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The Numbers Behind the Most Influential Poker Books

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What were the most popular types of books? Who were the most popular types of authors? What were the bibles? And who on earth managed to find their way onto the New York Times Bestseller List?

Where are Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman when you need them?

It’s number crunching time.

56 judges from the world of professional poker voted for the most influential poker books of all time. Each judge could vote for a maximum of 10 different books. The point system handed 10 points to the most influential book, 9 to the second most influential, 8 to the third, and so forth with the final book receiving 1 point. Not every judge voted for 10 different books. Some only voted for only one.

The Book Type Rankings

The 56 judges considered 28 different books to be worthy of their #1 vote. Here is the breakdown of the book types:

Of the 28 books credited with a #1 vote, only 7 of them had been written in the past 5 years.

The most popular books by type were as follows:

Hold’em strategy - Harrington on Hold ’em, Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments; Volume I: Strategic Play by Dan Harrington & Bill Robertie (Ranked #1)

General strategy - Super System: A Course in Power Poker by Doyle Brunson (Ranked #2)

Mindset - The Mental Game of Poker: Proven Strategies for Improving Tilt Control, Confidence, Motivation, Coping with Variance, and More by Jared Tendler and Barry Carter (Ranked #5)

Online Poker - Moorman’s Book of Poker by Chris Moorman and Byron Jacobs (Ranked #11)

Psychology - Caro's Book of Tells, the Body Language and Psychology of Poker by Mike Caro (Ranked #20)

Biography - Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Player by Anthony Holden (Ranked #25)

Fiction - Shut Up & Deal by Jesse May (Ranked #29)

Non Hold’em Strategy - Seven-Card Stud for Advanced Players by David Sklansky, Mason Malmuth, and Ray Zee (Ranked #35)

Cash Games - Harrington on Cash Games; How to Win at No-Limit Hold ’em Money Games: Volume I by Dan Harrington (Ranked #43)

Heads Up Strategy - Expert Heads Up No Limit Hold'em, Volume 1 by Will Tipton (Ranked #17)

Sit 'n Go Strategy - Sit ’n Go Strategy; Expert Advice for Beating One-Table Poker Tournaments (Ranked #57)

Here are some of the comments from the judges:

888poker Ambassador Akira Ohyama on The Mental Game of Poker:

“Back when I just started playing as a professional, I had issues with tilt as many others probably did. I like how this book teaches not how to remove tilt (which is clearly very hard) but teaches how to cope with it and better understand where it stems from. Definitely, a must read for any up and comer, so they don’t tilt their bankroll off.”

Former Late Night Poker winner Simon Trumper on Mike Caro’s Book of Tells:

“The first poker book that I ever read and it gave me such an edge 20-years ago.”

Cash game genius Justin ‘BoostedJ’ Smith on Seven Card Stud for Advanced Players:

“This book inspired me to think hard about 7-Card Stud while nobody was really paying attention to it. I have learned many plays from this book, and since done a lot of math work and incorporated derivatives and drawn heavy inspiration from it to consistently play in the Larry Flynt 1500-3000 Stud game for the past 7 years.”

WSOP bracelet winner Nick Petrangelo on Expert Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em:

“This was my first real introduction to game theory, and my wake up call that the serious players were studying game theory, making game trees, etc. Basically, reading this book helped me figure out I had no clue what was going on, even though I thought I was a good player at the time.”

London’s Hippodrome ambassador Kelly Saxby on Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Player:

“I think I bought this dreaming at some point in the future I would take the year off to play and see where it takes me! It’s a thrill ride reading through the high and lows of poker in terms of money and emotion and is highly entertaining.”

The Top Poker Bibles

The words ‘bible’ and ‘new testament’ were applied to a few classics. Harrington on Hold’em Series by Dan Harrington & Bill Robertie, Super Series by Doyle Brunson and Theory of Poker by Dave Sklansky spring to mind. 

Doyle Brunson wrote the original Super System 38 years ago. David Sklansky wrote the Theory of Poker 22 years ago, and the number one most influential poker book of all time Harrington on Hold ’em, Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments; Volume I: Strategic Play by Dan Harrington & Bill Robertie was written a decade ago.

As the votes were coming in and these timeless classics kept pulling away from the rest of the crowd, it reminded me of the old adage:

Poker takes a minute to learn, and a lifetime to master.

It seems apparent to me that a lot of books only have to be written once.

Here are some more ‘bibles.’

