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WARNING: Although Rachel believes poker is a skill game, she also thinks it’s just as addictive as any other type of gambling and strongly recommends you never ever risk money you can’t afford to lose.
Fortune Telling with Playing Cards by Jonathan Dee – printed in 2004 and 2009, this book thoroughly and concisely explains how to use an ordinary deck of playing cards to tell the future – something which has been done since tarot cards were invented in the early 19th century.
Rules of the Deck and What’s in a Deck? by Rachel Hoyt – poems written to help you learn the divination meanings of the playing cards (inspired by the rhyme from 1915 quoted by many).
POKER HISTORY BOOKS
Cowboys Full: The History of Poker by James McManus – published in 2009, this book explains poker like never before. Beginning with intriguing details about the weekly poker games of numerous politicians (Barack Obama, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, and more) it shows the power of poker skills in American culture while thoroughly explaining the game’s roots and prolific presence in our daily lives.
Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling by David G. Schwartz – published in 2006 (hardback) and 2007 (paperback), this book details the evolution of gambling from prehistoric times to the present throughout the world. It offers examples of gambling in the Bible and Hindu writings, traces the development of playing cards from their first appearance in the 12th century, explains how a national lottery helped finance the founding of the United States, and much, much more.
All In: The (Almost) Entirely True Story of the World Series of Poker by Thomas Dunne Books – published in 2006, this book describes how the World Series of Poker began and contains memories and statistics from the first $10,000 “freezeout” tournament in 1971 through the 34th WSOP Main Event in 2005.
MEMOIRS AND NOVELS
The Green Felt Jungle by Ed Reid and Ovid Demaris – originally published in 1963, this book combined the knowledge of two journalists to expose many seedy secrets of Las Vegas to the public for the first time.
The Godfather of Poker by Doyle Brunson and Mike Cochran – the 2012 memoir of a true poker legend. Many know that Doyle Brunson played in the first World Series of Poker and is a two time main event champion, but this book reveals many tales never before known about the beginnings of his poker career in Fort Worth, Texas and mob run Las Vegas.
Positively Fifth Street by James McManus – published in 2004, this riveting tale recounts events from the spring of 2000 when Harper’s Magazine sent the author to Las Vegas to write about the World Series of Poker (and the murder of its founder Benny Binion) and McManus decided to risk his entire advance on a long-shot chance to play in the Main Event himself.
Last Call by Tim Powers – published in 2013, the novel has a magical mixture of poker, spiritualism, fortune telling which intrigued this website’s author like no other. In it, a professional gambler returns to the game after taking years off because he lost his soul and needs to win it back.
Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke: published in 2018 and 2019, written by a former World Series of Poker champion, this book utilizes examples from business, sports, politics, poker, and more to teach you how to make wise decisions in times of uncertainty.
POKER INSTRUCTION BOOKS
Read ‘Em and Reap by Phil Hellmuth, Joe Navarro, and Marvin Karlins, Ph.D. – published in 2006, this book teaches you how to detect when someone is buffing in poker (lying), utilizing the knowledge of an FBI nonverbal communication and behavior analysis specialist. It’s an excellent introduction to decoding poker tells.
Essential Poker Math by Alton Hardin – published in 2015 and 2018, this short book teaches players easy ways to do all the calculations needed to make wise decisions at the poker table.
Texas Hold’em Odds and Probabilities: Limit, No-Limit, and Tournament Strategies by Matthew Hilger – first published in 2006, this is the first book that Rachel Hoyt used to learn about poker statistics. It’s a thorough introduction of the math required to make wise decisions at the felt that includes about 40 pages of helpful charts and a CD with further lessons and an odds calculator.
Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2: A Course in Power Poker – published in 2009 as an update to the original Super System, this book is considered by many to be the Bible of Poker and has contributions from Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth Jr., Daniel Negreanu, Jennifer Harman, Todd Brunson, Lyle Berman, Steve Zolotow, Crandell Addington, Bobby Baldwin, Johnny Chan, and Mike Caro.