9 Best Poker Books For Beginners – Based on Your Poker Knowledge

There are many types of poker beginners!

Some players know the poker rules, they played poker for a while and call themselves beginners. This is fine, but on the other hand, there are people who never played poker before, don’t know the game basics, and also are called beginners. That is also ok, but these two groups of players shouldn’t read the same poker books.


What is the best way to choose good poker books if you are a newbie?

You have to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Are you a real newbie? What experience do you already have?
  2. Which variation do you want to learn (cash games, tournaments, Holdem, Omaha, Stud games, etc.)?

To help you select the right book, I have divided the books into three categories:

Texas Holdem books for players with ZERO POKER KNOWLEDGE (you don't know the rules, hand rankings, etc.)

Poker: The Real Deal

8.3
8.2/10

Positives

Very easy to read
Interesting scenarios and anecdotes
Covers the basics in an easy to understand way
Majority of the book covering Texas hold em
Includes not only do's and don'ts, but also explanations why

Negatives

Not for advanced or intermediate players (obviously) 

It should be one of the first books you read if you are a beginner interested in becoming a profitable poker player!

The Real Deal is the second book by Phil Gordon in our ranking. However, he has written this one with Jonathan Greenstein, a successful author, ghost-writer, and professional poker player.

Phil and Jonathan do an outstanding job clarifying to the novice players how Texas Holdem is played.


What is included in ‘Poker: The Real Deal?

As the information on one of the first pages says:

“This is a book about the poker lifestyle. […] how the game works, the books worth reading, what to expect at a card-room, playing online, moving from low-limit to middle-limit to high-limit, entering and winning tournaments, and how to know you’re ready to turn pro.”

The Real Deal starts with poker history. Then the authors cover an extensive range of basic topics, including:

  • Overview of the elements of poker
  • Information on how to play the game, how to think like a poker player,
  • A short description of several fundamental poker strategies and when to use them
  • Basic calculations, pot odds, etc.
  • The types of gear you need to play (incl best types of cards and chips), 
  • How to host a home game, 
  • How professional tourneys work, the WSOP, etc. 
  • Phil’s journey from a new player to poker champion
  • It even includes information about poker room attire and the way to conduct yourself there,
  • It also has a extensive list of definitions,
  • Additionally, the authors included the best ideas from various known poker books (crediting the authors for their work).
  • And much more …

The wealth of information they included in The Real Deal is astonishing! 

One of the most exciting parts of the book is the reader’s theoretical run in the best tournament in the world, the World Series Of Poker.

It’s challenging to find some valid, negative points in that book. Maybe the only one is that this book is not for the intermediate or advanced player. But this is a ranking of the best books for beginners, not for pro players 🙂 


My Recommendation

Phil and Jonathan teach you how to be a better player by understanding poker rules, the poker game, and its lifestyle. The authors don’t go into an in-depth analysis of hand percentages, tells, etc. They give you a perfect, concise summary of poker.

As far as good beginner books are discussed, this is among the best books and a fun read.

Texas Hold 'em For Dummies

8.9
8.7/10

Positives

Free preview on Amazon
Well-written, organized, entertaining and informative
Easy to read and understand for novice players
Plenty of examples

Negatives

In the ebook edition, you could have problems displaying the illustrations. If that is the case, try tapping the illustration, then magnify it to full screen. If available, buy the paper version of the book rather than the ebook

If you’re a true hold’em beginner, you won’t go wrong getting this book. Texas Hold ’em For Dummies gives you a perfect framework for learning the basics. This book is for you if you know nothing about Hold ’em.


Who is the author and what’s included in Texas Hold ’em For Dummies?

The author, Mark The Red Harlan, was born in Rawlins and has a degree in applied mathematics. In Hold ’em For Dummies, he introduces you to Hold’ em’s rules, fundamental strategies, and concepts. Mark covers the betting, probabilities, math, etiquette, Hold ’em lingo, and teaches how not to make basic mistakes. 

There are plenty of examples and real-life anecdotes.

“Hold ’em is a game that is deceptively simple: There are four chances to bet (preflop, flop, turn, and river) and five ways you can act when you do (check, bet, call, raise, or fold). Yet within that simple mechanism, you’ll find truth and trickery, boredom and fear, skill and misfortune — in other words, direct reflections of the things that make life worth living.”

Mr. Harlan starts with an overview of Hold ’em and then moves into play mode. In addition to discussing the rules of the game, he talks about the importance of bankroll management and table position. From there, he moves into basic strategies, bluffing, body language, and trapping. The book also includes information about basic poker mathematics and game theory.


