Sunday, 3 June 2012

Caro's Book Of Poker Tells

Caro's Book of Poker Tells

The Psychology and Body Language of Poker
By Mike Caro

Quick Thoughts

Most poker books will include some discussion of poker tells, typically in a short chapter. Mike Caro's book is dedicated to poker tells and how to consider them as part of your game. It probably goes without saying that this is of little value to the internet only player, but it is worth adding that this book does not consider online poker or the timing and bet size tells that are useful in the online game. Similarly a poker player who is largely a beginner may not get a lot out of this book or may get themselves into trouble by given too much weight to tells they may or may not have read correctly. While some may disagree, beginners are normally better off working on the fundamentals of their own game first before getting into the minutia of how there opponents play. However, for the improving player that spends at least some of there time playing live its probably worth your time to read this book which is widely regarded as a classic. Various reprints have been made, with this review based on the 2010 version. Its worth trying to get the latest version although my understanding is that there are few changes between versions, at least if the very dated photographs are anything to go by.

The classic book on poker tells, four out of five stars if you forgive the dated photographs.


Quite a large book at just over 300 pages in a medium sized softback format. After four short introductory chapters the book splits down into two big chapters with various subsections. The first half of the book considers tells that a player gives away unintentionally, Caro refers to them as "tells from those who are unaware". The second large section where Caro considers "tells from actors", players that are trying to deceive.  The book finishes up with some summary chapters, including a top 25 tells and a photo quiz/test.

Typical Cost

£12.40 to £16.95, $16.47 to $24.95

Additional Thoughts

The concept of how much a tell will gain (or lose) per hour for you at a particular stake is of particular  interest, as is the estimate on the reliability of a given tell. This lets you priorities particular tells or groups of tells that are going to be most profitable rather then agonizing over ambiguous or unreliable tells with little potential to add to your stack. There is a lot of content to this book and you will probably find yourself referring back to this as a reference.

Players that only play texas holdem should note that this book uses examples from a range of different types of poker. However, in general the tells are treated as non game specific and there application in other games can readily be seen.

This book can be useful in two ways; the obvious way is to take into account possible tells that other players are giving, unconsciously or intentionally. However, it is also useful to look at your own game and see if the way you are acting may be giving away information on your hand. Even at a smaller stakes game one or two better players at a table may be paying attention to tells, at least at some level and some of the time.

Share your thoughts on this book with a comment or a star rating.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Phil Gordon's Little Blue Book

Phil Gordon's Little Blue Book

More Lessons and Hand Analysis in 
No Limit Texas Hold'em
by Phil Gordon

Quick Thoughts

Having previously reviewed Phil Gordon's Little Green Book (see here if you have not read this review) and given their popularity; its probably worth looking at another one of Phil Gordon's books. The little blue book differs in approach from the green book, using selected hand histories as a tool for analysis and advice. This is less of a beginners book then the green book, but makes a reasonable follow up to this and other introductory poker books.

Four out of five stars as a good follow up to introductory poker books.


As with the green book this is a nice hard back book. Although the book format is small, at around 400 pages in length it packs in a lot of material. Hand histories are divided into different formats of No Limit Holdem with chapters on cash games, sit and goes and a number of chapters on tournaments. Separating tournament play into a range of chapter is probably a good idea. The chapter on satellites and super satellites is interesting, providing advice specific to the non-standard payout structure of this type of tournament. The other chapters on tournaments considers early, middle and late stage play followed by a chapter that specifically considers the final table of a multi-table tournament.

Typical Cost

£9 to £12.99, $14 to $21

Additional Thoughts

Example hand histories and hand analysis can sometimes come across as contrived, where the author selects (or makes up?) a hand that simply presents the point or advice they want to get across. Phil Gordon goes to some effort to avoid this. The hand examples are from real hands he has played, and being real poker even when played optimally the hands don't always go his way. Similarly he is open about hands he could have played better.

