RADICAL POKER BOOK IDEAS: Must read this!!!!
Brace yourselves, I know there will be many to disagree with me. Read on.
Harrington on hold'em is not the best book out there for this purpose: "a newish player making money in online tournaments or smallish buyin casino tourneys". These are masterful books, but there is a problem. Harrington is a very, very tight player who plays primarily in major live tournaments with long rounds and deep starting chip stacks. Why do you think they call him Action Dan (jokingly of course)? And don't believe his starting hand requirements. I played with him for 5 hours in a $1,000 buyin tourney at Bellagio. He playes much tighter than his book suggests. As far as Sklansky, you are not ready for it. It is very deep with subtle concepts that will take some time for you to understand . . . trust me.
What do I know? I will tell you. I have read (actually studied) almost every tournament and cash game book out there. I have played 75-100 hrs of online poker per month for 3 years, supplemented by 3-4 multi-day casino trips per year. Out of the gates, I followed bankroll management principles to a T (Except for starting out, I never played higher that whatever limit I had 500xBB in my bankroll). I built a $50 online deposit into 20G in 1.5 yrs. I started at 25-50 cent limit cash games and worked my way up. Take me for my word, I know a thing or two about playing poker. I have never gone broke and I currently make approx 2G/month playing online (this is my hobby - I have a real fulltime job as an engineer). I want to share my ideas with you - you obviously want to get better at playing poker and make some money. I want to help.
Here is the "must-read" list, in order - below in a couple paragraphs, be patient in reading this. Study each book and reread/study it several times, play for a few weeks, then devour the next one. Another thing. To get really good, you need to focus on either cash games or tournaments. Both types of poker are drastically different. Different strategies and skills are required for each form.
I would recommend playing limit holdem for 1-2 years before venturing into NL. Limit forces you to learn the odds, statistics, etc. If you learn to play limit, these skills will transfer readily to NL (but you will have many, many new things to learn to play NL). Study Lee Jones' Low Limit Hold'em. Once you make a little $ for a few months go to Ed Miller's book, titled Beginner's Hold'em (or something like that)for the first few months. Ed is a brilliant. Many pro's don't fully understand some of the basic hold'em theory that Ed reveals. Next, Low Limit Holdem by Sklansky & Miller (again, Ed delivers some fundamental ideas that are very powerful, even for seasoned players). These books by Ed Miller will not be "too simple" - even pro's would be well served to read them; they are simple, beginner level . . . complex is not always better.
Then during your second year, focus on Matt Hilger's Internet Texas Hold'em (this is an underated bood that teaches you to think and play like a poker pro). This is a good mid-tier book for playing up to $5-10 limit holdem; although you can make money at $10-20 with these ideas. When you jump to $10-20 you need some more advanced tools. At this level, intense study of Bob Ciafone's Middle Limit Hold'em Poker and Sklansly's Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players (although I contend that Sklansky's advanced book is for larger, tougher games that typical $10-20). New book update: I would study Barry Tenenbaum's new book before Sklansky's advanced book. Barry is a good teacher. He has personally given me advance on multiple occassions (he loves to teach and I love to learn).
Somewhere during your journey, at around $5-10 or $10-20 limit level, dig into Sklansky's theory of poker. It is actually a very deep read. Many ideas are doable, but trust me, there is much that may be over a 1-2 yr player's head. The other good books (Hilger, Ciafone, etc) cover most of the same ideas with less effort.
When you get to $10-20 level, unless you play live in a casino, move to NL games. Mid-to-high Limit Holdem games online are actually tough as nails (although more beatable in casinos); NL Holdem is much softer online. Now, after learning the basics with Limit Holdem, having proven to yourself that poker is profitable, move on to NL tourneys. But a bit of advice on money management for NL tourneys. Only play 1% of your bankroll in any multi-table tourney, maybe 2% in SNG's. For cash games, never buyin for more than 3-5% of your bankroll. Fail to do this and you will likely go broke. I have lost before, for weeks at a time, but I have never gone broke.
