out life as a golf coach after all.
When you think about all the money you could have saved over the years you will kick yourself. Improve your game now by reading the mental game of poker.
And a critical review:
It’s like one long intro.
For me, it highlights why things are the way they are but never actually goes into depth on how to solve them.
Excellent at highlighting problems but telling you to then think about stuff is a bit pointless in my opinion.
In my opinion, the negative reviewer didn’t put enough time into working through the quizzes and questions posed by Jared. These are the only way you will improve your mental game. Reading alone won’t help.
Unless you really want to improve your game and are willing to put in the work, I wouldn’t buy this book.
If on the other hand, you are ready to pick up an edge on all the other lazy regs out there you can pick up the Mental Game of Poker here.
Another book which really helped me improve. This book actually changed the way I think about the game completely.
I read this book at least 5 times and have gone back to test, change and test again the ranges and examples Matthew gives in the book.
This book is written for advanced players so if you are brand new to the game I wouldn’t recommend you dive into this one just yet. Bookmark and come back to it later.
Matthew discusses the important subject of how to ‘balance your range’ which might seem useless to some.
But the benefit is knowing how to balance a range is knowing how to attack someone who doesn’t have a balanced range (99% of all other players).
So this teaches you how to best target and exploit other opponents which is what poker is all about.
I refer to this book as my poker bible and plan to read it again soon as a refresher. Unfortunately, my paperback has seen a bit too much reading:
For anyone who has any aspirations of moving up to small stakes and above, make sure you check this book out.
“I’ve read over 20 books on poker over the years. I’ve been quite impressed with the quality of poker books recently, compared to several years ago.
This book would be in my top two favourite and most useful poker books, with the other one being Will Tipton’s “Expert Heads Up No-Limit Holdem”.
His discussion on how to reason balancing has been vital to me. Also, I’ve found a major leak in my game when playing out-of-position. I’m generally a very aggressive player and almost always prefer betting out monster hands instead of trapping since it grows the pot. I think a common rookie mistake is to get too sneaky-trappy, resulting in smaller pots than monster hands deserve. In general, my choice of aggression vs. trappy has worked out to my advantage.”
And a negative one:
The book should one of the first pages clearly state that the approach is an approximation and the results should not be used.
As a theoretical book, it is very poorly written. If it was sold as a non-theoretical book I would give it 2 stars.
The top poker players make lots of approximations in every single hand. How would they know how many hands an opponent may be holding, or what they will do with their hands? They use past experience to APPROXIMATE what they will do.
Approximations aren’t perfect, and the better your approximations, the more money you will make.
So, if you are a reasonably experienced poker player, do yourself a favour and improve your approximations by reading this book 🙂
You can pick up Applications of NLHE here.
Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen (4.5/5)
This is very enjoyable and entertaining read all around. Find out how Gus played every single hand when he won the 2007 Aussie Millions out of a field of 747 players.
Although, some of the poker material from may be outdated a lot of the concepts he uses are still vital for beating the games today.
Even, so if you just want an entertaining read about poker or gambling, this is the book for you.
Gus is one of the best live players to have played the games, having made multiple mega cashes over his career.
Find out how the poker pros think and see how he played every single hand in the tournament. Not only his best hands.
A poker book like this has never been written before.
The hands he discussed aren’t just glossed over. Each one has a detailed narrative which allows you to understand his thought process when making a decision.
Easy to follow and doesn’t require you slog through complex equations or math. What’s not to like?
And a review from amazon:
“This was a really enjoyable read for me. Gus goes through the 300+ hands that he played in winning some big tournament in Australia and explains his thinking hand by hand. A shame that he didn’t mention all the hands he folded preflop – including these would have given a better picture of Gus’ play, even if it would have made the book more boring in places
But I’d better tell you why I liked the book before I go any further. It reminded me a bit of reality television. I felt like I was sitting there watching Gus from behind the safety of a TV screen and waiting for the car crash to happen. It was also a bit like listening to Dark Side of the Moon in that it gave me a picture of what goes on inside the head of a barking loon
You see, Gus is a very different player to those that have read through Harrington, Moshman, Gordon et al. His starting requirements for betting are unbelievably loose, he has no respect for position at the table, he spits in the face of Sklansky’s Gap Concept, he never folds his blinds,… Need I go on?