This is a good book for dipping into, perhaps reading through 2 or 3 hands in a short session, or reading one of the chapters in a longer session.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Texas Hold'Em Poker - Win Online

Texas Hold'Em Poker - Win Online

by Paul Mendelson

Quick Thoughts

This is quite a well written and well structured book with some good advice for the new players considering player online poker. It is however quite a short book and only covers topics at a basic level. Unusually for an introductory book it assumes some familiarity with the rules of poker, focusing on the specifics of online poker instead. This is presumably due to space limitations and not wanting to duplicate material covered in Paul Mendelson's other introductory book, Texas Hold'Em Begin and Win.

Overall quite a good book introducing online poker at cheap price. Three stars out of five.


As mentioned above; this book is short at around 125 pages in a small softback. The first two chapters are essentially the initial introduction to online poker. Some may find these first chapter annoyingly basic with this information available on  many websites, such as those run by the bigger online poker sites. However, as a introductory book its probably not a bad idea to cover some of the basics, the reader can always flick past these chapters it they want. The next three chapters cover the main formats of online poker, cash games, one table sit and go's and multi-table tournaments. Tips and strategy specific to these formats are discussed in these chapters. The final chapter addresses miscellaneous tips for online poker. This includes discussion of bad beats (loosing to a player who had a poor starting hand but who got lucky) , which often seems worse and more regular online compared to the live game due to the large number of hands that can be played in a short period online.

Typical Cost

£2.99 to £4.29, $6 to $7

Additional Thoughts

Although this is a small book this is reflected in the price. You can probably read this book in a evening, or alternatively dip into quickly a few times and finish it in a week.

If you are a complete beginner you will probably need to combine this book with another introductory book that covers the basics of poker not addressed here. Phil Gordon's Little Green Book (see the review here) would be a good choice to combine with this book and would see you through from starting out to more advanced play. However, it you want a small cheap book of similar length to this then Paul Mendelson's other book, Texas Hold'Em Begin and Win, is also a reasonable choice.

Upcoming Book Reviews - May/June 2012

A quick update on recent and upcoming reviews.

Reviews have already appeared this month for Gus Hansen's Every Hand Revealed and Poker For Dummies, the next review this month will be Paul Mendelson's Texas Hold Em - Win Online.

Later reviews this month and heading into June will include the following books;

  • Phil Gordons Little Blue Book
  • Caro's Book of Poker Tells - Mike Caro
  • Secrets of Professional Pot-Limit Omaha - Rolf Slotboom

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Poker Bookshelf Listed at Technorati

Poker Bookshelf is now listed at A interesting place to find blogs on a range of subjects.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen

Every Hand Revealed

by Gus Hand 

Quick Thoughts

Most poker books present hand histories and provide analysis of these hands to one degree or another.  This might be one or two chapters, or even most of the book.  However, Gus Hansen's Every Hand Revealed is unique in following a player all the way  through a large tournament to the final table. Gus ultimately won the 2007 Aussie millions and this book describes how he went from playing on day one to the heads up play at the final table on day five. In addition to recording the hands played there is detailed commentary and advice, which provides insight into a player that has an interesting aggressive style of play. This book is not really a beginners book, but most other players will gain something from it, or at least find it interesting.

This book is unique, and more than that is interesting and informative to read. On this basis it gets five stars out of five from me.

Typical Cost

£7 to £12, $10 to $16


A medium sized soft back book of around 370 pages. There is a quick introduction including a nice piece on crucial hands, which is interesting to periodical flick back to as you go through the later chapters. The introduction is followed by chapters covering day 1, day 2, day 3 and day 4 of the tournament. In addition to describing the play on these days each of the chapters has a useful "my advice" section from Gus.  For example chapter 1 has advice on how to approach a tournament from the beginning and chapter 3 has advice on varying playing style between short-handed and full tables.

