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Recommended Books and Software

POKER BOOKS

Our criterion for listing books on this page is simple; we put them here if they've made us money. Understand that most books on gambling our completely worthless. If someone is trying to sell you a ‘craps system', or a ‘slay the slots' book, they're trying to hawk a bill of goods. There are some people who insist that biased roulette wheels can be found, but we can't verify this. In any case, anyone selling a roulette system is invariably a con artist as well, since any gambler who found a biased wheel—and knew how to exploit it—would doubtlessly keep that little nugget of knowledge to themselves.

Along the same lines, we need to tell you that most poker books are just as useless as the types of books listed in the aforementioned paragraph. The problem with poker books is that 99% of the information can be correct, but that 1% of bad advice can completely negate the value of the rest of the text. When you're looking for poker books you want to be absolutely sure that ALL of the advice is sound. To that end, we fully endorse the following texts. We've read just about every Hold ‘em book out there, so if it's not on our list we don't recommend it (exception: I have not read Bob Ciaffone's  Hold ‘em books, but I have every reason to believe they're of high quality since his book on Pot Limit Omaha is top-tier). Stick with the books we recommend and you'll have all the quality poker books you'll ever need.

Hold ‘em Poker by David Sklansky
One of the first books dedicated to this fast growing game, and it's still one of the best. The Sklansky Hand Rankings are still used by many winning players, and the post-flop advice is second to none. David Sklansky—along with his partner, Mason Malmuth—is widely regarded as one of the premier authorities on poker, and virtually everything he writes can be counted on to be correct. He, like Stanford Wong, is one of the few authors on gambling texts whose work is almost never refuted by experts. Buy this book, and study it. Once you've finished, start reading it again. *

Hold ‘em Poker for Advanced Players by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth.
This book is basically an extension of ‘Hold ‘em Poker', although it provides the reader with more detailed explanations and examples than its predecessor. If I had to credit one book for helping me make my first ten thousand dollars playing Hold ‘em this would be the one.

Inside the Poker Mind by John Feeney
Two things here. First, John Feeney is a class act. Second, he's one of this country's finest Hold ‘em players. Before easing himself into semi-retirement John was considered one of the best Hold ‘em players in Southern California . This book is a compendium of the knowledge and insights he gained while playing professionally. I've talked to a lot of people about Hold ‘em books and I'm always pleased to hear what high marks this book has earned with other serious players, since I myself was so impressed when I read it.

Winning Low Limit Hold ‘em by Lee Jones
The funny thing about this book is that I can wholly recommend the second edition, while I absolutely cannot endorse the first edition. The problem with the first edition is that the pre-flop advice is just terrible, which largely mitigates the quality insights Jones offers on post-flop play. In the second edition, however, Jones has fixed these shortcomings, which is why I feel comfortable giving this text a thumbs-up. Some players argue that the flop strategy is weak, since Jones typically recommends you get as much money in the middle on the flop when you think you have the best of it. There is a school of thought that suggests you should sometimes slow down on the flop in order to raise the turn when a scare card doesn't hit, and I largely agree with this school. But, that doesn't change the fact that Jones offers sound and easy to implement strategies for players still getting their feet wet.

Poker Essays I, II, and III by Mason Malmuth
As the titles suggest, all three of these books are devoted to essays that Malmuth has written about poker. If I had to pick a favorite I'd pick Poker Essays III , but all three are fine texts.

Real Poker by Roy Cooke
Another great book by an acknowledged Hold ‘em master. In this book Cooke dissects the play of hands that a lot of players would find tricky, and offers a detailed rationale for every play he makes. The book also contains valuable passages on what personality characteristics a winning player should try to embody, and how a player should react to both hot and cold streaks. A unique quality of this book is that in addition to being informative, it is also fun to read.  Cooke's essays are straightforward, honest and often humorous.  You can't help but like Roy Cooke after reading this book. 

Tournament Poker for Advanced Players by David Sklansky
I'm not much of tournament player, so this book is only of limited use for me. But devoted tournament players will find plenty here that makes the book worthwhile. The discussion of ‘The Gap Concept', for instance, could alone make a tournament player thousands of dollars.

Claiming Colorado by G. Ed Conly
This book is only for players who are looking to play in the 2-5 spread limit games offered in Colorado . I'm a little biased here, since I know Ed and think he's a great guy. Also, he dealt me a hand five years ago that qualified for a ‘bad beat jackpot' and netted me almost 25 grand. That having been said, I've read this book and wouldn't recommend it if the advice wasn't sound. The only problem I have with this book is the expected win rates- to my knowledge nobody can beat the 2-5 game with a three dollar drop for fifteen bucks an hour. Otherwise, this book is a fine edition to the libraries of Colorado Hold em players.

SPORTS BETTING BOOKS
We're only going to recommend one book here. The problem with sports betting books is that they usually either a) offer nothing meaningful, or b) don't give a detailed treatment of the ideas and concepts that guide experienced handicappers. If you're looking for a book that actually shows you step by step how to handicap games you can end your search now, since that book does not exist. Anyone who's figured out how to beat sports at a 55% clip is not going to divulge their secrets for $19.99. That being the case, most sports betting texts offer nothing more than 150 pages devoted to exposing scamdicappers (a term used to reference those idiots you hear on the radio offering you a ‘lock' for twenty bucks) and explaining why parlay cards are a bad bet. I've read many, many sports betting books, and virtually none of them contained anything of real value.

Now that we've got that out of the way, the recommended book is:

Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong
This is the only sports betting book I've ever read that's put money in my pocket. In this book Wong explains how a player can ‘convert' point spreads to money lines (thereby assuring the savvy bettor that he's getting the most betting value for his dollar), use Poisson distributions to evaluate proposition bets, and identify ‘rogue' betting lines that can be bet blindly for profit. He also gives a great treatment on exploring season wins bets and ‘middles' wagers in the NFL. Note: This book does not tell you how to handicap. But then, no book does. What this book does do, though, is present many concepts that will put dough in your wallet if you implement them properly.

By the way, Wong has a website, www.sharpsportsbetting.com , which is one of the finest sports betting sites on the web. He offers picks from a stable of qualified handicappers, and the open forums have some of the better sports betting discussions on the net.

SOFTWARE

Bob Dancer's Win Poker : The best software on the market for playing and anlayzing video poker games . An absolute must for anyone getting serious about video poker.

Turbo Texas Hold'em : Probably the best software going for honing your Texas Hold'em play. Simulated games give you detailed statistics regarding every aspect of your play. If you're just starting out or trying to eliminate leaks in your play, there's nothing like it.

Poker Tracker : Poker Tracker can give you a detailed analysis of your on-line Texas Hold'em play. It allows you to download your hand history from most major poker rooms in order to provide you with detailed statistical information on your play. Lots of fun and very enlightening.