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Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Player (Read 2808 times)
Five Fingers
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Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Player
May 3rd, 2006, 8:13pm
By Anthony Holden  

Read this book? What did you think?
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The Lawman
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Re: Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Pla
Reply #1 - Nov 20th, 2006, 10:19pm
This book delivers exactly what it says on the cover: 'one year as a professional poker player'. In it Anthony Holden chooses to cover the year between the "Big One' at the WSOP in '88 - '89 for his experiment in the world of pro gambling. As a proficient journalist (for example he was a columnist for the Times) and author he is well equipped to record his exploits.
This was an interesting time for poker, it being pre internet and when the game was just gaining mass appeal but was still unspoiled by over development. The fact that he enters the WSOP 'Big One' in a field of just 167 players and takes his seat on a table with Stu 'The Kid' Ungar and Telly Savalas shows how the dream really was alive and well back then. $10,000 or a satellite win could put the man in the street next to a poker legend or famous celebratory and give him a chance at glory whereas now, although that dream still exists, you're more likely to find yourself on a table with 9 other internet unknowns in a massive 'lottery' field than sat next to a former World Champ. The period also bridged the gap between the 'old school' gamblers such as Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim and Johnny Moss et al and the new wave of younger players who were beginning to emerge, some from Europe.
Holden's account of his foray into the world of the 'road gambler' is well written and very entertaining. His humour and passion for the game can be seen on every page and his turn of phrase seems to emphasise his very British ness. This in itself is an endearing quality of the book, Holden appearing as the quirky 'English Guy' among the Texans and Yanks who dominated the poker world at that time. His approach to their world and his observations of it and the larger than life characters within it from an outsider's perspective are fascinating. His travels do take him into Europe and Holden takes the opportunity to stress the vast difference in style and outlook of the European casinos as opposed to the American ones, a difference that he acknowledges is changing for the better in the preface to the newer editions.
The book along the way also carries neat asides regarding some poker history, playing tips and styles, betting analysis and delves into the psyche behind the game. Holden as a long time player is fully aware of the depth of poker and it's nuances and he frequently examines these whilst taking us on his year long Odyssey. He is eloquent, humorous and very likable as a protagonist and narrator.
Does he win? Pick up a copy of this excellent book to find out. You certainly won't be dissapointed, not by the quality of the read anyway!
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