There has been an explosion in recent years in the number of poker books that are out there. Many players, especially newer ones, often wonder which ones are best to read. While it is certainly beneficial to focus on the better ones, that alone isn’t enough. You really need to approach the books you read with the proper thinking in order to really benefit.
The key to getting the most out of reading poker books has always been to look to them as tools not merely to instruct, but to develop and increase the quality of one’s poker thinking. Poker is a very complex game, and in order to play it very well, we must not just learn some moves or series of moves like in chess, we must instead learn processes of evaluation to be able to assess properly the countless multitudes of situations we encounter at the poker table.
The first step in this process is to look to become a critical reader, in other words, to not just read the material and absorb it, but to evaluate it and come to our own conclusions. Perhaps the writer’s insights are correct, and perhaps not, something you need to not just take for granted but to instead decide on. Maybe we can even come up with better approaches to the strategy and problems discussed.
By our thinking about the material though, we will more readily come to a better understanding of it, and it is understanding and not merely instruction which will permit us to make significant improvements to our poker game. Few readers, or video watchers for that matter, fully allow themselves to do this, since so many players are just looking for some tips and may not want to make the effort required to get the most out of poker instruction.
If you are willing to make this effort though, in time, you will get something even from the worst poker books. You will understand in a fairly deep way why they are bad, and what could have made them better. Similarly, when you read a great one, you will really understand why it is great and maybe even develop some great insights of your own.
So the more actively you read, the more you will get out of it. You aren’t going to go from a passive reader to a sharp one just by attempting this, as these skills take time to develop, but by choosing to do more thinking, you have taken the necessary first step toward approaching the poker books you read not as a reader, but as a player.