The final table starts on day five with several chapters dedicated to it. This starts with a chapter covering the full final table of 7 players. Another chapter covers 3 handed play, followed by a chapter on heads up play for first place. Chapter 8 provides advice on various aspects of play through the tournament including limping, continuation bets and bluffing. The book finishes with a few pages providing afterthoughts.

Additional Thoughts

As noted in quick thoughts; this is not a beginners book. It does not provide commentary at a basic level, or play the role of an instructional book. Less experienced players are also likely to get into trouble trying to play an loose aggressive style of poker like Gus Hanson.  Most other players over a wide range of abilities will get something from this book, either by learning from some of the hands or from reading some of the sections that provide advice. This is also a book you may well read more than once and the individual chapters can be dipped into one at a time without having to read the whole book in one go.

If you have read this book share your thoughts with a star rating or a comment.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Poker For Dummies

Poker For Dummies

by Richard Harroch and Lou Krieger

Quick Thoughts

This is not a bad book, and has some good material in it. However, one fault is trying to cover too much material for a book of its size. As a result, in places, it ends up not covering some aspects in sufficient depth. There are chapters on Holdem, Omaha, various stud games and even a chapter on video poker.  Internet poker is touched on but the treatment is very dated. Overall not too bad, but there are better more focused introductory books out there. I picked this up second hand on Amazon, and on this basis it was quite a good buy and an interesting read.

Three stars out of five. Some good material but tries to cover too much in a book of its size.


A medium sized soft back book of around 300 pages. The introductory chapters on poker basics are great for the absolute beginner up to the novice player not sure on a couple of points. The book then goes on to cover the basic rules and strategy for a range of different types of poker, 7 card stud, Holdem, seven card stud 8 or better Hi/Lo and Omaha. Other topics covered include home game poker, tournament poker, and importantly bank roll management and record keeping. Video poker is also covered in one chapter, should you be curious on how this relates to the poker you play at the table or online. 

Having considered the basics the book provides various additional chapter ranging from strategy advice to advice on tells. The final chapters in the book are in the 10 tips format popular in the dummy books. These include ten reads (and tells), ten poker legends, ten keys to success, ten tips before going pro, ten ways to improve, and ten real life poker lessons. An additional nice touch for an introductory book is a short chapter on further reading.

Typical Cost

£7 to £14.99, $13 to $17, available a lot cheaper second hand.

Additional Thoughts

Most people will consider the treatment of internet poker in this book as very dated, which is unsurprising given the first published date for this book.

The overview of other forms of poker other then holdem is a nice aspect to the book. If you are a holdem player thinking about playing an additional form of poker this might be worth a read before buying a more specialist book on the form of poker that interests you.

If you have read this book please share your star rating. Also let us know if you have any comments on the book.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Upcoming Reviews - May 2012

Just a quick update on upcoming book reviews for May. As follows;

  • Texas Hold'em poker - Win Online by Paul Mendelson
  • Every hand revealed by Gus Hansen
  • Poker for Dummies  by Richard Harroch & Lou Krieger
There may be some more reviews posted in May, time allowing. If there are any particular books your interested in let me know via the comments box. I'm happy to prioritize books people are particularly interested.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Breaking News 27th April 2012

Late yesterday evening (UK time) the poker forum run by the publishers 2+2 was closed down. As some of you will be aware the 2+2 forum is one of largest and most active poker forums on the internet. Administrators of this forum have indicated that they took the steps to close the forum due to it being compromised by hackers. They released the following statement;

"On April 26th at approximately 11:20 AM pacific time, the Two Plus Two Forums were closed as a result of a hacker who has displayed the ability to access e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords.  He also indicated the ability to decrypt passwords.

While it is unclear the extent of data to which he gained access, e-mail addresses and passwords on the Two Plus Two forums should be considered compromised.  If you have used your 2+2 password on any other site, you are advised to change it."

