We review and rank the top 10 strategy books ever written on how to play poker
Harrington on Hold ‘Em Volumes 1 and 2 Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie (16.95 each)
|Calculate pot odds. Without knowing them you can’t make an educated guess as to the wisdom of shoving your chips into a pot. Dan Harrington|
Every clued-up professional we’ve talked to has put this recently published pair of books at or near the top of their list. Dan Harrington is the most articulate of the group of players who started out at the Mayfair Club in New York and have since found fame and fortune playing the world’s greatest game. His guide to playing tournament Hold’em is easily the best that money can buy and is essential reading if you’re serious about taking your game to the next level. Volume I takes you up to the final table with advice and examples on the early stages of a tourney, while the sequel shows you what to do when you get there, including an in-depth look at heads-up play. Not cheap, but should be seen as an investment.
SUPER SYSTEM 2 Doyle Brunson £19.95
The original was the most inflential book ever written on the game and the updated version of the poker Bible is even better, with a whole section about online play. There are contributions from experts such as Jennifer Harman on limit games, Todd Brunson on Stud 8-or-Better and Lyle Berman on pot-limit Omaha, but you’re buying it for Brunson’s crash course in aggression. Not for the new or casual player, but a ‘must’ for the serious amateur or fledgling professional. Why? Because it’s bloody hard to plough through but is ultimately very rewarding, both intellectually and fi nancially. Rather than focusing on your game it tries to teach you how your opponents are thinking and how they will play their hands. The thinking man’s guide to winning Hold’em.
TOURNAMENT POKER FOR ADVANCED PLAYERS David Sklansky £19.95
Until Harrington came along, this went unchallenged as the best book on the subject of tournament strategy. And it’s still the simplest. Sklansky illustrates his advice with large diagrams so there’s no need to be put off by the rather intimidating ‘Advanced’ tag in the title. There’s also a load of useful quiz summaries at the end to make sure you’ve been paying attention.
POKER FOR DUMMIES Lou Krieger and Richard Harroch £14.99
As the title suggests, this isn’t going after the same audience as Sklansky, but if you’re a newbie it’s an entertaining and genuinely helpful introduction. The illustrations and quizzes keep you focused on essentials and it’s nicely peppered with anecdotes. If there’s one criticism it’s that it tries to be too comprehensive, giving games other than Hold’em too much space.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR POT-LIMIT OMAHA? Stewart Reuben £12.99
A rarity in that it’s a decent strategy book written by a British author. Reuben concentrates on the game that strikes fear into the hearts of novice Hold’em players, providing solid advice for the potlimit crew. Written in questionand- answer form, it’s not for Omaha virgins. If that’s you, you’ll be better off sticking to the companion book, How good is your Pot-Limit Hold’em?
PHIL HELLMUTH’S TEXAS HOLD’EM Phil Hellmuth Jr $6.99
The cheapest book in the top ten but still a very handy guide to the style of play favoured by the infamous poker brat. Pitched at newcomers, it features some amusing ways of identifying your opponents. Look for The Mouse (highly selective, rarely raising), Lion (tough and tight), Jackal (loose and wild), Elephant (a ‘calling station’, feeding the other players) and Eagle (Phil and pals).
52 TIPS FOR TEXAS HOLD’EM POKER Barry Shulman and Mark Gregorich £12.95
52 Tips… started life as a spreadsheet of helpful hints for Mrs Shulman, who demanded specifi c how-tos, not ‘it depends’. The result is a treasury of advice divided into sections headed Universal Concepts, Before and On the Flop, Turn and River. Try reading and committing one tip a week to memory and in a year you’ll be a poker genius. Or your money back. Well, maybe not…
CARO’S BOOK OF POKER TELLS Mike Caro £16.95
Via description and photographs of 80 poker tip-offs, Caro explores whether your opponents are ‘telling the truth’ with their bets. It purports to show when they’re bluffi ng, with a theme of, ‘If your opponent seems strong he is really weak and if he seems weak he is really strong.’ Trouble is, most tells involve movement and still photos can’t convey this, but it should increase your awareness.