March 18, 2006

Poker Karma

I was in for a poker game tonight, but it got cancelled. Probably for the best. I played penny poker with the boys this afternoon and at one point was up quite a bit. But I got sloppy and Justin came back on me, including a bad beat where he cracked my pocket aces with a set of nines. I barely broke even, and I wasn't thinking clearly anyway, tired from an early morning track meet drop off (I can never go back to sleep in the morning once I'm up, sadly).

Ironically, I just finished another poker book today, Barry Greenstein's "Ace on the River". This is an oversized paperback printed on thick photo paper. Every page has a big photo offset or a photo as the background (sometimes making it hard to read). This was originally going to be a chapter in Brunson's "Super System 2", but Barry expanded it to book length. It does feel quite thin.

I really enjoyed the first third of the book, which is mostly Barry's story, including some hands he played and what he learned from them, etc. He talks about why he donates such a large portion of his winnings to charity, but he comes across as modestly in print as he does on TV. The middle part of the book is kind of about poker and life lessons, like how you can learn how to handle money, relationships, etc.

It's hard to take serious advice on this from a professional poker player who, by his own admission, has irresponsibly blown through an awful lot of cash. By the time I was a few chapters into it, I was really just skimming. The last part is a unique feature: several practice hands for no-limit are shown, and Barry puts the opening hand and situation on one page and asks a series of questions, like: What should you bet here after the flop? What would be the best possible turn card for you? The worst? What possible hands do you put your opponent on?

Then you turn the page and find out how Barry played it, and he discusses the answers. I think a whole book worth of this would've been pretty interesting. I would've liked to see more. I got this book for about $15 on Amazon, and that's probably a good price. Given the popularity of poker books, I doubt this will appear on a bargain shelf anytime in the next few years, so this is as cheap as it will get. Worth checking out of the library, if only because it's a good story, lots of pictures, and some neat analysis at the end. Just skip over the middle third.

Posted by Observer at March 18, 2006 08:57 PM

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