The world of poker is getting larger and doesn’t seem to be close to the end of its growth spurt. More people are playing, more states and nations are in action and it seems more people are writingHoward Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," is the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he has held since 1979. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry. Howard's website is www.gamblersbook.com about the game now than they did at any time in history. So--what's new? This month it’s two new books which detail the characters, places, attitudes, strategies and lifestyles of players and what brings them to the table again and again.
Hunting Fish -- A Cross-Country Search for America's Worst Poker Players by Jay Greenspan (226 pages, hardbound, $22.95) and Getting Lucky -- The Education of a Mad Poker Player (308 pages, paperbound, $17.95) are hot off the griddle, and each should appeal to those who want to live dangerously with a big pile of chips and a gold bracelet at the end of the rainbow.
The Brooklyn-based Greenspan has a wry sense of humor. When he speaks about poker and his own adventures around the green felt tables he sounds a bit like the late Rodney Dangerfield. But he's uniquely-talented in that he understands the ups and downs, the dark side, the bright side, the superstitions of players and their mental approach to the game. He played in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Foxwoods, Tunica, Dallas, New Orleans, Biloxi, Los Angeles, San Diego, South Carolina and Georgia among other places. His experiences, adventures, observations of what makes a good player, how bad players enhance the lives of good ones, seemingly forever, make this diary-biography combination a fine read. He's able to capture the essence of poker at its highest and lowest levels and had a knack of making sense out of a world seemingly gone wild over a game that's American-born but now international in appeal.
Getting Lucky (The author also wrote Diary of a Mad Poker Player.) is from a British journalist with a fine sense of humor. A master of tongue-in-cheek, Sparks takes us to the biggest tournaments, into the hearts and thought processes of world class players--what they think is important--what skills they possess and diagrams some of the class acts and internal thought processes of those who have faced some of the biggest pressure decisions in the history of the game.
Along the way you'll meet them all -- the dreamers, the arrogant, the men with what might be called "X-Ray eyes" (because of their ability to seemingly see into your mind or into the cards you so desire to be hidden from others. There are tips about developing talents, and as I am, amazed at the ability of those big-time pros to remember so many hands, wins losses, bad beats and funny happenings of years past.
The book might be, in a way, a compendium of actions, reactions, philosophies and attitudes of some of the biggest names in poker--what got them to the high level they play and an understanding of why they'll probably be playing, win or lose, for the rest of their lives--a decision some of this generation's players may face on their own one day.
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