In part 2 of our examination of the best poker books around, Paul Phua Poker looks at the new school classics – books that reflect the ever-fluctuating strategies of the modern game.
How do we define ‘new school’? For us, a new era of poker began in the mid-to-late noughties, when a wave of young players – largely schooled on the internet – burst onto the scene, epitomised by the likes of Tom Dwan and Phil Galfond.
Previously, “internet player” had been a derogatory term, used by experienced live pros to disparage the mass of amateurs who had descended on the WSOP in 2004, hoping to emulate Chris Moneymaker’s extraordinary feat a year before.
But soon ‘internet players’ were redefining the game and the way it was played, with a new hyper-aggressive style, honed by the hundreds of thousands of hands they experienced while multi-tabling online. Meanwhile, there was a sudden new willingness to share and discuss new ideas, as well as an explosion of internet training sites, which meant there had never been so much information and open discussion about poker strategy freely available. The game had been changed forever and older pros who failed to adapt were left behind.
Moorman’s Book of Poker (2014)
by Chris Moorman and Byron Jacobs
Here’s an opportunity to dip into some high-level strategic thinking from an online tournament legend. With more than $14 million in earnings from online tournaments, and an astonishing 26 online Triple Crowns, Chris Moorman is the best internet tournament player there has ever been, bar none.
Moorman’s Book of Poker analyses and critiques 80 online tournament hand histories, played by co-author Byron Jacobs. It’s a unique approach to strategy writing. Jacobs is a mere mortal with, like us, leaks in his game, which are systematically plugged by the online legend over the course of the book – and we all learn a lot in the process.
The Mental Game of Poker, 2011
by Jared Tendler
Jared Tendler is mental health counsellor and performance coach, who tutored professional golfers on the psychological aspect of their game before he turned his attention to poker. The Mental Game of Poker is all about the metagame, providing techniques to help poker players play at their best, while offering advice on how to deal with the swings of variance and retain emotional control on and off the tables. Banish tilt and learn to motivate yourself to perform at your best with poker’s very own ‘self-help’ book.
Gus Hansen – Every Hand Revealed (2008)
by Gus Hansen
On January 21, 2007, Gus Hansen won the Aussie Millions main event. Not only did he win it, picking up $1.5 million in the process, he did so while furiously scribbling notes after every single hand, much to the bemusement of his competitors.
The result is Every Hand Revealed, a fascinating dissection of a major tournament, by the winner, in ‘real time.’ The stars aligned perfectly to bring us this book and we will probably never see anything like it again. Hansen is entertaining and insightful as he guides us through the tournament – all five days and 329 hands of it. It’s a unique glimpse into the logical reasoning of a player who has been dubbed “the Madman” for his seemingly wild and eccentric plays.
Excelling at No Limit Hold’em (2015)
by Jonathan Little
Two-time WPT winner and blogger extraordinaire Jonathan Little travels the international tournament circuit where he spends a lot of time discussing poker with some of the game’s finest players and thinkers.
If Super/System is a snapshot of how poker’s most influential people thought about the game in the late seventies, Excelling at No Limit Hold’em is the voice of 2015 generation, with contributions from many of Little’s fellow discussants. These include the likes of Oliver Busquet, who delivers a master class on heads-up play; Alex Fitzgerald, on analysing ranges; Jared Tendler, on tilt control, and a chapter on tells from Zach Elwood.
There’s a strong range of subjects covered here and a real breadth of opinion here. Even Chris Moneymaker gets a look in, offering his advice on how to win low buy-in tournaments.
Reading Poker Tells (2012)
by Zachary Elwood
Zachary Elwood took the baton from Mike Caro and ran with it. Elwood truly believes that everything a poker player does at the table means something – right down to “every movement, every spoken word, every little twitch,” we just have to figure out what, exactly. Thankfully, Elwood has some pretty robust ideas on the subject and he proceeds to decode a host of universal tells – and some less common ones – in a rigorously scientific way.
The book is packed full of practical examples and draws on a wealth of serious academic research on unconscious non-verbal communication. If you’re an online player who needs to sharpen up the psychological aspect of your live game, this could be the most important book you’ll ever read.
Don’t miss part 1 of this 2 part blog. Head over to part 1 on top poker strategy book from the old school.