Best Tournament poker books

Arnold Snyders books are great, and a lot of the concepts, such as almost never limping, emphasis on position and betting when players check are all important things. I used to think these were the best poker books Ive read. However, the more I think about it, the more questionable his ideas become. With antes, Snyder suggests shoving a lot of the time pre, which does not make sense at all. He also is very vague about what to do with 50BB+ and there is a big difference in play between 50BB and 100BB and even 200BB. He also never teaches the final table and things like ICM. Unlike what he says, players play so badly on final tables you can easily win money or at least not play badly. Also, he has this 30-20-10 rule with BBs, which states that at 30BB you have to start making moves, 20BB you might have to do some shoves and 10BB is all shoving. This makes sense, however, he says that it should then change to 40-30-20 with antes, you should not be making too many shoves from 30BB! So that play is quite questionable. His idea that the more chips you have the more useful they are has some merit, but not enough a good player should not flip a coin to try to double up to first hand or go bust, you will make less money. Overall his books have some good points and perspectives, but is slightly outdated and should not be blindly followed in my opinion.

No, no book should be followed blindly, and there is no formula that you can religiously follow to succeed in tournaments, but Snyder had a lot of success in tournaments in his time, and I daresay he would still do fairly well on RP.

The more I have a little bit of success on RP, the more I realize that one of the most important factors of all, that cannot be taught, is observing the play of opponents and devising plans to counter them. Daniel Negreanu attributes a lot of his skill in reading opponents on remembering hands that they have played before, and I can believe it.

I never used to take notes on opponents, and I still don’t, but having played the same tournaments on RP pretty regularly over the last couple of months, I have had plenty of opportunity to study the playing style of a number of the most successful opponents, and now know things like that they will always call a raise of 3BB from the BB and will always lead out with a half-pot bet with nothing, but will always quickly fold when reraised if they are donk bet bluffing. Or that another player will never raise preflop, and will never bet top pair on the flop, always preferring to go to the river. Or that another player will shove preflop with AQ at low blinds, so could be well worth a call with AK.

I have also become much better at dealing with players I have never seen before. In last night’s tournament the player who finished 4th (only 3 paid places) was a player ranked in the 300,000 range who entered lots of pots, called lots of raises but never seemed to lose a pot. He led out with a bet on every flop and placed a lot of overbets on the river forcing folds with second pair or top pair no kicker, or on flushing and straightening boards.

I experimented a bit by reraising one of his flop bets with nothing and he folded. After that if he was in the BB I would make my preflop bets a bit bigger, so as to make his lead out bets bigger when he clicked on the half pot button, so that I could then make a decision whether to go for the pot. Eventually he departed when another player set a trap for him and he fell right in.

Particularly important is how players play hands like AQ and AJ preflop. I know one player, whom I will not name, who regularly plays in the top buy-in tournaments, but I think with not a lot of success. I once saw him raise preflop, get 3-betted, and then shove with AJ off suit. The flop came with 2 Jacks and he won the pot against AK, but the important thing was knowing that this player regards AJo as a very powerful hand and that his preflop shoves are not in as tight a range as one might expect from some other players, but that a Jack high flop might be very good for him.

So no, Snyder is not the be-all and end-all, but of the books on tournament play, he may be the one who can most help amateur or beginning players to become more competitive. Certainly many tournament players on RP would benefit from his ideas.

I certainly think that Snyder is right that the best chance of winning a tournament is to get a large stack early. You can certainly win a tournament by sneaking in with a small stack and doubling or tripling up strategically with a few premium hands, and I have won plenty of MTTS in that manner, but with a large early stack you are much less vulnerable to getting rivered and going out when your AA is busted by TT on the river.

The replay viewer didn’t show his hand. Calling with K2 here after a bet and a raise is highly questionable especially when you consider ICM.

I do not know why you could not see this!

I cannot imagine what K2 thought he was beating when there were 2 other players hotly contesting the pot.

On replaying the hand a couple of times it looks as if K2 must have used the preset call button for the bet on the turn. Certainly his bet was astonishingly quick when a decision needed to be made whether to call or raise. Perhaps he took the first bet as a bluff with 2 overcards, thinking that no one would expect a player to make their boat with the 2, and just clicked on the autocall button, hoping to see another brick on the river and to then spring an ambush.

But we talk about RP as if it were the WSOP, but it is play money. If someone has the calling station gene, then they are going to call, because that is what they do.

You see it all the time, and I do it too. You have a decent hand, but it looks like someone else may have an even better one, and you should fold, but you decide that the hell with it, you are not going to be bluffed off your pretty hand, and if you lose, so be it.

Probably the best way to get an early double up in MTTs on RP is to lead on the flop with top pair, top kicker, or 2 pair, and shove the flop if it has a flush draw or straight draw, because many players with the flush draw will NEVER EVER fold it. Your whole stack on a 65/35 proposition is a pretty good deal. The only downside is that sometimes the flush seeker will have other outs, for example a pair of Aces on a later street with his suited Ace.

You even see players calling off their whole stack on a gutshot straight draw.

Here again, you have to know your opponents. If they do not have a long history of final table appearances and tournament wins at the level you are playing at, then they are more likely to call these chasing bets. The players who are persistent winners are more likely to cut their losses and look for another opportunity to win a pot.

