Book Review: Poker Wisdom of a Champion by Doyle Brunson

Today’s post is a review of a poker book, but it’s not a title you typically see cited among the most popular for netting you huge profits. Why, then, am I writing about it? Because I believe that occasionally changing your perspective on poker, or casino games in general, can be very beneficial in your quest to jump to the next level. And this book is quite different from all the others I have read, and teaches its lessons in quite a different manner.

I picked up Doyle Brunson’s Poker Wisdom of a Champion expecting a few entertaining stories and little in the way of solid advice, and while strategy certainly isn’t the focus, many of the book’s lessons can be beneficial in ways you wouldn’t have guessed.

Doyle structures his book into eight sections, each consisting of 4-5 personal anecdotes demonstrating a particular theme. These sections include “A Winning Lifestyle” and “Poker for the Wrong Reasons,” and the anecdotes are all interesting, well-written and subtly humorous. It is first and foremost an enjoyable read for anyone interested in the life and experiences of “Texas Dolly.”

And while you won’t find any serious hand analysis, charts or poker odds here, Doyle’s insight into the psychology of the game and his use of colorful, real-life characters to illustrate his points teach us things that regular poker books don’t.

Doyle addresses concepts such as “outplaying” fish who won’t fold, being driven by emotion and personal grudges and healthy poker attitudes–all vital themes for lower stakes players trying to build a bankroll and endure the coolers and bad beats they encounter at the tables.

We’ve read about tilt prevention a million times, usually in the style of impersonal and matter-of-fact points. And our reaction is a defiant rejection of these tendencies: of course we know the odds and we’d never let emotion take over after taking a bad beat! But the fact is that human nature and optimal poker strategy just about always diverge, and it’s not until we put real names and faces on the situations that we discover how easy it is to fall into these traps.

Brunson’s anecdotes introduce us to a variety of characters who help us understand poker for what it is: a game of people. The cocky and tilty gamblers he skillfully weaves into the chapters symbolize the biggest issues that micro stakes players need to deal with.

You’ll obviously need to supplement this book with other reading material focusing entirely on strategy, but I believe that looking at some strategic concepts from a different, more personal perspective can do a lot of good. That is, assuming you’re honest enough with yourself to recognize there’s something to be learned.

A similar book written by one of today’s top internet pros would be just fantastic.

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