As a card game which has been around since 19th century, poker has evolved several times. It is only normal, after all, that players want to learn new ways to beat their opponents and to improve different aspects of their game such as strategic thinking, bluffing, learning how to read their opponents and so on… The most entertaining way to learn about all of this is to just watch streams on popular platforms such as Twitch, where a lot of professional players show their skills and narrate their thinking process, so as to help others understand everything. Streams are not available all the time, but don’t just give up and go play bingo at 888! The next best thing are books. The good old books offer even more information on specific situations, hands, odds in which you should fold, even if at the cost of the entertainment factor.
One of the most useful poker books for me is The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky. It is a book that will without any doubt teach you how to bluff and not be too obvious, as well as when to do it without any risk of being exposed. It also elaborates on why it is important to deceive your opponents. I liked how the book explains the power of powerplaying and the power of bullying your opponents into plays. Reading hands is another great skill this books attempts to teach its readers, even though it is by far the most difficult one.
Another book I found quite useful for more advanced players is Essential Poker Math, written by Alton Hardin. What you will have a chance of learning here is the basis of reasoning in poker – the mathematical logic behind probabilities and odds, as well as how to calculate the expected value of the play or ratios. By knowing everything about it to the point where your calculations become automatic, you are allowing yourself to be a real machine when it comes to figuring whether you should play a hand or not. However, this book does not really focus on the emotional part of the poker, which affects a lot players much more than the logical part.
The Psychology of Poker is the book I go back to most often. It was written by an incredible psychologist, Dr. Alan Schoonmaker, who is now retired but plays games with relatively low stakes in big casinos. As a person who was both a player in poker games and a spectator out of them, he has an amazing perspective on how to read your opponents and get into their heads. He maps out the importance of psychology in poker and does his best to teach the basic psychology skills to an average reader. The most impressive part of the book is the appendix where Schoonmaker lists four different kinds of poker players and describes them in great details so as to help you defeat them.
There are many other cool books about poker, but these three are just amazing in what they offer to an average player – a little bit of psychology, maths and basic poker skills.