Few people know that there are a wide variety of novels with poker in their plot and many of them are excellent. When not playing online poker, studying poker, or mixing it up at a brick and mortar live poker venue, reading a good poker novel is a great way to spend your downtime.
That is why we’ve made some selections of what we think are the best poker novels for you to read and enjoy at home, on a trip or on vacation.
Here are the poker novels I enjoyed the most and recommend you to read:
“The Only Way To Play It” – Peter Alson
It tells the story of Nate Fischer, a former painter who begins to play the clandestine cash games in the clubs of New York City, those shown in the movie “Rounders”. He must try to balance the game with raising a young daughter, as well as his father with whom he does not have a great relationship. You can check out Cardplayer Lifestyle’s review, by Amanda Botfeld.
“CARDS” – Jonathan Maxwell
A must read for cash game players. It shows the harsh reality of those who spend the whole day in casinos playing live tables fighting against variance. The protagonist also takes trips to Las Vegas and to France, where he plays at the Aviation Club in Paris. You can check out Cardplayer Lifestyle’s interview with the author, by Ben Saxton.
“Shut Up and Deal” – Jesse May
Published in 1998, it is one of the most classic, realistic and recommended poker novels. The main character is Mickey, who tries to make a living from playing cards and, to do so, he grinds through long sessions in the casinos of Atlantic City, California and Las Vegas.
“King of a Small World” – Rick Bennett
Joey is one of Maryland’s best live players in Washington. But his life will change when he is offered to become the boss of a casino, a rival commits suicide and his ex-girlfriend gets pregnant. Realistic and entertaining. The digital edition is only $3.
“The Cincinnati Kid” – Richard Jessup
The novel on which the classic 1965 movie starring Steve McQueen was based. I think it is one of the best poker movies of all time and the book is almost always better than the movie, so I can’t stop recommending it.
“Drawing Dead” – Rick Fuller
In this funny poker novel, a famous player dies before playing a final table at the WSOP in Las Vegas. The detective will have to get into the Rio Hotel & Casino to investigate the possible suspects and solve the case. You can download this book for free from the author’s website.
“The Big Blind” – Lavie Tidhar
A quick (80 pages) and entertaining read about a nun with poker skills who sneaks out at night with the habit of playing cash games. When the convent is in danger of closing, she enters a major European tournament to try to save it.
“The Dark Side of the Felt” – Tyler Nals
The book I enjoyed most by prolific author Tyler Nals. By reading it you will be able to accompany the protagonist as he plays cash games and illegal tournaments in very dangerous places. Very entertaining, and the first part of a trilogy that was made into a movie script.
“Final Table” – Dan Schorr
This book was published in 2021 and combines different interesting topics such as social networks, sexual abuse, labor relations and a high stakes poker tournament in a disreputable country.
“4 Bullets” – Tylar Nals
The biographical novel tells the incredible story of Costa Rican gambler Steven Thompson, who won $500K in live tournaments, but due to his addictions lost everything and ended up being shot four times for not returning borrowed money.
“Rounders” – Kevin Canty
Did you know that the movie Rounders has its own book? It is based on Brian Koppelman‘s screenplay and adds some facts to the plot, like the ending, where the author writes about what became of Mike’s life after beating Teddy KGB at the New York Club.
“The One Knight Stand” – Marek Garcia
Chuck feels that he is living two different lives: by day he is a diligent student and by night he becomes a great poker player. He will find it difficult to live both lives and will have to choose between poker and studying.
More recommendations: “Broke” – Brandon Adams, “The Picasso Flop” – Vince Van Patten, “Mystical Glasses” – Jack Kregas, “We Run Bad” – John Curry, “This Is Where You Fold” – Robert Needham, “The Home Game” – Liam Teller and “A Poker Story” – Greg Winick.
All of these poker novels can be found on Amazon, both in paper and digital versions, which are cheaper and can be read on any device. I invite you to put aside your social networks for a while and immerse yourself in the pages of a good poker book. Enjoy the reading! 📖