Details from Audible:

How to Be a Poker Player: The Philosophy of Poker

Initial Thoughts:

I’ve been a poker player over 20 years now, that said I know I’m very much an amateur. I’ve made plenty of efforts to improve, I’ve watched videos, watched the WSOP, High Stakes Poker, lots of interviews, documentaries, played free poker, online for money, in person with friends, at bars and at casinos and of course read and listen to books on poker. This one got a high rating on Audible and sounded different, so I gave it a try.

Main Points:

This is a different kind of poker book. There is not a lot in terms of hand analysis, tournament tips, figuring out value bets and other strategies. What is here is an overall guide in how poker players think and act both at the table and away from it.  I did a minor in Philosophy at university and I haven’t read a book on it in a long time, so I appreciated all the tips he gives on being healthier and productive both as a poker player and overall as a human being.

To be honest the one chapter that he does get really technical with stuff like expected value and betting patterns, I found that despite all my knowledge and experience (which I’ll admit isn’t huge as their isn’t a casino where I live) it went way over my head and got very complicated. Haseeb does give a warning before the chapter though and says that this part if for experienced players (which I thought I was).

In terms of the production, excellent sound quality and the author has a great speaking voice. It’s always nice to have an author read their own material and it often feels at time that it’s just Haseeb chatting with you rather than a book (which is a good thing!). I’m a slow listener and it took me months to get through this but that certainly doesn’t mean the book was too long.

While I found most of his advice excellent (I should get back into meditating) I am forced to disagree with him on an the end. He says that if you have never been obsessed with poker than you will never be a poker player and that you should, in fact, quit! I suppose he could mean I’ll never be a professional poker player and that I’ll admit it true. Still I think this is a serious flaw, I’d bet 80-90% who read his book will never turn pro, so he is effectively trying to discourage people from playing poker at all. He doesn’t know me and as poker is just a hobby for me (and will remain so) it has no negative effect on my family, social life, marriage or bank account, I have never had a problem quitting when I’m down.

Final Thoughts:

I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy this book, for the most part I really did. He also gives great tips on dealing with downswings, managing your bankroll, dealing with tilt (both yourself and other players) and how to get in the right mindset to play poker. I do, however, don’t think there’s anything wrong with playing poker and having the goal of winning money. Yes you’re supposed to be enjoying the game but, for me anyway, I enjoy it a lot more when I’m winning. So I do recommend this book to anyone who is serious about poker, though perhaps skipping the chapter on expected value, just be prepared to take parts of it with a grain of salt. This is one of the best poker books I’ve listened to and I will even be contacting the author (as he asked everyone to). I was really fascinated when he got into a discussion about happiness and money. The fact that most lotto winners (like 80%) lose are their money within a few years and become miserable is both sad and fascinating. I agree with him that there is certainly a point where money (if you have enough to not even work) has no meaning and is no longer your goal in life (by that I mean you need it to travel, pay bills, look after your spouse/family). There certainly is the trap that someone who has money only wants more and can never truly be happy. I agree that within reason you should be happy with what you have (not discarding ambition) rather than always wanting more. This book is suitable for any age but unless you are some kind of poker savant, I would say ages 25+ just because you need to play a lot of poker to get the most of out this.