Even with the massive online poker popularity boom and the wealth of learning resources available to players online, most great players still learn and refine their game by reading books – and some of the greatest players are still writing them.
While some of the older poker books may seem a bit outdated, they still have tons to offer to improve your game and reveal important insights that can make you a better player, even if you only play poker online.
To save you time on combing through the mountains of books on poker strategy, mathematics and psychology, we’ve compiled a shortlist of some of the best poker books of all time (in no particular order.) Whether you’re an absolute beginner, semi-pro or just enjoy playing online poker, you’re bound to find that one of these reads can shed new light on the game. It takes a lifetime to master poker, so you’re always encouraged to keep on reading and refining your poker table skills.
Doyle Brunson’s Super System by Doyle Brunson
It’s tough to think of a more legendary poker player than Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, but it’s even harder to find a poker pro who hasn’t read and recommended his “Super System.” Knowing what an incredible player Brunson was, a few poker greats were quite upset when he publicly revealed the secrets of their poker success.
While a bit outdated by today’s standards, this book still holds a wealth of valuable knowledge, strategies for winning play and some narrative chapters in which Brunson recalls his early days on the poker circuit, which makes for some of the most entertaining reading for any poker fan. Super System was decades ahead of its time when published in the late 1970s and was the first to include contributions from some of the greatest players on the circuit in Brunson’s era.
The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky
If you’re a beginner looking to get straight into some concise, actionable information that you can put into practice right away, then look no further than The Theory of Poker. Most serious poker players and theorists regard David Sklansky’s masterwork as the strategic dictionary of poker. Contained within the 276 pages is a lifetime of well-researched strategic poker basics and concepts that will undoubtedly improve your play at the table (real or virtual.) This advanced poker book is a more-challenging read than most casual players might enjoy, but for anyone serious about poker and taking their game to the next level, this book stands out as one of the must-reads. Beginners will also benefit from the wisdom imparted across the 25 chapters of the book as Sklansky teaches you how to think about the game instead of what to think.
Kill Everyone by Lee Nelson, Tysen Streib, Steven Heston, Joe Hachem and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
In 2007, the poker world was blown away by the release of Kill Everyone: Advanced Strategies for No-Limit Hold ‘Em Poker Tournaments and Sit-n-Gos. This book aimed to marry poker mathematics with real-life experiences to create a strategy for dealing with recurring themes and scenarios that players are likely to find in their games. It’s divided into sections, with Lee Nelson offering sage tactical advice and Tysen Streib focusing on math’s influence in a professional poker player’s decision-making process. Popular online gamer ElkY’s annotations appear throughout the book. While the book contains a good mix of both tactics and math, the marriage of the concepts might not be so obvious initially.
Kill Everyone takes you from poker basics, such as strategic thinking and decision-making, all the way to tactics and math for heads-up play at final-table-level stakes. This ensures you’ll have a well-rounded knowledge of the game at all stages of play. Each author’s contribution has immense value in its own right, though they aren’t always well integrated with each other. But if you’re looking for ways to exploit the game’s current trends, then this is the book for you.
Ace on the River by Barry Greenstein
Not everyone wants to read a strategy guide or get deep into the math of poker, so let’s take a break from the textbooks and find out more about other areas of the game with Barry Greenstein’s Ace on the River. This book is a fresh look at the game of poker through the eyes of a professional player. Players can learn a lot by reliving Greenstein’s experiences as he worked and played his way to becoming one of the greats.
Readers who aren’t serious poker players will also gain a lot from Ace on the River, as Greenstein takes the conversation far beyond the tables and discusses aspects of poker that exist away from it. There are still some fundamentals and basic math to get through, but he does a great job keeping it light. If you’re looking for some poker life skills and a fresh perspective of the game away from the table, then Greenstein’s book on poker is one for your collection.
The Raiser’s Edge by Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
As one of the most gifted strategic players in poker, any book written by Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier should be taken seriously and will undoubtedly teach you a thing or two beyond the obligatory list of poker hands. Published under the full title, The Raiser’s Edge: Tournament Poker Strategies for Today’s Aggressive Game, this guide covers pretty much everything you need to know to keep your game up to date and compete in tournaments.
This book is definitely for more serious poker players looking to go pro and start taking part in some bigger buy-in tournaments, hoping to make a name for themselves. The math section is particularly deep, requiring a fair amount of existing knowledge for it to make sense. If you’re looking to improve your tournament play, better manage your stack size and know the precise moment at which to three- or four-bet, then this is the best poker strategy book for you.
Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker by Jonathan Little
In this book, you can learn how to win poker tournaments. Jonathan Little is a highly-successful poker professional who won more than $4 million in just over four years of playing in poker tournaments. This book teaches you how to deal with the fundamentals of play and how to handle varying stack sizes. If you’re gearing up to play online poker tournaments, you are sure to learn some valuable strategies in Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker.
Getting Started in Hold’em by Ed Miller
This is the ideal book for those looking to play Texas Hold’em. This beginner’s guide will teach you the fundamental building blocks of the most popular poker variants. Here you’ll get to know more about things like preflop hand valuation, domination, betting for value and more. It’s basically the principles that expert players use, which is sure to give you an advantage over other new players. Now you can learn how to play poker from an expert and improve your game tremendously.
The Myth of Poker Talent by Alexander Fitzgerald
The Myth of Poker Talent is one of the best new poker books on the market. It’s the culmination of professional poker player and poker trainer, Alexander Fitzgerald’s work with over 1,000 professional-playing students over a 10-year period. Fitzgerald made over $3,5 million in tournament earnings around the world, final tabling European Poker Tournaments, multiple World Championship of Online Poker tournaments, Fundamental Theorem of Poker events and other online poker tournaments. He went on to publish an extensive library of training videos, webinars and articles. In this book, he speaks to the attitude and perspective of a winning poker player. As one of the world’s most relevant tournament coaches, Fitzgerald shares indispensable knowledge on a variety of poker tools.
Put your knowledge to the test at BetMGM
Now that you’ve started a brand-new collection of poker books and are studying your way to the top of your game, why not give your newfound skills a try at BetMGM? Download the app and register with us to take a seat at any of our virtual tables to play a wide range of poker variants. Or, if you’re confident in your abilities, why not participate in one of our online poker tournaments?