The advent of high speed computers processors and the building of poker knowledge from previous data have advanced poker knowledge dramatically in the last 15 years. The game has passed by many top players from the pre-2000 era who haven’t kept on top of the knowledge growth. There is a wealth of poker information out there these days, some good, some bad. It’s much easier to study wise men’s knowledge than figure it out for yourself. Let me recommend the best path to growing your NL game.
First, it’s important to understand the game conceptually. I am not a fan of learning strategies by rote as too many NL situations fall outside standard situations. If you don’t learn how to optimize your play in those situations, you’ll leave a lot of equity on the table. To make those adjustments, you need to understand the game’s concepts.
The basic concepts are in David Sklansky’s “The Theory of Poker. ” As you read this book, think deeply about how these concepts apply to your game. Ed Miller’s “The Course” explains the levels of knowledge you’ll need to grow your game from the 1-2 level up to 5-10. I also think “No Limit Hold’em” by Sklansky and Ed Miller has a good basic knowledge foundation that puts you on the right path. I would read them in that order.
Once you’ve digested those, you’ll want to study poker’s nuances. I’ve signed up and am very much impressed with the video/forum site,RunItOnce.com. It’s run by poker superstar Phil Galfond, and he’s brought in many high-level players who develop videos along with Phil. What many lack in presentation skills is made up for in the quality of information given. You can sign up for two levels, “Essential” and the “Elite.” If you’re not beating the game, start with the Essential. Elite is for those with a deep understanding of the game.
You also need to have the mental strength and demeanor to play well. Alan Schoomaker and Jared Tendler have book series that deal with the mental aspect of the game. You should study these also. Both put out good psychological material. Don’t underestimate the mental game’s importance; it’s huge!
If you’re a live player, you should learn tells. Mike Caro’s book of tells was the first book to deal with the subject and has much good information. I also like Zachary Elwood’s books on tells.
These recommendations are for those developing their game. I’ve excluded some books that I like that I felt were too complex. “Applications of No-Limit Hold’em” by Mathew Janda is the foremost. It’s full of good information, but digesting it takes a high level of poker understanding. I receive nothing from any of these recommendations, all are based on merit.
All that said, this is hundreds of hours of effort. But to become a high quality player, you need to know this information. Make the effort to PREPARE to win, and winning will come. The best poker players, like the best chess players spend endless hours studying their own and their opponents’ games.
You’ll be amazed at the difference this will make in your results!