How To Play Poker

Discover the Poker Classics: Ten Must-Reads for Every Player

Doyle Brunson Super System poker book

Published: June 17, 2024
Written by Global Poker

Shuffle through the pages of poker greatness: dive into these must-read poker classics and up your game with timeless tips and tricks!

Hundreds of poker books have been written over the years offering tips and strategies from seasoned players and experts alike. In the vast world of poker literature, only a handful of books have achieved legendary status, becoming essential reads for players of all levels. While online resources abound, these classics stem from trusted voices with decades of poker experience. Delve into our curated gems of timeless wisdom.

1. Doyle Brunson's Super System: A Course in Power Poker  

Release Date: 1978 

Book Summary: One of the best known poker books ever published and one of the first with strategies for specific poker variants. Many of this book's poker concepts and ideas had never appeared in written form before Doyle Brunson's Super System. In addition, several notable poker pros like Mike Caro and Chip Reese contributed to the writing. Some of the ideas in this book are considered outdated by modern standards, but Doyle Brunson's Super System still has enough good information to help build up a solid foundation of poker skills and is a classic well worth reading. 

Author: Doyle Brunson 

Short Author Bio: A former poker pro with over 50 years of experience playing in every type of venue imaginable, from dingy card rooms to top of the line casinos. Brunson won two World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Events, was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, and had the distinct achievement of winning two WSOP main events in a row with his now infamous 10, 2 hand.

2. Harrington on Hold 'em Series 

Release Date: Volume 1: Strategic Play (2004), Volume 2: The Endgame (2005), Volume 3: The Workbook (2006)

Book Summary: A trilogy of novels. Volume 1 features advice on playing styles, starting hands, pot odds and hand analysis. Volume 2 features strategies for poker tournaments and how to change play styles, depending on the size of your chip stack compared to the blinds. Volume 3 features examples for readers to apply concepts learned from the first two volumes in the series. While the books are not overly suited for beginners, (these go well beyond the realms of basic poker), Harrington's on Hold 'em Series features some of the best poker strategies around. 

Author: Dan Harrington

Short Author Bio: A professional poker player best known for winning the 1995 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event.  Harrington has also won a World Poker Tour (WPT) title and is a member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

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

Release Date: First edition 1987

Book Summary: A book focusing on bluffing, psychology, odds, semi-bluffing, optimum bluffing, the importance of position and many more crucial poker concepts. Multiple editions have been published over the years. The Theory of Poker focusses more on the mathematical side of poker but is still well worth reading to get another perspective on the complex and ever changing game. 

Author: David Sklansky

Short Author Bio: A mathematician and professional poker player with three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets and total live tournaments winnings exceeding $1.4 million. Sklansky is considered an expert in mathematical strategy used in games of chance and has contributed content and written many books on the subject.

4. Doyle Brunson's Super System 2

Release Date: 2005 

Book Summary: The first Super System focused on Hold 'em while Super System 2 has sections written by experts covering different poker variants such as seven card stud and Omaha 8 or better. Pros like Daniel Negreanu and Jonny Chan are among this editions star studded list of contributors. 

Author: Doyle Brunson — the same legend we mentioned earlier!

5. The Body Language of Poker: Mike Caro's Book of Tells

Release Date: 1984

Book Summary: The Body Language of Poker offers tips on interpreting tells, shrugs, sighs, shaky hands and much more. The book also has over 170 photos of players in action, showcasing examples of tells. While the book is a bit dated by today's standards, it still has invaluable information about tells that make it well worth a look. 

Author: Mike Caro

Short Author Bio: Mike Caro is a renowned figure in the world of poker, celebrated for his expertise as a player, strategist, and innovator. He co-developed the Poker Probe, one of the earliest software tools for poker analysis, and founded the Mike Caro University of Poker Gaming and Life Strategy, a prominent institution dedicated to poker education. His contributions to the game extend beyond theory, shaping how players approach strategy and psychological tactics at the table.

