Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Books I Enjoyed in 2015

This might have been a brutal year in terms of business (see this post (spoiler – we came out on top!)), though that did not stop me enjoying a lot of books. My philosophy on reading is very simple. There is a huge source of wisdom, entertainment and actionable ideas out there in the written form…and I see it as my mission to go out and hunt for the gems.

No novels on the list this year, everything has been practical in one way or the other. The business and misc sections below include my favorites. Since this is a poker website, the 3 poker books I read this year are covered first.

Poker Books Read in 2015

Note, since I only read 3 new poker books, I'm putting them all here, though only the first one is actually a recommendation.

Devilfish – Life and Times of a Poker Legend

Dave Ulliott aka Devilfish was a larger than life character and his death this year was a real shame. This book is a fast moving biography. His early years (life of crime) were crazy, and the early poker years too. The writing style can be too ‘daft’ at times, though the story gets better and better. The first 2 Vegas trips in particular. A great read, it does fizzle towards the end, which is understandable.I still remember this guy from Late Night Poker on Channel 4 (UK), he will be missed.

Moorman’s Book of Poker

I was a little late getting to this one, which was released last year. There was a lot of hype around this book, and I did not feel it lived up to it. The format is someone else playing hands, and then writing about them, with Chris Moorman then adding his own thoughts. Sure, there are some interesting insights into Chris’ thinking… though these are spread throughout a book which feels like it has too much ‘filler’ and too many short stacked situations. Worth a read if you play tournaments, though don’t set your expectations too high.

The Course – Ed Miller

Bought this one on a whim, remembering how much I had enjoyed Small Stakes Holdem (must be 10 years ago!). This book focuses on live cash games and playing the player rather than your cards. It was $30 which felt expensive. Very disappointed with this, really felt like Ed regurgitated his old work with a vaguely new angle. I can’t blame anyone for using their name / ideas to generate some more cash – though I also would recommend you do not waste money on this book.

Best Business Books of 2015

Elon Musk Bio – Ashlee Vance

Fascinating book which was produced (in the end) with Musk’s input. Some surprises including the fact he had a terrible childhood and moved alone to Canada to start fresh about as soon as he could. The sheer tenacity of this guy, along with the grand visions shines through. Not sure this is a ‘learn from’ book (maybe never to give up?), though it is a very entertaining  read. Impossible not to respect this guy, whatever his ‘quirks’, when you read what he went through to get to today’s situation.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz

Enjoyed this one so much that I read it twice. This is the story of Ben Horowitz, founder and CEO of Loudcloud and Opsware during the dot com bust of 2001 and after. This book starts with a quick story of those times. After that it steps back to a gritty ‘lessons learned’ format, going through the toughest decisions, mistakes made and advice for wanna-be CEOs. Simply an amazing read, and one which I’ll return to for a 3rd reading in a year or two.

Blue Ocean Strategy – w Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

This is a classic rather than a new book, though I recommend it none the less. Gambling is the classic ‘red ocean’ where the participants are fighting each other for a set market, and margins are getting shaved as a result. Blue Oceans are new markets where you expand the horizons of your area, bringing in new demand and enjoying huge profits as a result. Circ de Soleil (disrupted the world of circuses) are a great example, iPhones a more recent one. This book provides a framework for assessing and implementing this strategy… I had a lot of ideas stemming from this. If anyone wants to invest $10 million, lets talk!

The Everything Store – Brad Stone

Story of Amazon from the very beginning, and what a story it is. While I have no personal desire to emulate Bezos, Musk et al, the way these guys overcome adversity and drive their businesses is always insightful. With Blue Origins now in play, I have a feeling that Bezos’ story is only just starting – another guy with a difficult childhood too.

Misc Books from 2015

Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

Now, I’m already a student of cognitive biases, irrational thinking and generally fascinated by how stupid the majority of the human race is… and this book is the classic in this space. A wonderful journey (backed by a lot of research on advertising and psychology), this book highlights just how amazingly irrational we are. Read it, you’ll be amazed how many of the situations you recognize in yourself and others.

Antifragile – Nasseem Taleb

I have been a fan of Taleb since The Black Swan, and this book is another gem. Not the easiest read (he really does labor the point about closed off academics!) though the core concept is wonderful. Taleb is seriously well read and draws from history, philosophy and literature all the way through. I’ll give you a clue, the opposite of fragile is not actually ‘robust’, there is something better / different to that.

Mastering the Money Game – Tony Robbins

Sure, Robbins may be a caricature in many ways – though both is style and his insights are excellent. I’ll get to one of his live courses one of these days, though in the meantime this book is worth a read. What it really lays out for me is how much of the upside of investment bets is given to the banks / investment companies while we take every damn cent / penny of the downside! An eye opener that will make you ditch managed funds and start to think about your tax breaks and paying yourself first.

Anyone got a recommendation for a good read, please feel free to add it to the Facebook Group!

GL at the tables,


PS: Don't forget the brand new section of SNG Planet focusing on the entertaining world of Real Money Online Casinos


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