Learning poker can be fun

To top it all off, Harlan then gives an overview of where to play, whether online, live, or with friends. He also advises on what kind of food to eat during a poker tournament (no potato chips, which can grease up the cards!).

Harlan makes this complex game accessible and fun using simple language.

Hold ’em For Dummies is written in a friendly and funny style. Because poker slang can get confusing, an excellent glossary is included.

Harlan’s writing style is straightforward and to the point. He explains the game in a way that novice players can easily understand.

The book has a ton of visual examples. However, in the ebook edition you could have problems with displaying the illustrations. If that’s the case, try tapping the image, then magnify it to full screen. 

Overall it’s a must-read for beginners.

The Biggest Bluff

9.1
9.4/10

Positives

Entertaining
Free audiobook with Audible Membership in the US
Well-written
Poker tips from one of the best players on earth - Erik Seidel (however limited)
Poker vs. life psychological insights
Linking the scientific psychology literature into poker

Negatives

x Not enough strategy
x Some parts are overwritten

The Biggest Bluff  will not teach you how to play Texas Hold ’em poker, it’s not a strategy book, but it is a great introduction to the poker world because a novice player has written it.

Join the author, who becomes a sponsor pro player in less than two years from a complete beginner. I have written a full review of The Biggest Bluff here:

 


The Biggest Bluff How I Learned to Pay Attention Master Myself and Win by Maria Konnikova – Book Review

Texas Holdem books for players with some BASIC KNOWLEDGE (you know the rules and have played for some time).

Essential Poker Math, Expanded Edition: Fundamental No-Limit Hold 'em Mathematics You Need To Know

9.0
9.4/10

Positives

Easy to comprehend, well structured
Free Audiobook with Audible Membership in the US
Real-life examples
Free e-book with a Kindle Unlimited membership in the US
Affordable ebook - $5.45
Free Enrollment into eLearning Online Course – you have to email Alton with the proof of purchase

Negatives

x Repetitive
x The large typeface may be difficult to read

Knowing math is fundamental in poker. That’s why I included Essential Poker Math in this beginning player’s ranking. It is the best book on poker math. It has all the fundamentals of poker that you must know. 

I have written an in-depth review of Essential Poker Math here (you will have to go to the bottom of the post to view it):

 

7 Best Books About Poker Math, Odds and Probabilities

 

Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No-Limit Texas Hold 'em.

9.1
9.4/10

Positives

Easy to read, not too dry or academic in its approach
Free Audiobook with Audible Membership in the US
More for no limit hold em tournament players than for cash game players (could also be a negative)
Nice anecdotes
Free Preview on Amazon
Well-written

Negatives

x Some links in the book no longer exist
x Too much Full Tilt Poker advertisement

A player has written it for other players! This book will teach you how an expert poker player makes decisions logically.

Phil Gordon is a known poker teacher and player with two WPT championships and seven final table appearances at the WSOP. He is the co-host of Celebrity Poker Showdown.

In Little Green Book book he gives an excellent introduction to fundamental Texas hold’em strategy for players who are already aware of basic concepts such as odds, position, etc.

Gordon explains how he plays the game, and he notes that this is not the only way to play. 

I value Gordon’s approach and honesty:

“I’m not the world’s best player. But I make a living playing poker. This is how I do it.”


What can you learn from it?

The book gives short (1 – 3 pages) advice on a topic and moves on. As a beginner player, if you think of any questions you could ask a professional player, it has probably been covered in this book:

 “With what hand and when to go all-in before the flop?”

 “How to play once I get a straight?”

 “What if I make a continuation bet and get called?”

Advice on a good poker play doesn’t get much easier than this, and best of all, the advice the author offers could be particularly effective against the average online and home-game players you’re likely to face as a novice poker player.


My Recommendation

The  Little Green Book is never overly dry or academic in its approach. Your eyes will never get tired of reading it. 

On the negative side, some links mentioned in the book no longer exist 

Also, the post-flop part of the book focuses mainly on the heads-up play.  

Nevertheless, this is an excellent book if you are at the very beginning of your poker career. 

There’s a lot of content, and it’s good if you can re-read the most essential concepts that are difficult to grasp.

I also recommend listening to the author’s poker training on YouTube.


“In our minds, this book is an instant classic and a must-have for any serious student of the game. Everyone who reads it will come away a better player.” 

 — Howard Lederer and Annie Duke

 “Phil Gordon is one of poker’s premier players and has few peers as a teacher of No-Limit Hold ’em. I would hate to have to compete with anyone who accesses the information in these pages.” 

