Comparing poker tournament books Part 3: Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker

In Part 1 of this series I outlined what this series is all about, and how I would be judging and comparing the different tournament poker books. Part 3 will delve into my personal favorite among the tournament strategy guides, Jonathan Little’s Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker.

Here is a look at each of the entries I will cover in this series:

  • Harrington on Hold’ Em, by Dan Harrington Volumes 1-3
  • Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker, by Jonathan Little (Volumes 1 and 2 have been released and Volume 3 is in the works)
  • Kill Phil, Kill Everyone, and The Raisers Edge, by Lee Nelson, Blair Rodman, Bertrand Grospellier et al.
  • Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time, by Jon Turner, Eric Lynch, and John Van Fleet (Volumes 1-3)
  • The Poker Tournament Formula, by Arnold Snyder (Volumes 1 and 2)
  • Standalones: Every Hand Revealed, by Gus Hansen: Tournament Poker for Advanced Players, by David Sklansky: The Full Tilt Strategy Guide (tournament edition)

Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker Volumes 1-2, by Jonathan Little

Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker is an updated version of Harrington on Hold’ Em written by one of the first young talents in the Internet era, Jonathan Little. Now considered an “older” player, Little has the experience to go along with the “new-age” thinking that Internet players brought to the game.

Little is also a longtime poker coach and is most definitely a student of the game, so he is constantly up on the latest strategies.

One of the best things this series does is change the variables slightly when describing situations, which help the reader understand how easily decisions can be swayed with one subtle change. Overall, this is the best tournament poker series on the market, whether you are new to the game or a seasoned vet.

Basic Strategies (3)

Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker assumes the reader has some grounding in poker, and doesn’t waste a lot of time going over extremely basic concepts that can be found virtually anywhere on the Internet. This content is still in the book, but is only given a cursory explanation –which is great for experienced players but probably not so great for newer players.

 New Concepts (4)

Looking back at the two volumes in the series there really wasn’t all that much in the way of “new” information. Instead the book focused on thinking through different scenarios and making situational-based decisions instead of trying to find some magic winning formula. Because of this I gave the books a 4, since they teach you how to think about poker.

Clear and Concise (4)

With Volume 3 due out soon (a workbook-type entry to finish the series) it appears much like Harrington on Hold’ Em in terms of layout and design… but it’s not. Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker is easier to read, and a little more fast-paced in its writing style. Despite being more advanced strategically Little does a goods of job clearly explaining everything to the reader, and even players who think “yeah I already know/do that” will benefit from the explanations of these concepts by Little.

Will it Stand the test of Time (3)

Chances are that in the next five years I will view Jonathan Little’s contributions to the poker bookshelves in much the same way as I view Dan Harrington’s now, but Little makes a point of explaining himself in the book. Poker changes so fast that it’s hard for any book to stand the test of time.

Bang for your Buck (5)

If you are looking for two easy to read books that will vastly improve your poker game than Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker Volumes 1 and 2 will be a well spent $40.


Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Harrington on Holdem

Part 3: Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker

Part 4: Kill Phil/Raisers Edge

Part 5: Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time

Part 6: Tournament Poker Formula

Part 7: Standalones


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