Live poker is different from online poker. This is a well-known fact. If you intend to be a live poker player, your poker education should be able to educate and prepare you for some aspects of the game unique to live poker. As a result, I’ve decided to compile a list of some of the best books for live poker.
There are a number of quality books for live poker with ‘Exploitative Play For Live Poker’ by Alexander Fitzgerald leading the pack. Generally, live poker books must cover unique situations you’ll encounter in live poker rooms.
Years ago, the only way you could learn poker and a lot of other topics of interest are through playing poker. This has changed due to advancements in technology and the invention of the internet. Now, you can find information about poker on websites, forums, and Youtube. Who has a need for books, right? So it would seem except the situation isn’t as you think.
Books are a great source of organized data. You should know this. A book usually starts with the most basic information, which is then built on later as more advanced topics are covered. I believe books are even more important to a live player. There aren’t a lot of material about live poker out there.
Yes, you’ll find lots of information about poker out there but not a lot prepare you for playing at the tables. You’ll have to enter a live poker room to know that it is a totally different dimension, a different plane of existence from the normal world you are familiar with.
So let’s take a look at the best books for live poker.
In a hurry? Here is the list of the poker books I talk about below:
|Playing The Player: Moving Beyond ABC Poker To Dominate Your Opponents||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Sit 'n Go Strategy||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Applications of No-Limit Hold em||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Top||Exploitative Play in Live Poker: How to Manipulate your Opponents into Making Mistakes||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Reading Poker Tells||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|The Theory of Poker: A Professional Poker Player Teaches You How To Think Like One||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|The Mental Game of Poker: Proven Strategies for Improving Tilt Control, Confidence, Motivation, Coping with Variance, and More||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Essential Poker Math: Fundamental No Limit Hold’em Mathematics You Need To Know||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time Volume I||Prime||Check on Amazon|
|Every Hand Revealed||Prime||Check on Amazon|
Choosing The Best Books For Live Poker
A lot of poker players, beginners, and some regulars alike have asked me about the best poker books for a live player, I’m asked this question so frequently that I decided to write an article about it so I can just refer anyone with the same question to this page. Before I start talking about different books and how they can benefit a live player, let me first explain the criteria I used to compile my list of best live poker books. I didn’t just choose a number of random books. I had my criteria before embarking on the noble quest of selecting the most important poker books for live players.
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.
Some of the books on this list are well-known by most of the poker world. Some are obscure texts that for some reason don’t enjoy a lot of popularity.
There are books on the list that will teach you strategies while some are geared towards improving your mental strength.
No matter what the book is about, I’ve read it and judged it capable of making you a more complete poker player before including it in this list.
I believe you find most of the books on this list useful and agree with my choices. So let’s take a look at the books.
This is perhaps the best book for live poker you’ll find out there. Online and live poker are not only different in gameplay but also in the behavior of the players. As a result, you must be able to adjust to the behavior of live players if you intend to play in a casino. This book will help you do that ultimately preventing you from losing a lot of money at the tables.
In this book, Fitzgerald teaches you how to manipulate other players at live poker tables and force them into making mistakes. After all, poker is also about playing other players. Apart from learning how to make your opponents make moves you want, Fitzgerald also covered effective counter-strategies. You will have an insight into how different players think about the game. And this will make you see poker from a completely different perspective.
This book will encourage and inspire you to think outside the box as a live poker player as become adept at putting others in a difficult spot and making them uncomfortable. I must also mention the various strategies you’ll find in this book. These strategies will ‘manipulate’ you to leave your comfort zone and play as you the way you can and should against your opponents.
You’ll become a very difficult player to bet against and the unusual tactic will leave your opponents scratching their heads in confusion.
You can’t ignore your opponent’s tells if you are playing live poker. In fact, seeing your opponents face to face and trying to figure out their tells is one of the joys of live poker. Some people play at the casino for this reason alone. As a live poker player, you can’t ignore tells and you need to learn how to accurately spot tells. This is where this book comes in.
Elwood’s Reading Poker Tells will help you learn and understand the behavior of other players at the tables. This will help lead to you accurately reading them. I’ve seen a couple of Elwood’s training videos and have also read some of the books and I can safely say the man knows his poker.
Another thing I like about this book is the simple and easy-to-understand approach the writer uses which readers will find very helpful given the complex nature of the topic. I’ve seen many poker books that lack proper structure and editing despite the great content they contain. This is not one of such books.
I appreciate the fact that the author distinguishes tells in different situations – for players waiting for action and when players are betting or checking. These two situations are totally different and have contrary tells. By the time you finish this book, you’ll be able to understand different behavioral and verbal tells. Check out my article on the best books for poker tells for further reading.
The Theory Of Poker – David Sklansky (A must-read classic for any poker player)
Written some 20 years ago, this book has stood the test of time and is regarded as of the best poker books ever written. All poker players, whether live or online, must read this book. You’ll not be finding cutting edge strategies. Instead, you’ll learn how to approach the game the right way.
