For the last ten years, whenever people have asked me to recommend them a poker book, I had one of two answers for them. If I felt they were serious, I would recommend 'Theory of Poker' by David Sklansky - but I would caution them that they need to play - and possibly play a lot - for that book to really have any impact. If, on the other hand, I felt like the person asking just wanted to go to the card club, have some fun, and slow their 'burn rate', I would recommend Lee Jones "Winning Low Limit Hold em", which is a well written, simple approach to, well, winning low limit hold em.
But poker has changed a lot in the last few years, and most notably, the way poker is played in card clubs has changed. I recently stumbled upon a book that I think does a really good job of describing how poker is played today, and in at least one specific area, will definitely help your game.
Having grown up in Los Angeles, playing at the Bike, or Commerce has become part of my regular poker playing routine. There are a few things about the games in these rooms that are a little different from many of the games you see in other parts of the country, or on the internet.
I just finished reading Mastering No Limit Hold Em by Russell Fox and Scott Harker. Although I would not say I know Russell well, I have played with him a bit at events like BARGE, and ESCARGOT over the last couple years, so - buyer beware....I do know the author a bit.
I found this book to be an excellent snapshot of what small buy in No Limit Hold em has become, especially in the card clubs of Southern California.
The book is written in a voice that I think fits its audience well. Simple, but specific, and committed is the way I would describe the tone of the book. Of course, there are the requisite strategy sections, which I found to be really solid, and helpful. Nothing super out of the box here, but good strategy, and considerations for those ready to saddle up, and put $100-$500 in play at a small blind No Limit Hold Em table. This is a very common sense approach to playing a game that is taking over (table by table) many of the live rooms in America.
In the sections where hands are discussed, I found the advice to be well thought out. The best thing about these sections to me is the authors make an attempt in simple language to explain the underlying thought processes of how these hands play out. I don't think this book will turn people who aren't that familiar with poker off, the way Theory can for some.
Where the book really sets itself apart for me are the sections on 'Mastering your Mind', and 'Mastering your game'. I found that, because of the directness of the way the book is written, these sections present very simple to understand guidelines that any new player could use to his or her advantage. Often times, it is how we handle ourselves as players, and manage ourselves that will set us apart from others who 'crash and burn' by playing over their heads, or losing their cool, or whatever. This book does a really good job of spelling some basic theory out, and takes the reader through simple ways they can become much better poker players.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking to play No Limit Hold Em cash games. I would also recommend this book as a gift to that 23 year old college senior who thinks he has poker figured out. Figure yourself out first, then try to figure poker out.
Ed Note: Figure your game out by practicing at Poker Stars