The ONLY Poker Books Worth Reading

Modern Poker Theory by Michael Acevedo

I genuinely cannot say enough good things about this book. It is a culmination of the best parts of every poker book I’ve ever read and it’s backed by rigorous research in PioSolver. The author has experienced significant success on the tournament circuit both live and online and has a background as a financial analyst and mathematician.

  • Fundamental game theory concepts
  • How to classify ranges as condensed, polarized, capped/uncapped based on various situations
  • The relationship between range polarization and bet size
  • How to classify various hands into equity buckets and build a strategy for all your holdings
  • How to analyze complex data and outputs from solvers in order to execute GTO lines

Applications of No Limit Hold’em by Matthew Janda

Applications of No-limit Holdem is considered a classic and is an essential read for anyone seeking to become a competent player. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have read this book early on in my poker journey. It is worth noting that while this book has aged extraordinarily well, there are a few aspects of it that are outdated.

  1. Preflop Ranges: The original preflop ranges in this book were constructed based on frequencies and manual calculations. In the age of solvers, you are better off using ranges constructed from sims.
  2. Hand Reviews Chapter: I would recommend skipping the hand reviews chapter at the end of the book since modern solvers have revealed flaws in Matthew’s range construction.

Expert Heads Up No Limit Hold’em by Will Tipton

Will Tipton has become sort of a cult icon in the Poker Theory community. He was the very first person to create a weighted flop subset representation of the game and even released a package of video tutorials with his book that walk through analyzing toy games in Gambit. Many concepts in the book were completely foreign to most players in the community back in 2012. Additionally, Tipton brings the advantage of his background in theoretical computer science which allows him to rigorously formalize his ideas.

  • Thinking of expected value in terms of the overall game tree
  • Proper definition of maximally exploitative strategies
  • How iterative exploitation leads to nash equilibria
  • How turn and river runouts influence equity distributions
  • Range distributions on various board structures

Expert Heads Up No Limit Hold’em Volume 2 by Will Tipton

Expert heads up No Limit Hold’em is slightly more practical than the first book as it applies his earlier ideas to multi-street situations. This is a welcome contrast to the first volume which focuses primarily on preflop play and turn/river scenarios. The book brings more nebulous concepts down to earth. As a Computer Scientist, I enjoyed this book simply for its mathematical elegance however, I still believe the concepts will hold value for many players. The book also comes with a video pack where Tipton walks you through building your own poker game tree solver in Python!

No Limit Hold’em For Advanced Players: Emphasis on Tough Games by Matthew Janda

Out of all the books on GTO poker, this is likely the most practical. Matthew walks through an array of common spots in the game and explains reasonable lines to take based on analysis in Poker Snowie and PioSolver. This book is good for developing overall heuristics for executing GTO strategies at the table. I do not however, think the heuristics are so detailed or advanced that they will necessarily prepare you to beat tough games. That being said, the value in this book is that it is a much easier read than the others and is good for getting your feet wet in GTO.

The Grinder’s Manual by Peter Clarke

This book is not a theoretically focused book but rather a very pragmatic book on heuristics for executing somewhat solid lines at the table. The strength of this book is that it’s focused on 6-max cash games and includes some very useful models and approaches for determining which spots are good to C-bet and how to think through ranges. Additionally the book does a good job of explaining the advantages of being in position.

Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman

Out of all the books on this list, you would be better of reading this last. It’s not that the book itself isn’t brilliant, but rather that the math in the book is so difficult and complex for anyone without a few semesters of university math behind them that it isn’t worth reading for most players. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommended it to many of my friends. Many of them reported not being able to make it through the first few chapters. If you have taken Calculus, Probability and Statistics and perhaps a Game Theory course, you’ll get through the book just fine.

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