6. Applications of No-Limit Hold em 

Release Date: 2013

Book Summary: A theory based book, Applications of No-Limit Hold em covers subjects like over betting, balancing multiple bet-sizing ranges, donk betting and check raising. The ideas in the book are meant to be presented simply, so everybody can understand them; however, it might take a bit of prior poker knowledge to fully appreciate the intricacies of the proposed concepts.  

Author: Matthew Janda

Short Author Bio: Matt Janda is a game theory expert but he has been interested in card games his entire life, starting with playing poker in high school, which then evolved into online cash games in college. Janda cites poker as more of a hobby for him but he is still one of the best poker experts around.

7. Kill Everyone: Advanced Strategies for No-Limit Hold 'em Poker Tournaments and Sit-N-Go's

Release Date: 2007

Book Summary: An excellent book for tournament players that details the importance of well-timed aggression and how it can completely transform your game. Other highlights in the book include poker math and other concepts and strategies for multi-table tournaments, sit `n' goes and satellites. Lee Nelon is listed as the main author, but Tysen Streib and several other poker experts contributed to the book as well. The second edition has added hand illustrations, full-color charts and commentary by online player ElkY.

Authors: Lee Nelson, Tysen Streib

Short Author Bio: Lee Nelson, a former doctor turned professional poker player, is a founding member of the Australian Poker Hall of Fame. He is well-known for winning the 2006 Aussie Millions and several other significant titles, including two events at the 2005 Crown Australian Poker Championship and the Victoria Championship Main Event. Famous for his Hawaiian shirt at final tables, Nelson continues to play poker while running a wellness retreat in New Zealand.

Tysen Streib has been playing poker since 1998 and specializes in the mathematical aspects of tournament structures, game theory and optimal plays. He has no disclosed championship wins or listed live poker earnings of note.

8. Every Hand Revealed

Release Date: 2008 

Book Summary: An extensive analysis of the more than 300 hands Gus Hansen played to reach the final table and win the 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event. He explains his thought process behind each move, every bluff, calculation and educated guess, providing insight into how readers can learn to call large bets with seemingly unplayable hands and how prize structure should influence plays.

Author: Gus Hansen

Short Author Bio: Gus Hansen, known as "The Madman" for his fearless and aggressive style, has achieved remarkable success in poker. He has won three World Poker Tour (WPT) open titles, a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, and the 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event. In 2024, he joined Team Winamax, marking a return to the competitive poker scene. With over $10 million in live tournament earnings, Hansen continues to be a respected and influential figure in the poker community.

9.Master Micro Stakes Poker: Learn to Master 6-Max No Limit Hold'em Micro Stakes Cash Games

Release Date: 2011 

Book Summary: Covers everything required to play micro stakes cash games, from setting up a HUD and playing against limpers to studying poker and player profiling. 

Author: Alton Hardin

Short Author Bio: An author and poker coach, Alton Hardin has several poker books to his publishing credits and is the founder of MicroGrinder Poker School.

10. The Mental Game of Poker: Proven Strategies for Improving Tilt Control, Confidence, Motivation, Coping with Variance, and More

Release Date: 2017 

Book Summary: Features tips and instructions on handling tilt and downswings while achieving a good balance between poker and other aspects of life. Throughout the book there are step-by-step instructions and techniques for handling variance, emotional control, confidence, fear and motivation. 

Author: Jared Tendler with Barry Carter 

Short Author Bio: Jared Tendler holds a master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Northeastern University and began his career as a licensed mental health counselor. He later transitioned to become a renowned mental game coach, initially working with golfers on the PGA and LPGA tours before focusing exclusively on poker. Tendler has coached hundreds of professional poker players, helping them master the psychological aspects of the game and optimize their performance. His expertise in tilt control, confidence building, and coping with variance has made him a sought-after authority in the poker community.

Whether you're a novice seeking to master the fundamentals or a seasoned pro honing your edge, these timeless classics offer a wealth of knowledge to elevate your poker prowess.