The Bible on Hold’em Strategy - Harrington on Hold ’em, Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments; Volume I: Strategic Play  by Dan Harrington & Bill Robertie (Ranked #1)

The Bible on General Poker Strategy - Super System: a Course in Power Poker by Doyle Brunson (Ranked #2)

The Bible on Real Time Tournament Play - Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen (Ranked #3)

The Bible on the Mathematics of Poker - The Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen & Jerrod Ankenman (Ranked #4)

The Bible on Mindset - The Mental Game of Poker: Proven Strategies for Improving Tilt Control, Confidence, Motivation, Coping with Variance, and More by Jared Tendler and Barry Carter

The Authors

The Top 59 ranked influential poker books of all times saw 20 authors pop up in the rankings with more than one book on their resume.

  • Dan Harrington - 6 books
  • Bill Robertie - 6 books
  • David Sklansky - 6 books
  • Doyle Brunson - 4 books
  • Daniel Negreanu - 3 books
  • Jonathan Little - 3 books

The following authors had 2 books in the Top 59:

Collin Moshman, Dusty Schmidt, James McManus, Zachary Ellwood, Mason Malmuth, Ed Miller, Ray Zee, Paul Hoppe, Jared Tendler, Barry Carter, Joe Navarro, Larry Philipps, Michael Craig, and Stewart Reubin.

Only Doyle Brunson authored two books that made it into the Top 10. They were Super System & Super System II. The latter was the only book to make it into the Top 10 without acquiring a #1 rating from any of the 56 judges.

6 players managed to author a book and also get their name into the title of Top 59 rated books: Dan Harrington, Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot, Phil Gordon, Amarillo Slim, and Chris Moorman achieved that feat.

Wait, that’s only five?

How could I forget the one and only 14-time WSOP bracelet winner: Phil Hellmuth Jr. The man with white magic oozing out of his fingertips appeared at #14 in the charts. He authored Play Poker Like the Pros, and also hit #58 spot with the Dusty Schmidt & Paul Hoppe strategy guide Don’t Listen to Phil Hellmuth: Correcting the 50 Worst Pieces of Poker Advice.

Both books give you polarising views of Hellmuth as do these two quotes:

"I'm disappointed that 'Play Poker Like The Pros' is ranked 14th most influential poker book by my fellow pros,” wrote Hellmuth. “I believe I have written the only NYTimes Best Selling book on poker strategy, and we have sold well over 500,000 copies of it and its iterations ('Phil Hellmuth's Texas Hold'em'). I think that my book helped bring millions of people into poker! Lastly, my book is filled with truth, which is why it sold so many copies."

Adam ‘Roothlus’ Levy didn’t agree:

“This was the first book I ever read and the worst. There wasn't much helpful in it, and he broke player types down into animals, which was pretty hilarious. All I did was get worse at poker after reading this, hardly play poker like the pros.”

Here are the Top 59 most influential poker books of all time.

Rank

Title

Author

1

Harrington on Hold’em, Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments; Volume I: Strategic Play

Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie

2

Super/System: A Course in Power Poker

Doyle Brunson

3

Every Hand Revealed

Gus Hansen

4

The Mathematics of Poker

Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman

5

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

Jared Tendler and Barry Carter

6

The Theory of Poker

David Sklansky

7

Let There Be Range!: Crushing SSNL/MSNL No-Limit Hold’em Games

Cole "Cts" South and Tri "Slowhabit" Nguyen

8

Power Hold'em Strategy

Daniel Negreanu

9

Super/System: A Course in Power Poker II

Doyle Brunson

10

Applications of No-Limit Hold’em

Matthew Janda

11

Moorman's Book of Poker

Chris Moorman & Byron Jacobs

12

Harrington on Hold’em, Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments; Volume II: The Endgame

Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie

13

Kill Everyone: Advanced Strategies For No-Limit Hold ‘Em Poker, Tournaments, And Sit-N-Gos

Lee Nelson and Others

14

Play Poker Like the Pros

Phil Hellmuth

15

Elements of Poker

Tommy Angelo

16

Ace on the River

Barry Greenstein

17

Expert Heads Up No Limit Hold'em, Volume 1

Will Tipton

18

Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players

David Sklansky & Mason Malmuth

19

Harrington on Hold ’em, Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments; Volume III: The Workbook

Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie

20

Caro's Book of Tells, the Body Language and Psychology of Poker

Mike Caro

21

Reading Poker Tells

Zachary Elwood

22

The Yoga of Poker

Andrew Lichtenberger

23

Winning Poker Tournaments - One Hand at a Time

Jon Turner, Eric Lynch and Jon Van Fleet

24

No Limit Hold’em: Theory and Practice

David Sklansky and Ed Miller

25

Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Player

Anthony Holden

26

Excelling at No-Limit Hold'em

Jonathan Little

27

Zen and the Art of Poker

Larry W. Phillips

28

Raiser's Edge

Bertrand Grospellier

29

Shut Up and Deal

Jesse May

30

The Biggest Game in Town

Al Alvarez

31

Devilfish: The Life & Times of a Poker Legend

Dave Ulliot

32

One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "the Kid" Ungar

Nolan Dalla

32

The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide

Michael Craig

33

The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time

Michael Craig

34

Kill Phil

Blair Rodman and Lee Nelson

35

Seven-Card Stud for Advanced Players

David Sklansky, Mason Malmuth, and Ray Zee.

