Little Black Book

Little Black Book

Author: Phil Gordon

Phil Gordon’s Little Black Book is the updated version of Phil Gordon’s first poker book, Poker: The Real Deal.  The Real Deal, published in 2004, has become one of the most popular poker books of the last few years, and can still be purchased in its original incarnation.  The Little Black Book version is part of Phil Gordon’s Poker Box Set, which includes Gordon’s Little Green Book and Little Blue Book.  It was most likely renamed simply to fit in better with the other two books in the set.  There are not many differences in the two editions – the primary difference is a new chapter comprised of four previously published articles.

Gordon dubs this a “poker lifestyle” book, not a “strategy” book.  He does go into strategy, but not nearly as in depth as he does in his other books.  His lessons are basic, staying at a high level.  What Gordon sets out to do in the Little Black Book is to lead readers through what it is like embarking on a poker career.  After tackling the basics (and obviously, anyone wanting to go pro should not stop with the basics), he takes us through home games, how to think like a pro, online poker, and what to expect when taking the plunge in a live casino.  From there, it’s on to higher stakes, tournaments, what the pro life is actually like, and finally a simulated World Series of Poker.  Interspersed amongst the chapters are Gordon’s recommendations for further reading, as well (and no, the recommendations are not his own books).

At each level of experience, Gordon includes a “Defining Moment,” where he presents a scenario to see how well you have absorbed the chapter.  For example, at the end of the “How to Think Like a Poker Player” chapter, you are to decide which seat to take a local golf pro’s $10/$20 home game after observing one hand and listening to the table talk.  Of course, Gordon provides a detailed answer (but don’t peek until you give it a shot). 

Experienced poker players will already know most of the teachings in the Little Black Book, but what has made the book so well received is how Gordon presents the information.  He weaves each strategy lesson, each tutorial, and each narrative into a cohesive story.  This is one of the few poker instructional books that almost reads like a novel.  It actually has a beginning, middle, and end.  And Gordon has a knack for making his books extremely readable, stripping out the tedium and injecting entertainment.  He even teaches you how to put people on tilt, something he gets sick pleasure out of doing. 

If you want to dive head first in to intense poker strategy, skip Phil Gordon’s Little Black Book.  That is not what it is all about.  But if you are interested in how to think like a poker player and what it takes to make your way in the poker world, it is a truly informative and entertaining read.