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Poker Books

When it pertains to the cottage industries that have prospered from the recent poker boom, the one reaping the most from the game's wide-spread appeal is the book publishing business. Teenagers and twenty-somethings, who otherwise cringe at the concept of reading a book, now regularly digest new poker titles as much as they download pirated songs onto their iPods. Walk into any Borders or Barnes & Noble, and you will find just as many books about poker as you would for self-help or romance.

With so many titles and options available, here is a look at some of the most notable poker books on the market.

Doyle Brunson's Super System: A Course in Power Poker - A must-have for any poker player's bookshelf. This 1979 release remains the most influential and best selling poker title. After he first published Super System, the godfather of poker was criticized by many within the card community for his decision to essentially sell his inside secrets to the unknowing masses. The logic was everybody who read the book could then beat the pros at their own game and in essence water down skilled poker. Of course, that did not happen and instead helped generate generations of new players who kept poker alive until its recent rebirth.

Along with Edward Thorp's Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty-One, Super System is the most significant title in gambling/card related publishing.

Essentially, Brunson lays out the framework for success - play aggressive, utilize position and force opponents into making tough decisions by raising. The idea of consistently just calling bets is dismissed as poor strategy.

If you have never read Brunson's book, the first note on your agenda for tomorrow should be to run out to the bookstore and buy it because just about everybody who sits down at a table has already done likewise. 

Dan Harrington's Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play - The 1995 WSOP champ and 2003 and 2004 final table participant explains extensively his winning approach to Hold'em. The man with the Boston Red Sox hat details his method of playing tight but aggressive. He writes that players should not get involved with too many hands but when they do after the flop, they need to bet aggressively. He feels a tight persona helps with bluffing.

Not exactly beach-reading material but still a necessary companion for all poker players.

Mike Caro's Book of Tells - The mad scientist of poker's book is one of the best of the genre. His ideas and words are simple to read, and he uses plenty of pictures to illustrate how often players give away hands by using universal tells. His thesis is an important one to remember and to carry around: When a player acts weak, he is usually strong, and when a player acts strong, he is usually weak.

Ed Miller, David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth's Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play - A great way to receive an education on topics such as pot odds and suited connectors. The best aspect of this book is how it is written. It applies to players of all levels, not just the ones dreaming of a professional career. Small Stakes is a comprehensive overview of the game that resonates well for part-timers who most often play during home games and occasional trips to the casino.

Phil Gordon's Poker: The Real Deal - Nothing too heavy here, and the verse is very lean on hardcore strategy. What Gordon and fellow author Jonathan Grotenstein do provide is an entertaining overview of poker's history and the current culture of the game. Don't expect this book to be a treasure chest of winning secrets; look at it as a fun read about poker.


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