Saturday, July 16, 2005

Well, unforunately, I don't have much to update.

I had plans of pokerpokerpoker all week, but that hit the fan when I got sick for three days. Third time I've been sick in the last nine months, too, after going nearly six years having nothing worse than the sniffles. I'm starting to get worried that my iron constitution is breaking down.

So yeah, no Bellagio for me, heck almost no PartyPoker (I did manage to squeeze in a few hours), that's how bad I was feeling. With nothing much to do, I did manage to catch up a little on my reading.

First up was Matt Matros' The Making of a Poker Player. Not a bad read. It's geared more towards beginning players, what with a hand-ranking chart and detailed explanations on how exactly to play hold 'em and Omaha, etc, but ultimately it's a poker-autobiography as Matt takes the reader step-by-step through his development as a poker player. Even as someone who has gone through many of the same steps (okay, I've yet to win $700,000 in a major televised tournament, but I can relate to most other steps), I found the book enjoyable.

It definitely has its weak points (for example, most of the characters in the book are cardboard cutouts--none is brought to life very well), but the positives well outweigh the negatives. Matros matter-of-factly and honestly takes the reader through his poker journey without relying on forumlaic storytelling and/or over-sensationalizing the topic (as other books have done).

Definitely worth the $10.

Next was Barry Greenstein's brand new book, Ace on the River. Greenstein's book has a much different audience in mind than Matros'. Whereas Matros was writing for relative beginners and anyone else interested in a poker narrative, Greenstein's book is aimed specifically at professionals and those seriously considering making the leap. It does include a brief recap of his poker story, as well as anecdotes from his nearly-40 years of serious play, but most of the book is him giving his tips and advice on all different aspects of being a professional--there's certainly a lot more involved than simply being able to play cards well.

While there are quite a few hand discussions towards the end of the book, most of the book deals more with the psychological side of being a poker professional. Chapter titles include "Attitude of a Poker Player," "Traits of Winning Poker Players," "Psychology of Gambling," "Holding on to Money," and "Poker and your Family."

The book is of very high quality, printed on very high quality paper, with many full-page, full-color photographs. If anything, though, the extreme high quality of its production serves to highlight the books main flaw--the lack of substance in a fair number of the chapters. More than once, there is a two-page full color photo serving as the heading for a chapter, which ends up being, well, two pages which are broken up by additional photographs--for example, chapters 8, 9 and 10, "Brain Chemistry," "Integrity," and "Getting Your Education," are all brief, a total of 12 pages between them, but even then, from eyeballing it, they contain no more than about four total pages of actual written content. For someone who spends so much time on the psychological aspects of poker, it seems a bit ironic that Barry would release a book that at times seems to be barely more than a picture book--not a good psychological reaction for someone who just plunked down $25 for it.

Although some of the chapters are depressingly brief, overall the book is great. I found the collection of quotes that accompany each chapter nearly worth the price of the book alone. He has a fair number of hands towards the end of the book that I enjoyed greatly, especially his collection of tournament hands, which as someone who is (for some inexplicable reason) trying to get more proficient at touraments, I found invaluable.

Overall, I highly recommend the book to anyone. Much of the material might not be all that interesting to more casual players (expect perhaps those with an academic interest in what makes a successful profesional gambler), so someone who fits into that category might want to borrow the book from a friend rather than plunk down their own money for it, but ultimately I think there's something in there for poker players at any level, with a lot of matieral in there for those serious, aspiring professionals.

As an aside, I experienced one personally-entertaining moment while reading the book. On page 60, Greenstein writes,

Knowing the value of money is negatively correlated to being a good poker player. I have never heard anyone say, "He is not afraid to bluff for his last dollar, but he is a careful shopper."

Why that's so funny, at least to me, is that the day before I was in the mall. I was in the mall because I had lost my phone charger and my phone's battery had just died. I had looked online and found a charger for $7, shipped, but that would take a few days. I was willing to pay the $10 or $12 or even $15 the mall would charge me to have it immediately.

Well, I finally found one and asked the sales lady how much it was.




"But online they're $5 plus shipping!"


And so off I went empty-handed, back home to order one online and go phoneless for three days. It's the principle, dammit!

But yeah, I guess I'll have trouble ever being a good poker player...


Blogger Felicia :) said...

Great review.

I just posted something like it at my blog.

8:05 PM  
Blogger eric said...

Hi felicia,

I swear I didn't plagiarize! ;)

4:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

best regards, nice info » » »

2:51 AM  

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