Top 10 books every poker player should read: Fooled by Randomness

Poker is a game of continuing education, and if you are not continually learning as a poker player the game is going to pass you by. One of the best, and most commonly used, ways of improving your game is to read. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be reading poker strategy books (which at a certain point become very repetitious and lack any real insight that you don’t already know) as there are plenty of books on poker theory to choose from, and plenty of non-poker books that fit in perfectly with the game.

This article series will rundown my list of the 10 books every poker player should read, giving a brief overview of the content and why it’s must-reading for poker players.  Lacking from this list will be any mention of specific poker strategy books, but I would recommend that all new or struggling poker players pick up a volume on whichever game they are playing: be it tournaments (Jonathan Little’s Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker would be a great read) or PLO cash-games (in this case you can read any of the books written by Rolf Slotboom or Robert Hwang).

Each article in this series will focus on a specific book from the following list:

  • Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker by James McManus
  • How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
  • Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks and the Hidden Powers of the Mind by Alex Stone
  • Blink/Tipping Point/Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler
  • Treat Your Poker Like a Business by Dusty Schmidt
  • Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
  • The Expert at the Card Table by  S.W. Erdnase
  • The Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman

Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Luck is a major part of poker, and life in general, and no book explains the way luck (randomness) actually affects our daily lives like Fooled by Randomness, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (who also wrote The Black Swan). For those of us that overestimate our skill (because of a lucky run) this book will knock us back down to earth. Conversely, for those of us that decry our bad luck, this book will explain what is really taking place, and how you are no different than any other person in the world.

There is no closer parallel to poker than Wall Street trading, so any book dealing with the markets is applicable to poker. But the reason Taleb’s book resonates with poker is based on his outlook of trading. Much like a hand of poker, Taleb argues that a trade should not be judged by whether or not it made or lost money, but instead based on the logic that was applied to make the decision itself.

If you’re struggling to comprehend to results oriented thinking than this is the book for you. This is considered the go to book when it comes to separating luck from randomness and how we recognize and deal with randomness in our daily lives.

Poker players MUST read this book, because results oriented thinking is simply an unnatural way to look at things, and something we all need to study and understand on a far deeper level than most of us want to admit.


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