 — Erik Seidel

Master Micro Stakes Poker by Alton Hardin

9.2
9.4/10

Positives

Written in clear, logical terms that take you step by step through the processes.   
Free audiobook with Audible Membership in the US
Free ebook with KindleUnlimited subscription 
Specific for No-Limit Hold 'em Small Stakes Cash Games
Includes hand examples to practice your understanding
Easy to read and follow. As of December 2020, free access to Alton's online course Crush Micro Stakes Poker, if you provide proof of purchase for this book 

Negatives

Mainly focusing on 6-Max No-Limit Hold 'em, although many concepts can apply to other games

It is an excellent book if you are a starting player. It will teach you the fundamental concepts of winning Mikro Stakes, which is the level you should play as a novice player,

Alton Hardin is a known poker trainer. You can find his high-quality, detailed courses on Microgrinder. He is a fantastic instructor, especially for new players, and the pricing is affordable.


What is included in Master Micro Stakes Poker?

The book contains of seven sections that cover various subjects, including:

  • The power of position.
  • Reasons to bet.
  • Understanding equity and expected value.
  • Basic game plan and study strategies for beating the micro stakes, introduction to HUD stats and basic player types.
  • Preflop strategies.
  • Essential maths.
  • Post-flop strategies for mastering the micro stakes.

Hardin does an excellent job explaining the pros and cons of various strategies, including in great length the strategy of playing tight and aggressive.


Who is Master Micro Stakes Poker for?

This book is intended for the 6Max online cash games. However, nearly all of the information applies also to the full ring tables. 


What can you learn from it?

Master Micro Stakes Poker will teach you an organized approach to the game without putting you in too many scary spots.

The book is written in clear, logical terms that take you step by step through the processes.

And one more important thing, as of December 2020, you get free access to Alton’s online course Crush Micro Stakes if you provide proof of purchase for this book.

Books for novice players who want to learn OTHER POKER VARIATIONS (Omaha, Seven Card Stud Eight or better, High-low split, etc.).

The Theory of Poker: A Professional Poker Player Teaches You How to Think Like One

9.0
9/10

Positives

It teaches you how to think. You must know why rather than what to play
Free audiobook with Audible Membership in the US
tremendous amount of information for new players who want to take their game to the next level
Discusses many forms of poker, which include Texas Hold 'em, Razz, Seven Card Stud, five-card Draw, Lowball
Well organized
Provides a glossary in the back

Negatives

x Too many tactics connected at once (in one example) can be confusing
x The book is not light reading and probably should not be your first book. No Omaha mentioned

It is an excellent book if you are a starting player. It will teach you the fundamental concepts of winning Mikro Stakes, which is the level you should play as a novice player,

Alton Hardin is a known poker trainer. You can find his high-quality, detailed courses on Microgrinder. He is a fantastic instructor, especially for new players, and the pricing is affordable.


What is included in Master Micro Stakes Poker?

The book contains of seven sections that cover various subjects, including:

  • The power of position.
  • Reasons to bet.
  • Understanding equity and expected value.
  • Basic game plan and study strategies for beating the micro stakes, introduction to HUD stats and basic player types.
  • Preflop strategies.
  • Essential maths.
  • Post-flop strategies for mastering the micro stakes.

Hardin does an excellent job explaining the pros and cons of various strategies, including in great length the strategy of playing tight and aggressive.


Who is Master Micro Stakes Poker for?

This book is intended for the 6Max online cash games. However, nearly all of the information applies also to the full ring tables. 

3 Best Poker Books For Online And Live Cash Games


What can you learn from it?

Master Micro Stakes Poker will teach you an organized approach to the game without putting you in too many scary spots.

The book is written in clear, logical terms that take you step by step through the processes.

And one more important thing, as of December 2020, you get free access to Alton’s online course Crush Micro Stakes if you provide proof of purchase for this book.

The Theory of Poker has stood time. Although not a recent book, much of the information is timeless.

David Sklansky is one of the best gambling experts in the world today. He has written multiple books and invented several games. 

According to Sklansky’s Theory of Poker, the game is one of mistakes – the point is to induce mistakes in your opponents’ play while avoiding mistakes in play yourself.

Mistakes are simple to define. If you knew all the hands, you would play your hand in a mathematically correct way. Sklansky teaches different methods of inducing those mistakes in others and accurately analyzing your hand.


What is The Theory of Poker about?

