Which poker books are the “best”? How do we know what poker books we should be reading? Are the authors washed up and not providing current advice? These are all tough questions to answer, but I’ll take a swing :). One thing I can guarentee you is, if you type in “best poker books” on google you will fall right into the marketers trap. Unfortunately, the best marketed books don’t always have the best content. In fact, there has been an increasing movement among authors in this field to self publish due to the incredibly high royalty cuts that distributors websites take just to rank highest for “best poker books”. I talk extensively about this in my post on poker book sales.
The biggest mistake consumers make when trying to decide which book to buy is, they ask the wrong question, in the wrong place. For example, I see players who pop over to 2 plus 2 poker and ask what poker book should I buy? Then, I see responses that are frequently from people who are trying to drive the sales of their own books or they have friends who are helping them drive their books sales. Mason Malmuth explicitly prevents authors from directly plugging their own books, but that doesn’t stop lots of indirect plugs.
1) Does the author currently play in the games they are writing about?
I don’t mean to say that for an author to be relevant talking about mid-stakes poker they need to be currently playing in those games, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Many of today’s most well known authors about the game are effectively professional authors. Unfortunately, those authors may not be able to provide you the kind of in-depth analysis you need to compete against modern highly skilled players.
2) Is this a cutting edge book or decade old content?
In my opinion most poker literature lags behind the changes that are happening in real time at the tables. Unfortunately, for an aspiring player this means if you are trying to get better by reading a ton of books you will always be one step behind. Learning to innovate is the key!
2) Is the focus of the book on concepts or on examples?
Poker books that are heavily loaded with examples tend to become extremely dated quickly. Poker has changed so much in the past 5 years alone that it would make any examples prior to that mostly useless. Generally speaking the more a book focuses on concepts and ways of thinking about the game the better. As I mentioned above most poker literature tends to lag behind actual play. In Exploitive No Limit Holdem I focused on theory and didn’t include a tremendous number of examples. The examples are related directly to theoretical points.
Before picking a poker book its important to determine the goals of the purchase. One important question to ask is, what is your biggest strength/weakness as a poker player? This is a great question to ask prior to deciding what book to invest in. If your problems are mental, a poker strategy book might not help you – it would be better to buy a book focused on the mental game. If your redline is swooning then you may want to find a book that is focused on increasing your aggression in a calculated manner (this should include GTO and Exploitive suggestions). For players that are extremely creative and have a solid grasp of the fundamentals I would encourage them to focus on exploitive strategies. Here are a couple of other key points.
One other word of advice, nver pay more than a $100-$200 for a poker book. Frankly, most of the best books are in the $20-$60 price range. There are a couple notable examples of extremely overpriced poker books, but those are outside of the norm. These books were essentially marketing scams and not a good product for consumers. The reality is that you pay for what you get, up to a point. At some point paying more is simply throwing money away – in the poker book market that level is around $100. In fact, I don’t think you should be paying more than $60. However, I raised the number because if a good author came out with a solid book for $90 or $110, that might still be value.
Hope you guys are crushing it out there on the poker tables – today’s games remain a challenging place to make money. Best!
Do you know how to double barrel bluff? Knowing how to double barrel in poker is an important skill to have. Taking a one and done strategy will not work beyond low stakes games. Double barreling is also one of the best ways to improve your red line, which is an area many players struggle with. Given the amount of trouble people have with double barreling, I thought it was worthy of a blog post. Enjoy!
1) Your opponent is a giant calling station. Generally, it is safe to say these are not good players to double barrel – I can think of a few notable exceptions, which are players that like to call call and then fold rivers. Rule of thumb is don’t bluff the station!
2) High fold to flop c-bet number. If this number is over 50% I would be cautious about double barreling because your opponents range is quite nitty. This is especially the case if they start with a slightly lower than average VPIP (below 22%).
3) The hand started off as a multi-way pot. Most of the time when 4 players see the flop, if your opponent calls your flop bet their range will be quite strong.
4) The board is draw heavy (3 parts of straight or flush down) – this is especially true against players who will chase mediocre draws.
5) Your opponent is super sticky/aggro once money is in the pot. This / having a low fold to turn bet % is not an uncommon trait among the super aggressive young generation – my recommendation is to avoid turn equity spew by weighting your turn c-betting range a bit toward the stronger side.
1) Overcards peel off on the turn. Generally, overcards are good cards to continue betting on the turn. Ex. Flop is 10 7 4 rainbow and a K rolls off on the turn. Obviously, an A is even a better card for that – it works especially well against the player type that likes to “put you on high cards” and play low junk.
2) Your opponent has a low fold to cbet number but doesn’t seem to make it to showdown frequently. This suggests they either fold on the turn or on the river – both of those scenarios work well for us. In this case a double barrel bluff can be used to setup the “triple barrel”.
3) It will boost your red-line / non showdown winnings if done appropriately. Having a one and done c-betting strategy will get you nowhere against solid aggressive regulars.
4) When you have a strong amount of equity and there is little chance of being check raised. It sucks to be check raised when you are behind, but have a hand that might force you to call (due to pot odds and/or implied odds). Examples include flush draws + gutshot, overcard + flush draw, etc. If you knew that you would be check raised the solution is simply to check behind and realize your equity.
5) Your table image is loose. One of the common mistakes nits make is they play super nitty and then decide to try to pull off a double barrel. Unfortunately, because their opponent knew they were a nit by the time they call a PFR and a flop cbet their range is incredibly strong, and the double barrel fails. Try to double barrel when you think your opponents ranges are wider. Generally, when you have a more aggressive image at the table players will start to call your cbets lighter – that is the perfect time to start widening your double barrel range.
If you haven’t already be sure to check out my book Exploitive No Limit Hold’em. Hope the tables are treating you well, and let me know if you have any questions.