Long ago, you could only learn about poker through books, magazine articles, or a coach. While this has changed mainly due to improvement in technology, books remain invaluable tools for beginners to learn poker from. In this article, I’ll be recommending some of the best books that can help you sharpen your poker skills and take your game to the next level.
The best books for poker beginners are those written by poker professionals and experts. Only those who have mastered the game can pass on proper knowledge to new players. These books will give you an in-depth understanding of the game as well as teach you valuable strategies.
Let’s face it. Poker books are not held in the same regard as before. Years ago, books were the only method of learning the game. Now, a quick Google search will provide a lot of information for you about anything you want to learn about poker. But the truth is that poker books are important as ever. Yes, there’s a lot of information on the net including poker websites like this one. But books are important tools that will improve your game.
For one, the information in books is so well organized that they are one of the best sources of organized information you will encounter in the world of poker. And you get to get into the heads of some of the most successful poker players.
In a hurry? Here is the list of all the best books for beginners that I describe in more detail below:
|Top||The Course: Serious Hold 'Em Strategy For Smart Players||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Caro's Book of Poker Tells: The Psychology and Body Language of Poker||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Doyle Brunson's Super System 2: A Course in Power Poker||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Poker Workbook: Math & Preflop: Learn & Practice +EV Skills Between Sessions||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|The Theory of Poker: A Professional Poker Player Teaches You How To Think Like One||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|How to Study Poker Volume 2: A Proven Playbook For Increasing Your Poker Skills Through Dedicated Daily Study||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Master Micro Stakes Poker: Learn to Master 6-Max No Limit Hold'em Micro Stakes Cash Games||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Every Hand Revealed||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Essential Poker Math, Expanded Edition: Fundamental No-Limit Hold'em Mathematics You Need to Know||Prime||Check on Amazon|
Choosing The Best Poker Books
I embarked on the noble quest of selecting the most important poker books for beginners. Its important beginners have access to the right information so that their poker foundation can be strong, very strong. Before I start listing the books and what I like about them, I think it’s important I explain the criteria I used to compile my list of best poker books.
First of all, you should know that the books on the list aren’t necessarily my personal favorites. What is my favorite book may not be the same for you. It’s all about personal preference and judgment. Any book that you find very helpful will certainly be among your favorite books.
There are hundreds if not thousands of poker books out there, a lot of which you’ve never heard of. And the truth is that most of these books will be forgotten as time goes on. The best poker books are those that improve our knowledge and understanding of poker. And this is the type of book I focussed on. Some of the books on the list have had a significant impact on poker and changed the thinking of several poker players. Some books were so influential at the time they were written that players that read them had an advantage over others. Not reading those books means you are behind your peers.
I believe you find most of the books on this list useful and agree with my choices. Some of the books are popular, others not so much. Also, I made sure the books on this list are still relevant and useful to the modern poker player as a lot of books haven’t aged very well.
The Best Poker Books For Beginners
Without wasting time, let me dive into some of the best poker books for beginners.
If you a new poker player or a struggling player, then you’ll do well to check out this book. This book will be invaluable to those new to cash games. Beginner players are usually advised to start their poker journey with micro stakes. Micro Stakes are poker games that cost very little to buy into. For example, a $0.01/$0.02 No Limit Hold’em cash game. These types of games allow new players to master the game without breaking the bank. You can find this book on amazon by clicking the link above.
Now, there are some things you have to learn about micro stakes to increase your chances of winning and ultimately raise your game. This is where this book comes in. This book begins by exploring the reasons why people lose at poker.
Then, the author, a very successful micro stakes player, discusses important topics like the power of position, understanding equity, reasons to bet, and so on. After learning the fundamentals, you’ll come across juicy stuff like pre-flop strategies, essential poker math, and post-flop strategies for mastering the micro stakes.
The book is about 400 pages long divided into 30 chapters. The number of positive reviews about this book is evidence of the quality of the content it contains. The author runs a MicroGrinder Poker School and you’ll receive a free bonus of a 17.5 hour Crush Micro Stakes Poker course when you buy the book.
I must also mention the very affordable price of this book which is less than $20. And I have no doubt that you will find this book to be a bargain.
This book is the ultimate guide to poker tournaments for beginners.
The real allure of poker tournaments is the potential to win mouth-watering prizes. But do you have what it takes to outplay and outlast hundreds and sometimes thousands of players as you battle your way to the money? The answer is no for a poker beginner and that’s why you should check out this book.
The author of this book, Dan Harrington, is the winner of the 1995 WSOP Main Event. He also made back-to-back Main Event final tables in 2003 and 2004. So you are assured that you are getting advice from someone that truly understands poker tournaments. This book will teach you how to expert strategies that will help you consistently make deep runs in big-field Multi Table Tournaments. You also learn about different playing styles and how to adjust your strategy to your opponents.
I like the fact that the strategies in this book are easy to follow and you’ll be picking the most profitable spots in different situations in no time, and this will help you raise your game and take your tournament game to new heights.