This book is about the Fundamental Theory of Poker, it examines:

  • bluffing, 
  • deception, 
  • slow-play, 
  • the value of the position, 
  • psychology, 
  • game theory, 
  • implied odds, 
  • semi-bluffing, and more.

One of the most critical lessons from this book is that playing by the rules isn’t the correct play to maximize long-term gain. 

‘Sklansky talks about many forms of poker, including:

  • Holdem
  • 7 Stud, 
  • 5-card Draw, 
  • Razz, 
  • Lowball etc. 

This is not a guide on a how-to-play all these forms of poker. With so many poker variations discussed, it might not be evident at first. However, The Theory of Poker is meant to review principles constructed into all the games.

And this kind of knowledge is essential if you want to become a good poker player and build greater awareness of what’s going on at a poker table. 


Should you read it?

Maybe this book will feel too much for you because of the specific poker language used, strategies discussed, etc. But if you want to be a winning player, “The Theory of Poker is THE BOOK that you must have on your bookshelf.

You have to focus and work out the nuances that David illustrates.

Nevertheless, if you have never played before, get another book from the first section of this post.

Poker For Dummies

8.9
8.9/10

Positives

The book is an easy read
Free Audiobook with Audible Membership in the US
Well-written, Informative
Only for poker beginners
It offers a small section on video poker
Like in all "Dummies" books, fun sidebars are included about awesome games, players, etc.

Negatives

x Outdated in some parts

If you’ve never played poker before and you don’t even know what a straight is, then this Superb novice tool guide is for you.


What is included in Poker For Dummies ?

Poker For Dummies includes chapters on the most popular games (Texas Hold’Em, Seven Stud, Seven Stud/8, Omaha/8). It covers the following basic topics and more:

  • Antes
  • Betting structure
  • Odds
  • A small section on video poker
  • Setting up a home game
  • Hand rankings, rules for the variations of the game
  • Objects of the game
  • Internet and video poker
  • Sayings and slang
  • Ways to read your opponent’s body language
  • Tournament poker
  • Money management
  • Bluffing

Keep in mind that this book shouldn’t be the only title in your library. Because it doesn’t cover any of the above topics thoroughly (nor does it intend to).

If you are a newbie to the world of poker, looking for an easy-to-understand introductory text to various poker games, read this book!


Is Poker For Dummies outdated?

Some parts of the book, especially technology, can be outdated. 

However, when it comes to the poker basics (rules of poker, hand rankings, odds calculation, anty, etc.), it doesn’t matter how old the book is, as the rules and other fundamentals remain the same.

When it comes to poker strategy, the publication date has more relevance because it constantly evolves. 


Is this book for you?

I can’t recommend this book to any intermediate players unless they want to refresh their knowledge. If you understand the game and have some experience, you’re probably pretty safe to move onto a more advanced title. 

Hoyle's Modern Encyclopedia of Card Games: Rules of All the Basic Games and Popular Variations

8.7
8.6/10

Positives

A massive number of games and variations,
Not only poker games included
Very informative
Includes a brief history of card games

Negatives

Navigating to a specific game on an ebook is problematic; you need to scroll a lot.

This is a perfect reference book with all sorts of card games. It includes the rules of poker games and any other card game you can imagine.

 

According to Hoyle contains full descriptions and explanations of rules and approaches for each game and its variations. The games are arranged in alphabetical order and include illustrations of hands.

 

It even contains information on how to shuffle the cards:

“The opening procedure in most card games is the shuffling or mixing of the pack. This may be done in various ways. One is to divide the pack and bend the ends of each section upward, with each thumb, then release them gradually so that they interweave as they fall. This is called the “riffle” or “dovetail” shuffle. The sections are then pushed together, the pack is squared divided, and the process is repeated. Less spectacular, but equally effective is the “overhand shuffle” in which the right-hand holds the pack lengthwise, with the fingers at the outer end, the thumb at the inner. The left thumb then pulls away clusters of cards from the top of the face-down pack, letting them fall on those already drawn away until the shuffle is completed.”

If you are looking for a comprehensive listing of card games with clear and concise rules, this book is for you.

If possible, get a hard copy because navigating to a specific game on an ebook is problematic; you need to scroll a lot.

 

How long does it take to learn poker?

Learning the rules can take you only a few hours. However, if you want to learn advanced poker strategies and become a winning player, it can take you a few years, assuming you will be playing and studying a minimum of 40 hours a week. You would have to treat poker like your job.

Are there any poker books for beginners I haven't mentioned?

If yes, then please let me know in the comments below.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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