Once in the minority, books covering tournament play have certainly made some serious inroads in the shelf-space battle being waged in the poker section of your nearby Barnes and Noble or Borders. While there is usually potential value in any reasonable text on poker, buying all of the available titles isn’t necessarily within the bankroll (in terms of money or time) of most players. With that in mind, here’s the quick list of the five poker books we’d suggest, along with a quick thought or two about where you’ll find the the value in each. From least to most essential:
5) Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen: It’s an interesting concept, albeit one very familiar to subscribers of PokerXfactor and the like – review an entire tournament, hand by hand. If for nothing else, this book is a good read simply because it’s the only real example of a wire-to-wire sweating of a live tournament you’ll find. Additional bonus is the insight into Gus’ style and how it impacts the attitudes of his opponents, as well as insight into his psycho-emotional approach to the game.
4) Elements of Poker by Tommy Angelo: While it’s not built specifically with tournaments in mind, this book is still a must-read for the way it identifies and articulates some of the deep meta-concepts of poker. It’s brief, pretty entertaining, and can have an instant impact on your game. Whenever a book can get you exited about playing again, that alone makes it worth the price tag.
3) Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time Volume I by Eric ‘Rizen’ Lynch, Jon ‘Pearljammer’ Turner, and Jon ‘Apestyles’ Van Fleet: A book that’s along the same lines as Gus’s, in a sense – this text is made up entirely of analysis of individual hands by one author (or, in the last section of the book all three authors). That format makes it insanely readable, and the insights from three solid online winners are a great way to get a feel for how the typical online field plays and why. It’s also a nice mix of styles, offering you a view into the TAG game of Pearljammer, the aggressive game of Apestyles, and the in between approach of Rizen.
2) The Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman: Again, this isn’t a book with the word ‘tournament’ in the title, but that’s besides the point. The book is all about solving poker, and due to the freezeout nature and predictable prize structure of tournaments, they’re a form of poker uniquely more suited to being solved than cash games. The book is dense at times, but the fast structure of online poker tournaments has forced tournament poker to evolve into a sophisticated preflop game and if you’re serious about understanding that game, it’s worth wading through.
1) Harrington on Hold’em Volumes 1-3 by Dan Harrington: These books are widely regarded as the foundation of modern tournament poker, and with good reason. Harrington does a great job of breaking the game down by stack size, addresses critical and common table dynamics, and illustrating it all with clear, relevant examples. It’s our opinion that you simply cannot find a better tournament text, and it’s one of those rare books that serves players of just about all levels. Volume one covers the fundamentals, volume two gets into some of the more advanced concepts, and volume three is more of a workbook that serves as a companion to the first two volumes.