Top 10 books every poker player should read: The Mental Game of Poker

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:

  • The Expert at the Card Table by  S.W. Erdnase
  • Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks and the Hidden Powers of the Mind by Alex Stone
  • Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker by James McManus
  • 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
  • How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
  • Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
  • The Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman

The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler

The first true poker book on the list is by Mental Game Coach Jared Tendler, and is aptly titled the Mental Game of Poker. This was Tendler’s first foray into writing, and the publishing process, produced what I would consider the seminal work on dealing with the psychological aspects of poker (and I’m not talking about meta-game strategy or anything like that) and how to improve as a poker player simply by recognizing and acting on your weaknesses.

The Mental Game of Poker not only explains how your mind works and what issues players will face at the poker tables, but it also details ways to improve your mental game, and according to Tendler this is the same process players use to improve their strategic skills, and everyone, even the worst tilter in poker is capable of improving.

The reason this book is so important to poker players is in the way Tendler explains the process and leads you on a journey of becoming a better poker player, through his incredible insight and some tough love.

If you are thinking  this book is going to rehash the usual, “I know, take deep breaths, realize bad beats happen, and know when to quit… yada, yada, yada,” then you are sadly mistaken. The Mental Game of Poker views these as quick fixes that will not fix the long-term problem. If you want to fix the long-term go purchase the Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler.



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  • Posted in: Poker, Poker Book Reviews
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