Daniel Negreanu: “Only Elite Players Can Write the Best Poker Books”

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Before the rise of online poker, aspiring pros were hard-pressed to find reading material to help improve their game. But after Chris Moneymaker’s seminal 2003 WSOP Main Event victory, poker exploded in popularity and suddenly players had a wealth of books, training videos, and strategy articles to choose from.

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Six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu (pictured) was one of poker’s first superstars and has penned two books on Hold’em strategy. With over $30 million in live tournament winnings and a host of other accolades to his name, not many would argue that the Toronto native isn’t one of the best poker players of all time. Negreanu, however, believes that poker players should be wary of books written by “so-called pros” who offer “expert” advice without having proven themselves to be long-term winning players.

“While there may be plenty of genius football or golf coaches that never reached the elite level as a player, only the elite players themselves can write the best poker books and provide the best training videos,” Negreanu wrote on his blog. “It’s not really possible to be a mediocre or losing poker player, but also be an elite poker coach.”

That statement implies something of a paradox – the best poker players in the world are seemingly making much more money playing poker than they would by writing a book. What’s more, highly successful pros would be forced to reveal their winning strategies, something that many grinders are keen to do. “The truth is, many of the best poker books will never be written,” added Negreanu.

He makes a distinction between poker strategy books and books that focus on improving a player’s mindset at the tables. “The writers of these [psychology] books don’t need to be elite poker players,” he said. “They need to excel only in understanding psychology, what helps players be at their best, and what causes them to fail. They don’t give you the answer to how AQ should be played against a raise.”

Like in any other discipline, some of the world’s top poker players have never even read a book on poker strategy and instead possess a natural ability at the tables. High-stakes pros like Patrik Antonius and Viktor Blom have revealed in interviews that they have never read such books and rely solely on their own judgment.

For players considering buying training videos or books, Negreanu recommends asking yourself the following: “Who is the author and what are their credentials? Are they successful with the strategies they are teaching today? If they can’t provide any relevant concrete credentials that are applicable to today’s game, you would be foolish to trust in their material.”

In the early 2000s when poker was booming and fish were plentiful, it was far easier to be a winning poker player than it is now. These days, even the most inexperienced poker players have a higher base level of knowledge of the game and are not as easily taken advantage of. That means players who were making a good living in the softer games of the past might not even be winning players in the same limits today.

“There are books on the market today that would actually make you a worse poker player if you followed their advice,” cautioned Negreanu. “There are plenty of frauds out there because there really isn’t a basis to verify an author’s credentials unless they release their personal poker records over an extended period of time.”

While often known to name and shame people with whom he disagrees, Negreanu didn’t point out anyone in particular. He simply wants players to verify that the product they pay for has been created by a time-tested winning player.

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10 COMMENTS

    • Change that to “Only elite players can “SELL” a book.”

      I could write a poker book if I wanted, but no one would buy it.

    • Since being an elite player involves knowledge of the game and the ability to execute that strategy (mental game stuff).So in theory one can have more than enough knowledge about poker to write an excellent book, especially if they can convey their ideas well.However he is correct in saying that there are tons of frauds out there. The only way to really protect yourself from that is to rely on information that is rooted in math or rely on information from people that have a long track record of being winning players. Not players that have recently become elite. I personally would also stray away from people that are only live players. Since the sample size is often small with live tournaments its hard to know who the true elite players are. I’m sure many of us have played with some of these pros that have binked a few big tourneys and have not been impressed with there play.Ideally if I was going to pick a poker book, I’d want it to be written by an author that has won both online and live, rooted in math and is a good writer. These conditions are the best but not required for a good poker book.

    • That’s kind of like saying a coach or manager can’t be very good unless they were a great player and that’s a load of horseshit.

    • That’s kind of like saying a coach or manager can’t be very good unless they were a great player and that’s a load of horseshit.

      No it isn’t, poker is a mind game, not a physical sport.

    • Or you can be a very successful player and put out a sh1tty poker book. ie. Negreanu’s book Power Hold’em Strategy.(although probably a better example would be Helmuth’s books… ‘Eagle’, ‘Elephant’, ‘Jackal’, lol).

    • I always thought Phil Gordon was a great teacher and enjoyed his books .

      I get what Negreanu is trying to say but I would buy a new Phil Gorden book well before a Hellmuth or Negreanu book .
      I think most elite players use feel and instinct to a large extent , how do you teach this?
      They say Ted Williams was a horrible coach because Hitting came so naturally to him that he couldn’t understand how others could struggle in something that came so easily to him.

    • In a sea of dumb shit this guy says, this is probably the dumbest. Having knowledge and being able to apply it are two different things. If someone is good at explaining the math, situational awareness, and psychology of poker then that person will probably be a much better teacher, then an “elite” player who doesn’t have the ability to dumb down their material so that it is consumable. Ask an expert how to approach a problem and they will give you an answer. Ask a teacher the same question and they will teach how to solve the problem on your own.

    • I always thought Phil Gordon was a great teacher and enjoyed his books .

      I get what Negreanu is trying to say but I would buy a new Phil Gorden book well before a Hellmuth or Negreanu book .
      I think most elite players use feel and instinct to a large extent , how do you teach this?
      They say Ted Williams was a horrible coach because Hitting came so naturally to him that he couldn’t understand how others could struggle in something that came so easily to him.

      Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player to ever play. He coached for 4 years, missed the playoffs each year. New coach took over, 3 straight years in the playoffs.