This is definitely more a book to read for entertainment than one to learn from, unless
– you need a bit more aggression in your game, or
– you’re planning on playing tournaments with big stacks, long blind levels and high antes relative to blinds, or
– you’re Andrew “Gutshot” Chow from Bristol, in which case Gus Hansen is relatively sane and might be able to help tighten your game.”
And a not so positive review:
I’ve read a few poker books. This one is very boring, I made it through 1/3rd of the book its just boring. Every hand revealed is it, a lot of the same reading page after page in my opinion not a good poker book.
I can’t fathom how you can find this book boring unless you aren’t into poker. It is the complete opposite of boring.
But for the rest of us, I would recommend this book to anyone, beginner or pro.
You can pick Every Hand Revealed here.
Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em by Ed Miller (4.5/5)
Excellent book by Ed Miller who is a renowned poker author. Everything you need to know to beat the small stakes no limits cash games are contained in this book. It has been described as the ultimate poker handbook.
This book uses real world hand examples to help translate high-level poker theory into easily understandable strategies that you can apply to your poker game.
It has been described as the ultimate poker handbook.
This book uses real world hand examples to help translate high-level poker theory into easily understandable strategies that you can apply to your poker game.
Find out the 7 easy steps to No Limit Holdem success, how to deal with aggressive players, and how to maximally exploit the weaker players.
Here is a review from amazon:
This was my first and favourite poker strategy book. An absolute goldmine of information and ideas. I’ve been a recreational player for about 5 years and found something to highlight on pretty much every page I turned. Excellent informative insight, well written and easy to understand. only 6.25 on kindle as well…. it really is a no-brainer.
And a 3 star negative review:
Will probably hurt your live game rather than help it. They postulate that if you can win at six handed online, you can crush live games. Bad hypothesis. The statistics are all different for live 10 handed play. They devote a chapter to stealing binds that would be reckless if tried in a cash ten handed game. And their barreling advice is also reckless in a cash game.
Competent players will realise that if you play 6max there will be some adjustments when playing fullring live games. However, the skills learned in 6max will be directly applied to fullring live games.
The author isn’t suggesting you apply everything no matter what game type. That point seems to be missed with this review.
I would recommend this book for intermediate to advanced players.
You can pick up Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em here.
Elements of Poker by Tommy Angelo (4.5/5)
Even at 10 years old, this book has rafts of relevant tidbits which will help you improve your game. Although poker strategy evolves, the mind set, habits of playing solid poker have not.
A total of 144 elements of poker, each of which can add the pieces of your poker game puzzle together and get your playing better poker.
“Bliscipline,” is a term coined by Angelo: a combination of bliss and discipline: “when you are at the table and you are so totally in control of yourself and so totally at peace in the situation that no matter what happens next, you’ll still have plenty of resolve in reserve.”
‘Bliscipline’ describes exactly what reading and applying this book will bring to your game. One of my favourite poker books.
This book is unlike any other poker book you’ll read. It is not about a particular game or how to play certain cards. It is mostly about limiting your time in what Tommy calls your “C-game”. I know a guy who says, “I don’t need to read any more poker books; I already know how to play better than I do.” Elements of Poker was written with this guy in mind.
Tommy Angelo gives you credit for having a winning A-game. His point is that every minute you spend playing your C-game is costing you a tonne compared to spending that minute in your A-game. I certainly know that if I played my A-game 100% of the time, I would be a substantially better player. Tommy’s book has helped me get closer to 100% A-game; I suspect it can do that for most people.
Look, serious poker players don’t talk about Elements of Poker much because, well, they’d just as soon play against your C-game than against your A-game. But I promise you that the best serious players have this book and review it often, particularly when things aren’t going well.
Read Elements of Poker and watch your C-game diminish from your life. It never leaves completely, unfortunately, but Tommy Angelo can help you keep it mostly behind you.
