10 books directly related to game theory 📚

All 10 game theory books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets

By John McMillan,

Book cover of Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets

Why this book?

The right thinks markets are the magic solution to all problems; the left thinks they only let the rich exploit the poor. As always, the truth is more subtle. With rich details of how actual markets operate around the world, well grounded in modern economic theory of information and incentives, and written in a beautifully simple and engaging style, McMillan tells it like it is and explains why. If you have time to read only one book on economics, make it this one.


The Strategy of Conflict

By Thomas C. Schelling,

Book cover of The Strategy of Conflict

Why this book?

This is the book that brought game theory to life. Eschewing dry mathematical theorems, and conducting rigorous logical analysis through rich examples of strategic use of threats, promises, and brinkmanship in real life, Schelling opened up a whole world of practical applications of the theory. My own thinking and writing about game theory owes a huge debt to Schelling. You should also read his “Arms and Influence,” “Micromotives and Macrobehavior,” and “Choice and Consequence.”


Modern Poker Theory: Building an Unbeatable Strategy Based on GTO Principles

By Michael Acevendo,

Book cover of Modern Poker Theory: Building an Unbeatable Strategy Based on GTO Principles

Why this book?

This is perhaps the best poker book of the last ten years and the first great book of the GTO era. If you are a player who has been intimidated by solvers this is the best primer on what they have taught us in recent years. By no means an easy book to read, but a must for any serious player's bookshelf.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

By Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner,

Book cover of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Why this book?

Levitt is a pioneer of, and among the most successful users of, techniques of data analysis to identify causes and effects in economics. This book, based on work that won him the Clark Medal, the economics profession’s premier prize for young researchers, gives us surprising, quirky, and delightful insights into the workings of many economic, political, and social phenomena.


The Origins of Unfairness: Social Categories and Cultural Evolution

By Cailin O'Connor,

Book cover of The Origins of Unfairness: Social Categories and Cultural Evolution

Why this book?

O’Connor’s Origins of Unfairness uses game theory to provide “how possibly” models for how systemic discrimination and unfair conventions arise. Game theory offers a powerful tool for Realpolitik analysis, which is analyzing states of affairs that reflect agents’ material interests coupled with their power to realize them. Populations with two groups will likely end up in asymmetric conventions as divisions of labor result, and the sharing of rewards is unequal. Grasping the implications of this analysis is crucial for those seeking to go beyond the entrenched interests governing neoliberal political economy. O’Connor provides some remedies in her final chapter, and these incorporate moral awareness and a sense of responsibility.


Video Games Save the World

By Heather E. Schwartz,

Book cover of Video Games Save the World

Why this book?

So games just may help solve the world’s problems. Let’s share the news with everyone, including kids! Video Games Save the World does just that. It uses kid-friendly language, examples, and illustrations of how gaming is helping us make positive change. For instance, it talks about the fantastic organization Games for Change, and all different types of games including indie games and VR games.


Where Are the Customers' Yachts? Or a Good Hard Look at Wall Street

By Fred Schwed,

Book cover of Where Are the Customers' Yachts? Or a Good Hard Look at Wall Street

Why this book?

This book is over 60 years old but so relevant today! The headline involves a brokerage firm customer looking at all the yachts owned by stockbrokers, hence the question in the title. A well-known writer friend of mine put it another way: “The broker made money, his investment firm made money, and two out of three ain’t bad.” I love this book that zeroes in on the conflict brokers have between their own interests and the interests of their clients.


The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal about Being Human

By Noah Strycker,

Book cover of The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal about Being Human

Why this book?

Packing a huge amount of research onto every page, Strycker, who in his 2015 big year logged a record-setting 6,042 bird species, engagingly analyzes the biology and behavior of penguins, magpies, hummingbirds, albatrosses, and more to explore how the lives of birds are simultaneously incredibly alien to and indelibly intertwined with those of humans in activities and emotions as diverse as altruism, dancing, seduction, and fear. His insights, delivered with a light touch, may well change the worldview of those who think that humans are somehow more worthy than any other animal on the planet.


The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Classic Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Problems

By Martin Gardner,

Book cover of The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Classic Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Problems

Why this book?

They say that Plato was not a mathematician but was a maker of mathematicians. The same could be said of Martin Gardner, a prolific author who wrote, among many other things, the “Mathematical Games” column for Scientific American for a quarter of a century. Although all his books are excellent, The Colossal Book of Mathematics is a great entry point to Gardner’s oeuvre. It consists of what Gardner viewed as his 50 best Scientific American columns along with addenda containing updated material on each topic. With topics like topology, geometry, recreational mathematics, the infinite, and probability, each article is an informative, playful, well-written gem. 


A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World

By William J. Bernstein,

Book cover of A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World

Why this book?

A brilliant sweep through the millennia of commerce around the world. If you think globalization happened over the last quarter-century, you are wrong by about 5000 years. Find out how and why.