This book is without a doubt one of the most influential analyses of what it takes to become a winning player. Sklansky covers essential topics like math for various situations, advice on reading hands (very important for live players), poker psychology, the explanation for different plays, and even a general approach to the game. All this will contribute to your growth as a poker player and ensure you go to the casino having more understanding of the game. ‘’
Sklansky’s also 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.
If your intention is to master Texas Hold’em, then this book is the guide you need. This book is a favorite of mine and has helped me improve my game. There aren’t a lot of poker books out there that will help you master Texas Hold’em strategy. I like that Janda focuses on how to play your entire ranges and not just the individual hands. Balancing your range may seem ridiculous to some players but is very helpful against players that don’t balance their ranges which is a lot of poker players/
This book is for advanced Texas Hold’em strategy and is suited for players who have some experience of the game. If you are brand new to poker or Texas Hold’em, you should save this book for later.
As a live poker player, you’ll benefit from the extremely in-depth analyses in this book which not only show you the right moves but also help you understand why they are right. Generally, concepts like betting and balancing your ranges for multiple bet sizing is very difficult to learn on your own.
The mental aspect of poker is usually neglected. Most players are usually focused on learning killer strategies and crushing everyone at the tables. But poker isn’t just about technical skills. The mental aspect is equally important. Of what use are your technical skills if you can’t apply them because of tilting, confusion, or lack of focus?
One of the primary reasons why most live players lose is tilting. And it’s not difficult to spot players on the tilt at the tables. Just look around. You’ll see them cursing, making violent bets, or simply stay quiet. They simply want to be left alone.
So, you cannot ignore the importance of poker psychology if you want to be a winning player. The author gives an in-depth explanation about tilting and offers step-to-step advice on how to deal with variance, control your emotions as well as tips for fixing tilting issues. I think you should try to read the book more than once. This way, you get to understand the concept better and will be in a better position to properly implement the advice.
I believe you can even apply the teachings of this book outside poker. If you really want to improve the mental aspect of your game and are willing to put in the effort, get this book.
There is a mathematical aspect of poker which is usually ignored as players fear that mathematics will be too complex, cumbersome, and maybe even too nerdy. But you need some understanding of poker math if you are going to be a live player. You can’t use any poker calculator software at the tables and it’s not every casino that allows you to use basic calculators.
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 teaches you how to adjust to different playing styles. You’ll be encountering players with different styles when you play live in a casino, and as such must be able to adapt your strategy as the game goes on. The thing is that many players understand the need for them to adjust their strategies at the tables but most do not know how to do this correctly. Reading this book will change that.
Miller starts out by explaining the concept of optional poker. He then teaches how to counter tight players as well as things to do when against loose aggressive opponents and weaker ones. I also like that Miller takes his time to explain how to play against the different types of players mentioned above pre-flop, post-flop, and also how to exploit their mistakes.
You’ll also learn something that will truly change your game and that is how to profile opponents. By being able to properly profile opponents, you’ll be able to figure out the type of players you are up against.
This list wouldn’t be complete if I don’t include a book about poker tournaments. In this book, Moshman provides an extensive guide about how to win one table tournaments, a topic that doesn’t have many resources.
If you’ll be hitting your local casino to play Sit ‘n’ Go, then you need to read this book. Moshaman also provides answers to strategy related questions and explains the concepts of Sit ‘n’ Gos before diving into topics like pot odds, equity, expected chi value, and so on.
I like that the author divided the strategy concepts into three for convenience – Low blind play, Mid blind play, and High blind play. You’ll also be learning how to adapt to different opponents, when to be aggressive and how to play various hands based on the changing environment.
There are also additional and useful resources like preflop probabilities, pot odds charts, shoving tables for various stack depth, and other statistics.
Not the most popular book on this list but is a good read for tournament players. Poker tournaments require a different approach from cash games and Lynch provides you with expert tips on how to be a winning tourney player.
Lynch has won a number of tourneys putting him in a position to give advice. This book contains strategies and all nuances associated with tourneys, especially the live version. The author also included several situations you’ll encounter at tourneys’ tables and also teaches you about bluffing and how to detect bluffs.
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.
This book gets you inside the head of a poker pro as he plays his way through a live poker tourney. It helps you see poker from a different perspective. I like that Hansen gives a clear understanding of underlying principles for his play.
Poker Books For Beginners
Essential Poker Math by Alton Hardin
There are a number of books on this list that people new to poker will find very useful. Books like The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky and Applications of No-Limit Hold ’em by Matthew Janda are also great reads for beginners.
However, I’m focusing on Essential Poker Math as the mathematical aspect of poker is usually neglected. As I pointed out in the review of this book above, poker math is easy. Also, you’ll find poker math very useful if you’ll be playing in a casino.
Read this book and the others and you will be on the path to becoming a poker expert.