This is a very recent poker book as it was released in 2020. It’s common knowledge that some of the best poker books were written a long time ago. I decided to check some of the most recent poker books and came across Poker Math & Preflop Workbook by James “Splitsuit” Sweeney. And I must say I was impressed with what I saw,
There is a mathematical side to poker, one you must understand if you want to truly master the game. This mathematical aspect of the game has always been a problem for beginners, especially those who are not good with numbers and mathematics in general.
This book will help you learn the underlying mathematics of poker, key formulas, and how to put all you’ve learned into practice. At the end of the day, you’ll find poker maths easy and even be able to automatically estimate the math during sessions. You don’t need to have an IQ of 195 or higher to understand poker maths.
Stuff like pot odds implied odds, and combos are usually foreign to beginner players. Well, not anymore after reading this book. I was also happy to see this book receiving positive reviews. It seems that many poker players are beginning to see the value of this book. The writing is clear and precise. Also, the step by step processes makes reading and assimilation faster.
This wonderful poker book is written by Doyle Brunson and other great players of the game. I’m talking about some of the brightest minds to ever play poker.
Let me give you a not-so-short introduction about the authors of this book. Brunson, who spearheads this book is a two-time World Series of Poker Champion and a nine-time WSOP gold bracelet winner. Other contributors include Daniel Negreanu, winner of multiple WSOP gold bracelets and 2004 Poker Player of the Year; Lyle Berman, three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner, founder of the World Poker Tour, and super-high stakes cash player; Bobby Baldwin, 1978 World Poker Champion and president of Bellagio, and so on. The authors of this book know their poker.
While this book was written years ago, it has aged well. You’ll find some of the best concepts in this book regardless of your current skill in poker. The authors focus on how to win in tournaments, something people new to the game need. Aside from the excellent strategies, you’ll be learning from this book, I really like the fact that Brunson included his real-life poker exploits in the book. It made the book more interesting and makes things less abstract for the reader.
Rumour has it that some poker greats were angry at the authors at the time this book was written as they revealed some well-guarded secrets of the game in their book. Featuring a whopping 600 pages, this book is one of the greatest poker books ever written, I also like the fact that this book aged well as it’s still relevant to the modern poker player.
This book is a bit old as it was written 10 years ago. Now, this book is very different from the rest on this list as it’s more of an entertaining read than an educating one. In this book, 2007 Aussie Millions winner, Gus Hansen, takes the readers through every single hand he played en route to his victory. Gus is widely regarded as one of the best players to have played the game having won multiple mega prizes in his career.
Some of the material in Gus’ book are outdated but a lot of concepts are still relevant today. You get to see the reasoning behind every single hand Gus played at the tournament, over 300+ hands. I think this book would have been more enjoyable if Gus had mentioned all the hands he folded preflop.
After reading this book, you’ll find out that Gus’s hands are unbelievably loose. He also has no respect for a position at the table and doesn’t fold his blinds either. Now, these are not qualities a poker player, especially a new one, should adopt. But you’ll find this book interesting if you love poker. It’s like watching Gus in a reality TV show expecting him to crash/fail at some point but soldiers forward instead. If you want to have an idea of what’s happening inside the head of a barking loon, read this book.
This is another book that helps new poker players get the hang of poker mathematics. I’ve seen new poker players get disheartened by the mathematical aspect of the game. Some have said to me, ‘I hate math, I was never good at it. How am I going to master the math aspect?’ But you see, no one was born with the knowledge of mathematics.
Another thing about poker math is that it’s not rocket science. You are going to understand it with the proper explanation and guidance. The author of this book used a very simple approach to explain concepts like pot odds, counting odds, equity, and so on. It’s all about making sure you have a good foundation in poker math.
You’ll be learning how to quickly estimate your equity on the table. Also, you’ll learn when to fold or call a drawing hand. A basic understanding of arithmetics – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division – is what you need and this book will sharpen your math skills. And poker math will stop being a problem for you.
I also like that this book has no number theory. It’s all about teaching beginners how to use math practice in the game of poker. No fancy or complicated stuff. Players intending to play online will also find this book very helpful as they’ll have a solid math foundation to help them make tough decisions in the limited time they have to act.
This book is without a doubt the most influential analysis of what it takes to become a winning player. I will even go as far as to say every new poker player should read this book. This book was written some 20 years ago and some of the poker material, such as hands examples, is a little dated. However, the concepts this book contains hold to this day.
The main reason why I’m recommending this book is that it opens your mind to exploitative and analytical play. You get to learn how to think like a poker professional. Even I reread this book every couple of years and I must say I still manage to learn something new after every reread. No kidding.
Sklansky’s book covers the fundamental concepts of different variants of poker like Texas Hold’em, Five Card Draw, and Razz. Apart from that, you also get to learn about bluffing, the value of positions, heads-up play, odds, and so on.
The information in this book is timeless and anyone aspiring to be a true expert in the game should have this book in his/her library.
Let’s face it, studying is not easy whether it’s poker, school work, or any other topic. The author of this book recognizes this and created a template that poker players can use to study and raise their game quickly. I like the subtitle of this book which reads “A Proven Playbook For Increasing Your Poker Skills Through Dedicated Daily Study” and that’s what this book is all about.