And a more critical review:
This book is a little dated but does contain a lot of practical poker/life skills that are useful. His take on table and seat selection is important a bit more in depth than most other material.
I wouldn’t expect any in-depth strategic information from this book, it contains more of the more subtle skills and ideas required to be a winning player.
I had been playing poker for a couple of years when I read this and found it very useful.
Recommended for the beginner to intermediate and you can pick it up here: Elements of Poker.
Tommy Angelo discussed some of the concepts from the book in the video below:
Jared’s second book follows along the same lines as his first but goes into some of the other mental game issues – most importantly playing in the zone.
If you can implement the tips in these books, you will take your mental game to the next level, no matter how good you think your mental game is today. I can guarantee that.
I don’t post reviews for books often but I had to do that for this book. it has been the best poker book I’ve read in the last several years. I play poker semi-professionally and this book gave me insights that can truly take my game to the next level. if you are playing poker and have been stuck at the same level for a while or want to read a book that can help you dramatically improve your game then this is the book for you
Before reading this book, I would recommend the MGOP 1, but it is not required.
Pick up the Mental Game of Poker 2 here.
Crushing Low Stakes Poker by Mike Turner (4/5)
One of the series of three books in the series by Mike Turner clearly detailing how to play Sit ‘n Gos aimed specifically at low stakes.
Not a book for the complete beginner as it is assumed that you know some basic maths and such as pot odds, implied odds and position.
Even if you aren’t a Sit ‘n Go player this book cans till help you out as a proportion of the material will be directly transferable to cash games and tournaments.
Here is an amazon review:
I’ve played poker for a long time socially and have always enjoyed watching it on TV but I’ve never really been the type of player that plays above the basic level of thinking i.e. “what is my hand?”.
It amazes that so many of the world’s top players make the final tables time and time again so I decided to invest a little bit of money and open a new account to play online.
Mike Turner breaks down the skill set required to play in lower stakes ($10-$12) Sit n Go tournaments and offers some really insightful information and points us toward some really useful tools that we can use to our advantage. He also introduced the concept of ICM during tournaments to me (I’d never heard of it before).
A lot of the hints and tips in here were a revelation to me, and I now find myself better informed to read other players at the table and finishing in the money more often than not. I am now making plays based on the pot odds being offered to me weighed up against the chances my hand is good.
My only gripe, and its only slight, so it doesn’t impact on my rating, is that at times this book feels like a sign posting bible, pointing you here and there for more information (usually at a cost of subscription).
And a 3 star review:
The strategies charts and maths within will give new players a very decent, succinct and easy to follow basic how to which is what the book offers and delivers for a small price. The small price does mean an understandable and expected lack of content. 3 rather than 4 stars purely for the reason that with a little bit more effort everything within can be found with a couple of Google searches.
This book is mostly for players starting out with Sit ‘n Gos. The primary benefit of a book is that the material is organised in a linear manner which makes learning so much easier.
While google searching is free, you can miss out on some important information and it can be sometimes difficult to find a reliable source.
If you are a more advanced player I wouldn’t recommend this book for you.
You can pick up Crushing Low Stakes Poker here.
Nathan Williams, the all-time biggest microstakes winner, wrote a step-by-step guide which shows how to crush the 2nl and 5nl games.
Unfortunately, it is not available on amazon, so no amazon review. But my rating is 5/5!
Even years later, this book still provides a done for you strategy which explains how you can follow in the footsteps the biggest winner at the micros.
If you are only just starting out as a poker player, I truly think this is one of the best investments you can make.
Here is the Two Plus Two poker thread on the book and a review from a WSOP bracelet winner:
You can pick it up the ebook over at Nathan’s ‘Blackrain79’ blog here: Crushing the Microstakes.
Your Best Poker Books?
So there we are, the best poker books 2017 has given you a list of some of the most influential books to date.
Read up and let us know what you think!
Are there any poker books I have left out? Or do you disagree?
Let us know below.
Good luck at the tables!