Reading List (in chronological order, not by ranking). Brace yourself, some of you will be shocked by my recommendations & comments!
1.) Texas Hold'em Poker (Tom McEvoy's beginner series book - title may not be exact - I am on the road now). This book give you a very basic strategy for playing NL tournaments. You need solid fundamentals, and this simple "wait for big cards and bust them" will make $. You have to start somewhere learning the NL game, and until you master the basics, the deeper stuff (i.e., many of Sklansky subtle ideas) will be over your head.
2.) Championship Hold'em (Cloutier & McEvoy). A simple book, but I appreciate TJ's wisdom each time I re-read it from time to time. I followed TJ's tight strategy and made multipel final tables my first year playing tourney poker (Finished 12th in Hustler Casino Grand Slam in '04 - my first live tourney in a bigtime tournament series, outlasting David Pham, and other notables - but I was too to tight to even fathom winning it). This book keeps you out of trouble in the ealier levels. If you catch some cards you have a very good chance of cashing, but not of winning.
3.) Harrington's books (study Vol. 1 over, and over). You will still be playing a tight-aggressive strategy with this, but Dan will introduce you to the big-picture theory of tournament poker, and he will (despite his tight image) teach you beginner and advanced tournament strategy. These books are a poker masterpiece that may never be matched (poker players - new ones anyway - should all thank Dan). But you will be still be playing much to tight to have anything but medeocre tourney results (online and $200 level buyin or lower casino tourneys). But still study these intently. Hell, I wore the binding off of the 1st (blue) and 2nd (red) book. The 2nd book is the best book of the two for SNG strategy, by far! But you will still play too tight.
4.) NL Holdem - Theory and Practice. This is a very good book. Embrace it. Good for general NL strategy applicable to tourneys or for cash games.
Get ready, the next one will certainly shock most of you . . . This is the best book for making $ online and in most weekly casino tourneys with fast structures (i.e., start off with 50-75 x BB or less and short rounds).
5.) The Poker Tournament Formula by Anthony Snider. This guy is actually a blackjack guru. You might say, "What does he know about poker?". To begin with, little to nothing. He decided to study tournament poker. He started at the very bottom in low buyin events ($50 or less in Las Vegas, where he lives). He experimented (trial and error), studied all the books out there, then he blew the doors off of conventional poker tourney theory (which had been mostly developed by higher stakes players, Like Harrington). His ideas are the best out there for making money in lower buyin, fast structure tournaments and for winning SNG's. Just read it! You will learn optimal strategy for these events.
As far as Fishman's book, it is junk. Seriously, Scott must have squeezed it in during his spare time, or when he was not smoking a joint. This is not a serious, noteworthy book.
What are my rec's for cash game books?
Obviously the Sklansky & Miller NL Holdem - Theory and Practice. Now for playing $1-2 to $2-5 NL, another ABSOLUTE SHOCKER!!! :
No Limit Holdem by Angel Largay. Angel has developed some ideas for beating the lower limit no limit game (similar to what Lee Jones did for Low Limit Holdem). Angel actually plays in $2-5 games himself. Why so low? He used to play in $10-20 NL and $30-60 limit games in LA. Because there is so much dead money in lower limit cash games. In casinos, tons of fish flock to the tables. Angel's ideas will help you fleece them. Online, it will be a tougher though.
As of this post, there are no other decent NL books (cash games or tournament). I may have left something off - shoot me.
As you can see, I don't have strong oppinions about poker books (laughing). I hope this helps someone out there. This list and post is not in-line with most popular writing, opinions, etc. But that is ok, I honestly believe every word of it. I am still learning and in spite of my success (believe me, making steady profit and not going broke is success), I do not profess to be any kind of expert . . . I am serious about that statement. I am just a grinder who makes some extra $ playing. But I have put in a lot of effort learning the game and playing. Anybody can do this, but it takes a lot of work and you have to either be very bright or just love poker (I actaully have a moderate level of intelligence, but I love poker).
What is the best book out there?