Tom M. Mitchell
This book covers the field of machine learning, which is the study of algorithms that allow computer programs to automatically improve through experience. The book is intended to support upper level undergraduate and introductory level graduate courses in machine learning.
These games are pretty easy to store and the rules are much simpler than chess, but there aren't too many people who play. If I can get this idea off the ground it would be great for experimenting Combinatorial Game Theory to see if a computer and find the optimal move.
EDIT: It could be that machine learning is not the right strategy. In that case, what goes wrong? and what is a better way?
Get the book called "Machine learning" by McGraw Hill and read the first chapter. It's extremely well written and the first chapter will teach you enough to make a program that plays checkers. Personally I made a program that plays 5 in a row on miniclip.com, also in python.