Learning new hobbies can be fun and exciting. A way to pass the time, learn new skills and meet like-minded individuals. It can also be a way to keep your mind or body active, playing board games or cards is a fun past time that has been hugely popular for hundreds of years.
The aim of Poker
Poker has been de rigour for a very long time, and the basic game has changed very little since its inception in the 17th Century. The aim is to have a stronger hand than your opponent, and in doing so win the pot. The most popular form of poker is Texas Hold ‘Em, a community based variant of the game, where players are dealt two hole cards (i.e. cards only they see) and five shared cards, with all players using their cards, and the five shared cards to make the strongest had consisting of five cards.
Players can win by having the strongest hand, or by forcing their opponents to fold, making them think their hand is stronger. Players can find the ranking of poker hands here; one of the first steps in learning how to play poker.
Poker’s enduring allure
There are a few key factors that mean that poker is popular to this day, including:
Poker is a sociable game, with opportunities to connect with people in person or virtually, making friends from around the world.
The advances in technology mean that poker can be played by pretty much anyone who wants to. Online poker rooms and tournaments mean that players can access games anytime, and from the comfort of their own homes.
Learning poker takes skill. This can be attractive to those who want an opportunity to show that they are better than their opponents. It is also a way to keep the little grey cells active, so many chose to learn poker as a way to maintain mental acuity.
Learning to play poker
Many of the most successful players spend many hours reading about the basics of the game as well as more advanced strategies. There are many websites offering hints and tips, as well as online videos and even podcasts. The most comprehensive way to get a solid foundation in how to play poker and the best strategies is by reading specialist poker books.
Top for Texas Hold ‘Em Strategy
Harrington on Hold’em, Volume 1: Strategic Play: Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments by Dan Harrington and Bill Rebertie, 2004
This is widely considered one of the most comprehensive and thorough of all the books about No Limits Texas Hold ‘Em play, written by a former Wold Series champion. There are strategies for every phase of tournament play, including the early stages of low betting play, all the way through to tactics such as bluffing, flops, and scare cards. There is also a section on playing shorthanded, loose games, and the all-important end game play.
This book, and the others in the series, are an excellent introduction to the game, covering a number of additional aspects such as site selection, rake-back and HUD (Heads Up Display). One of the main factors that sets this book apart from competitors is the support and guidance it gives to players navigating the online world.
Tips for General Poker Strategy
Super/System: A Course in Power Poker by Doyle Brunson, 1978
This was one of the first books ever written about poker strategy, and is considered by most to be a poker bible, offering insight into poker strategy. Written by Doyle Brunson following back to back wins at the main event of the World Series in 1976 and 1977. The book is part autobiographical, charting Brunson’s life and poker successes, but quickly spreads into general poker strategies, including:
- Draw Poker
- Seven Card Stud
- Limit Texas hold’ Em
- No limit Texas Hold ‘Em
The book also has a comprehensive list of probabilities and statistics and a number of scenarios and what ifs are outlines, as well as FAQs. Despite being published in the late 1970s, much of the content is still relevant, and a sequel was published in 2004, calling on the expertise of many well-known poker stars, including Daniel Negreanu and Johnny Chan.
Tip for out of the box thinking
Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen, 2008
Nicknamed the Great Dane, Hansen is one of pokers most intriguing players. Known for his fearless and aggressive style of play, his book is a great insight into a style of play that straddles the cup of win big lose big. Upon entering the 2007 Aussie Millions, he used a Dictaphone to chart all his plays, and once he won the tournament, turned these into a book, charting and outlining every significant play in the tournament.
This book is a great insight into a great poker mind, and may not be the best starting point for a novice, but will definitely show players of any level the skill and strategy needed to reach the highest levels of success.
Can you learn poker from books alone?
The many hundreds of poker strategy books on the market clearly show that using books to learn how to play poker is an effective medium. Individuals need to identify what kind of poker they want to learn, and what their learning style is. Some will be able to retain information by reading, where others need to play through things, or learn by listening or watching.
In addition to books, players will find a wealth of online information including videos on YouTube and other platforms, poker quizzes, and some have even made a career out of becoming poker coaches, helping players of all levels to improve their game. Some online casinos also have a beginners’ area, offering tables for novices where live dealers will help new players learn the ropes, as well as providing information on how to play poker.