36

The Mental Game Of Poker 2: Proven Strategies For Improving Poker Skill, Increasing Mental Endurance, And Playing In The Zone Consistently

Jared Tendler and Barry Carter

37

Tournament Poker for Advanced Players: Expanded Edition

David Sklansky

38

DUCY? Exploits, Advice, and Ideas of the Renowned Strategist

David Sklansky and Alan Schoonmacher

39

Championship No-Limit & Pot-Limit Hold’em

Tom McEvoy and T.J. Cloutier

40

Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker

Paul McGuire

41

For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player

Victoria Coren

42

Positively Fifth Street

James McManus

42

Verbal Poker Tells

Zachary Elwood

43

Harrington on Cash Games; How to Win at No-Limit Hold’em Money Games: Volume I.

Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie

43

Winning in Tough Hold’em Games; Short-Handed and High-Stakes Concepts and Theory for Limit Hold’em

Nick "Stoxtrader" Grudzien and Geoff "Zobags" Herzog

44

Winning Low Limit Hold’em

Lee Jones

44

Treat Your Poker Like a Business

Dusty Schmidt

45

The Tao of Poker

Larry W. Phillips

45

What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-reading People

Joe Navarro

45

The Education of a Poker Player

Herbert O. Yardley

45

Small Stakes Hold ‘em: Winning Big With Expert Play

Ed Miller, David Sklansky, Mason Malmuth

46

Professional No-Limit Hold ’em: Volume I

Matt Flynn, Sunny Mehta, and Ed Miller

47

According to Doyle

Doyle Brunson

47

Unmasking the Face: A Guide to Recognizing Emotions from Facial Clues

Paul Ekman

47

Mastering Pot-limit Omaha: The Modern Aggressive Approach

Herbert Okolowitz, Wladimir Taschner

48

Harrington on Cash Games; How to Win at No-Limit Hold ‘em Money Games: Volume II

Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie

49

Strategies For Beating Small Stakes Poker Tournaments

Jonathan Little

49

Easy Game: Making Sense of No Limit Hold'em 3rd Edition: Adaptations

Andrew Seidman

49

The Godfather of Poker

Doyle Brunson

50

Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em

Collin Moshman

50

Pot-Limit & No-Limit Poker

Stewart Reuben & Bob Ciaffone

51

High-Low-Split Poker, Seven-Card Stud and Omaha Eight- or-Better, for Advanced Players

Ray Zee

51

Amarillo Slim In A World Full Of Fat People: The Memoirs of the Greatest Gambler Who Ever Lived

Thomas 'Amarillo Slim' Preston

52

Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold'em

Phil Gordon

53

Harrington on Modern Poker Tournaments

Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie

54

52 Great Poker Tips: At Home, Tournament And Online

Lou Krieger

54

Poker Tilt

Dutch Boyd

55

Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker

James McManus

55

More Hold'em Wisdom for All Players

Daniel Negreanu

55

Read 'em and Reap

Joe Navarro

55

Way of the Poker Warrior

Paul Hoppe

55

Pass The Sugar

Joe Hachem

56

The Course: Serious Hold'em Strategy For Smart Players

Ed Miller

56

Hold'em Wisdom for All Players

Daniel Negreanu

56

Poker Tournament Formula

Arnold Snyder

56

How Good is Your Pot-Limit Omaha?

Stewart Reuben

57

Secrets of Short-handed Pot-Limit Omaha

Rolf Slotboom & Rob Hollink

57

Sit ’n Go Strategy; Expert Advice for Beating One-Table Poker Tournaments

Collin Moshman

57

Internet Texas Hold’em: Winning Strategies from an Internet Pro

Matthew Hilger

58

Life's a Gamble

Mike Sexton

58

Don’t Listen To Phil Hellmuth: Correcting The 50 Worst Pieces Of Poker Advice

Dusty Schmidt & Paul Hoppe

58

Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker I

Jonathan Little

59

Poker For Dummies

Poker For Dummies Series

59

Check-Raising the Devil

Mike Matusow, Amy Calistri, and Tim Lavalli

59

Middle Limit Hold'em Poker

Bob Ciaffone

 

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