It is a bit like dealing in options in the stock market. Most options expire worthless, so it is usually more profitable to sell options than to buy them. In poker it is much more profitable to sell drawing options than to buy them as they will always be overpriced and in any case likely to expire worthless.

The only time when it is really worthwhile to chase draws is when you have a huge stack and can afford to pay with the prospect of stacking an opponent, or else you have a really small stack and hitting the draw is your best chance of doubling up in an all or nothing situation, where folding would leave you dead in the water.

Occasionally, however, I may call a gutshot draw to the nuts, especially if I already have a pair, and pay over the odds, based on implied odds and the chances of stacking an aggressive player.

I do not know why you could not see this!

This recent forum post might explain why

I’d also highly recommend Dan Harrington’s books on tournament play (Harrington on Hold’em, 3 volumes), from the same era. Both are a little dated now, but I think still good enough far a very large edge over most here (and even in many live tournaments). And I think the ideas are easier to apply to your actual play than a lot of the more recent theory.

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Since this got moved, some of the context was lost. This was a response to a thread that was discussing playing a style recommended in Snyder’s tournament books. So “same era” refers to the early 2000’s (2003 through 2009 roughly). Poker theory has advanced in that time, but I still think there is a lot of good content here.

How to Win at Omaha High-Low Poker
Mike Cappelletti

This is the Bible when it comes to Omaha HiLo. Cappelletti was formerly a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice. He is also a well known bridge player who has represented the United States in international competition.

A lawyer, a bridge player, was he any good at Omaha Hi/Lo ? I never seen him at any tournaments …

Unfortunately, Mike Cappelletti passed away in 2014. He frequently wrote for CardPlayer, playing mostly ring games.

I once played a tournament against the best poker books in the world. All of them timed out and folded every hand.

Poker books are written by top tier players who are playing other top pros. Books build a solid foundation, but don’t be surprised when a lot of what you read fails in its application when playing casual players. It’s all about the application.

Read some, sure.

Then play more, observe more, adapt more… write your own books.


I agree up to a point. Books are not useful unless they are addressing exactly the same kind of game that you are playing. Also a book is only as good as its reader is good at interpreting and implementing the ideas discussed.

I do find that Snyder’s books on tournaments are extraordinarily useful, because they seem to match up to the higher denomination RP tournaments.

By the way, your tip on how to adjust the amount of bets on RP by tapping the slider has been invaluable, and I have been on a winning streak since that discovery. Won back to back MTTs the day before yesterday, one MTT yesterday, one MTT tonight, and then finished third in the Widow’s Bite 5 million chip buy-in tonight after leading most of the final table and picked up consolation prize of 15 million, hit a new chip total high, and a new high in the RP rankings. So thanks.

So I could say that the most valuable tips of all come from reading this forum. I think I can reasonably say that I would not have won those tournaments if I was still playing just with the half pot and pot sized bets, but I suppose playing just with the presets is good training.

The problem with most books is that they probably address a different form of the game from what you are playing. I was berated by a top tournament player tonight because I called a preflop shove from AK with Q8 and won, but I pointed out that although AK is indeed the better starting hand, the disparity in stack sizes (he small, me big) made the bet worthwhile, and that anyway I had two live cards.

Most players on RP live and die by AK. If they shove those cards preflop and everyone folds, they proudly show off their cards. If their AK is cracked, then they sometimes depart throwing barbs about fish and donkeys calling the mighty AK with pocket 4s and 5s as if this is some form of lese majesty.

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Everyone has a book out about poker. You can only learn so much from a book because every situation is different because no one speaks about a players “ free will “ and “ common sense “ doesn’t anyone feel that experience is the best teacher ?

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Yes, absolutely. I am sure you did not win your billion chips by following instructions from a book. But where are you going to learn to play poker? From videos? I find books a lot more useful than videos.

But then I was watching a video the other day of, maybe, a semiprofessional player playing in a $1000 buy-in online tournament and finishing in the money, and the guy is mentioning all kinds of fairly sophisticated concepts as if they were common knowledge, and he must have learned it from somewhere. Perhaps if you grow up in Las Vegas and misspend your entire youth at the poker tables, then you just absorb it from the air.

Can’t find that video now, but it featured a rather chubby, rosy-cheeked young man. Will post a link if I find it. It was on my phone a couple days ago.

But, yes, you can learn a hell of a lot from experience and from trial and error, but then if you can find the same ideas in a book, then the material is more organized and sometimes the author provides further development and tweaks for the ideas discussed.

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Thank you for responding but what are we talking about actually, learning online or live poker tips from books. Huge difference in two different settings.

Just on the general value of books on poker: personally, I’ve found them hugely valuable. But I do think it takes a deep reading of a book, where you are asking “why” almost every sentence, and thinking about how ideas apply, or don’t apply, in various contexts… nothing really works that well as a recipe: follow these instructions and win all games. But as you get to the point where you are able to freely substitute ingredients, and can integrate the different components in a balanced manner while making subtle shifts everywhere based on the larger menu you’re preparing, and the ingredients available, then some tasty dishes emerge.


What do you think is the best way to learn and improve your poker game, other than just OTJ (on the job) training?

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I guess since I’ve exhausted everything learning online and live the last step would be actually taking that 1 week intensive poker workshop for $10,000 and actually playing with the pros all week and learning with Doug Polk and Ryan Fee.

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That would be rather expensive compared to a book for playing on RP.

All of this for play money poker?
The 3 books I would recommend are the the series “Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand At A Time”.