It would seem advisable that any user of this forum take steps to change their passwords, etc, in the event of this data being compromised.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Phil Gordon's Little Green Book

Phil Gordon's Little Green Book

Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Holdem

by Phil Gordon

Quick Thoughts 

A nice introductory book with some good coverage of the basics, as well as touching on some more advanced topics. As the title implies this book focuses on No Limit Holdem. The book is strong at the introductory level, however you are likely to need to combine this with other books if you are playing tougher games, especially online.

In my opinion this book gets four out of five stars as a good introductory book on No Limit Holdem. 


A nice small hard back book of just under 300 pages. After introductory chapters the book goes on to cover a range of topics from pre-flop and post-flop play, through to tells and tournament play. Percentages, odds and probability are given a reasonable treatment at quite an accessible level. Important topics such as bank roll management and psychology are also addressed towards the end of this book.

Typical Cost

£8 to £12.99, $15 to $40

Additional Thoughts 

After a reasonable introduction, that a beginning player will appreciate, this book goes on to address pre-flop play.  Especially useful are the pre-flop charts (at the back of the book) recommending hand ranges for some different cases. Although note; the black and white print of charts designed to be in colour is a bit cumbersome.  While some people might want to argue about specifics of pre-flop range; this is a good introduction to this concept and should help with overly loose play (without good post-flop skills) that plagues some beginners in the game.

The chapters on post flop play and tournament poker give a good introduction to these topics within the space provided. The tournament poker chapter gives coverage to tournament specific topics. However, the book may well have benefited from some specific discussion on the differences between cash game and tournament poker.

The chapter on tells, as Gordon notes, is largely based on Mike Caro's book of Poker Tells. However, it's good to see Phil Gordon's take on these tells. This summary on tells also provides more depth to the book and a good starting point without having to read Caro's book straight away. Although as the classic text on tells you are likely to want read this book in due course. I'll get round to a review of Caro's book in due course. Update See this review here.

Online poker is covered in a very short chapter, which unsurprisingly given the age of the book some may feel is dated. As noted in my quick thoughts; if the online game is your focus you will probably want to read this book in conjunction with other books that address online specific topics, such as HUD's, tracking software and table selection.

The book is scattered with quite a few interesting short pieces, such as the don't wear sunglasses to play poker notes, page 230. Overall the style of writing is nice and accessible. Hopefully you will enjoy this book and find it useful in learning, or brushing up on, the fundamentals of No Limit Holdem. This book is also a good choice as a first book on poker while still having some material of interest to the intermediate player.

You can also see a review of another one of Phil Gordon,s books, his  Little Blue Book.

If you have read this book please share your star rating. Also let us know if you have any comments on the book, or if your thinking about buying it.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Introduction to the poker bookshelf

Hello, and welcome to the poker bookshelf 

There are hundreds of books on poker covering different forms of the game and different approaches to becoming a successful player, or at least a competent player. While there are a range of training options, from online videos to personnel coaching, for many of us reading books will be the one of the most useful tools in improving and developing in the game of poker. Of course you also need to play a lot of poker as well. Many, me included, will also find reading about poker interesting and enjoyable in itself. In my blog I'm happy to share my thoughts on poker books I read, enjoyed and learnt from. I'd also welcome you sharing your views on these books and those I've yet to read.

About the blog

I've read quite a few poker books over the last few years and have a large number of these books on my poker bookshelf. No doubt I'll buy more reading material in due course and I currently have my eye on a few new books which are likely to be my next purchases.  Initially in this blog I'm planning to take a look back at books I've previously read. As I work through the books on my shelves I'll also share my thoughts on books I'm thinking of buying as well as letting you know what they are like if I make a purchase.

Hopefully you will find my blog useful. If you have read the books I review let me know your thoughts as well, whether you agree with me or not, let me know what you think. If you have not read the books I mention some of them are certainly worth a look. Hopefully you will enjoy reading them, as I have, and hopefully you will see some benefits in improvement to your poker game.