You can have the best poker materials but all will be for naught if you don’t study. I think the most difficult aspect of studying is getting started and taking that first step. Well, that’s going to be easier with this book as the author gives you a 28-day template comprising of all the content he studied – hand reading techniques, poker equity calculations, database reviews and filters, and so on.
I think this book is underrated and deserves more recognition as it has made studying easy for several poker players.
This list will not be complete if I don’t add a book about poker tells. Poker isn’t all about having the best hands and master strategies. It’s also about playing your opponents and you will need to know how to read their tells to accomplish that. Written by Mike Caro (you can check out the book on Amazon), a guy popularly referred to as the Mad Genius of Poker, this book teaches you how to correctly read your opponents’ body language.
While this book is over 20 years, the information it contains has aged well. A glance at the content of this book and you’ll find the information divided into four sections namely “Those who are Unaware”, “Tells from Actors,” “Some General Tells,” and “The Sound of Tells.” I like that Caro included pictures in this book to help readers understand better. The pictures could have been better but the book is very useful for beginners.
You can check out my article for the best books for poker tells to truly master the body tells in live games.
I like this book for its refreshing and different approach to poker. Unlike most books that tell you to focus on your opponents and try to figure out their game, The Course teaches you to focus on your game. Here, you’ll learn to ‘control the controllable’ and boost y7our chances of winning.
Miller got his motivation from golf where players are encouraged to not concentrate or other players or the scoreboard. Instead, they are taught to focus on their game and play the course. Miller’s approach seems a little strange and is even contradictory to the way most people play poker. Yet, there are valuable lessons to be learned from this book as it gives you a fresh outlook on poker.
Beginners should read this book as part of their poker education after getting familiar with some of the conventional fundamentals. Seeing poker from Miller’s perspective will do wonders for their poker IQ and help improve their game.
Experienced players can also benefit from this book. If you think your game is getting stale and you can’t seem to win again, The Course by Ed Miller is what you need. It has helped many players get back to winning ways.
You can’t control what your opponents do in poker. You can’t control what people do in real life. Focus on what you can do and see poker from a whole new perspective.
Best Free Poker Books
As you already know, the best things are the things you pay for. Many poker books are written by pros and experts and it’s only natural they monetize their knowledge. In the long run, you’ll find some books to be total bargains.
It’s hard to find quality free poker books but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’ve scoured the nook and cranny of the internet to bring you the very best free poker books. You are welcome by the way.
Polished Poker by John Anhalt
This is the best free poker book that I’ve seen. Anhalt takes you through the basics of poker starting from terminology to explaining everything about blinds. You’ll also learn about betting and bluffing. Another reason why I’m endorsing this book is because of the author. Anhalt has been playing poker for over a decade and is the original creator of Leak Buster, Ace Poker Drills, and PokerZion.com. Also, he has a very high win rate at multiple stake levels. And what’s more, he’s done poker interviews on radio, TV, written three poker ebooks, and so on.
This book is essentially a giveaway.
BlackRain79 – Micro Stakes Poker Strategy
Nathan “BlackRain79” Williams is a poker pro who has been playing the game for over a decade. He even has a website where he publishes poker articles. He’s very good at micro stakes having bagged a number of big winnings and he revealed his winning strategies in his book.
You’ll be learning what poker hands to play when to raise and bluff, poker math, and so on from this book. Seriously, you can’t ask for more from a poker book you aren’t paying a dime for.
Free Poker Guide – Crush The Zynga & Home Games by Rich
Rich is the owner of the HowToPlayPokerInfo website. His book on Zynga and home games will teach you the fundamentals of the game. You’ll learn the power of position, how to call, raise, reraise, and so on. There are also a number of poker strategies in this book.
Beginners will find this book very useful as it’s a good way to kickstart their poker education. I like that Rich ended his book by talking about common poker mistakes. Hopefully, you’ll learn from people’s experiences and take a step closer to becoming the poker player you’ve always dreamed of.
Poker Theory Versus Poker Practice
You could buy all the books I’ve recommended, read and reread them as many times as you can understand, and digest all the core concepts and theories in the books, However, this doesn’t mean you are going to crush your first poker game. And that’s totally fine.
Poker is a practical game and you need time to practice and implement all you’ve learned. Experience is very important in poker. Books just cannot prepare you enough for some situations in this beautiful game we all love and adore.
Let’s assume we have two poker players with a similar amount of experience. If one of them reads quality poker books, he’ll come back stronger to the tables due to the extra knowledge he gained.
You see, when the great poker books first came out, there were concerns among several pros that the skill of average players will significantly improve and come to rival their own. But this never happened. You know why? Reading books and having the right knowledge isn’t enough. It’s important for players to practice as expertise can only be acquired through experience.
The practice has always been a problem for beginners. Well, not anymore. The current crop of poker players shouldn’t have any problem with playing and practicing the game due to the invention of online poker.
Thanks to online poker, you can now play more hands in a month that poker pros of old played in their first few years of starting their career. You can also fast track your learning process by joining a training site. Check out my article for the best poker training sites (many of the videos on the training websites are free and come from the best coaches).