I strongly believe that self development, psychology, motivational and success biography books have a positive impact on your poker mindset. The amazing thing is, that for less than the price of a dinner at a restaurant, you can buy yourself a book and get the best information and insights from some of the greatest minds of the world.
The reason why I started The Poker Mindset was because through the last few years I managed to read over 100 books and I decided to use my knowledge on the topic to help poker players reach their full potential. What I learned is that application and action are the most important aspects of reading self development books. In most of them, there are exercises or thoughtful open-ended questions, that will help you implement what you read about. You will only experience growth when you apply what you learn.
I have read all the books described in this article and all of them made my life and my mindset better in some way. Here are the life-changing books that will improve your poker mindset:
I’ve read this book exactly when I needed it the most, after I got diagnosed with cancer. It is life-changing, it helped me overcome my fears and deal with the uncertainty. The main message of the book is, that worry doesn’t take away your problems, but it does take away your peace.
The book contains effective, practical and science-based solutions to overcome stress, anxiety and worry. I think it’s a must-read book for poker players, especially for players with very low risk tolerance, who can hardly accept losing sessions and the uncertainty that is inherent in poker.
“Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. Remember: Life is too short to be little.” (Dale Carnegie)
This is one of the first self development books I’ve read and it’s also one of the most popular. After re-reading it a couple of times, I can say that it’s one of the books which you can go through many times and always find some new idea.
Napoleon Hill spent 20 years researching and interviewing some of the most successful people in the world (Ford, Woolworth, Edison, etc) to write this book. The contents are very easy to understand and it breaks down the philosophy of self development and success in 13 easy chapters, like: Desire, Faith, Auto-suggestion, Organized Planning, Decision, Persistence or The Subconscious Mind.
“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” (Napoleon Hill)
3. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferris interviewed more than 200 world-class performers on his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The guests range from celebrities like Jamie Foxx or Arnold Schwarzenegger, athletes, businessman to legendary Special Operations commanders and black-market biochemists.
The book is exactly what it says it is: a collection of tools, routines, tips, hacks, beliefs and habits of people, who reached the pinnacle of success in their fields. Reading this book was eye-opening to me, I learned about tricks to increase my productivity, deal with anxiety or to find happiness in life.
“Dig into your fears, and you’ll often find that the mental monsters are harmless scarecrows. Sometimes, it just takes a piece of paper and a few questions to create a breakthrough.” (Tim Ferriss)
4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson is not a regular self development book, it’s almost an anti self-help book. It focuses on finding what’s truly important to you and not giving a f*ck about everything else. It encourages you to limit yourself from mindless distractions, like social media, television, unimportant news or anything that has no meaning or value in your life.
I can’t choose only one quote from the book, because there are too many that I really like. Here are some of my favorites:
“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.” (Mark Manson)
“There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances. We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond. Whether we consciously recognize it or not, we are always responsible for our experiences. It’s impossible not to be. Choosing to not consciously interpret events in our lives is still an interpretation of the events of our lives.” (Mark Manson)
“Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame. Pain is an inextricable thread in the fabric of life, and to tear it out is not only impossible, but destructive: attempting to tear it out unravels everything else with it. To try to avoid pain is to give too many fucks about pain. In contrast, if you’re able to not give a fuck about the pain, you become unstoppable” (Mark Manson)
“We all get dealt cards. Some of us get better cards than others. And while it’s easy to get hung up on our cards, and feel we got screwed over, the real game lies in the choices we make with those cards, the risk we decide to take, and the consequences we choose to live with. People who consistently make the best choices in the situations they’re given are the ones who eventually come out ahead in poker, just as in life. And it’s not necessarily the people with the best cards.” (Mark Manson)
This one is a classic, the first poker mindset book that I’ve read. It contains techniques to play your A-Game more often, regardless of your short-term results. Some of the topics explored are Tilt, Bankroll, Opponents, Downswings and Bad beats.
I think it’s a must read for anybody, who wants to become a successful poker player. The main part of the book is about helping you understand variance and teaching you how to deal with losses.
Remember: The difference between being a successful poker player and a failure is that successful players know how to deal with losses. They don’t get too emotional and think the world is coming to an end. They don’t freak out and start chasing losses. They accept that every now and then everyone makes mistakes and they are determined to learn from their mistakes, because this players understand that failures and losses make them wiser and better.
Note: You can find more recommended books in the article about Ways To Level Up Your Poker Mindset.