It’s much longer than usual, running at 45 minutes. With ten books on the agenda, that’s about 4 to 5 minutes of discussion per book — hardly enough time given the depth and complexity of some of these master works.
Think of a low-budget (make that “no-budget”) Brian Lamb’s BOOK TV program on C-SPAN, which is a full one-hour discussion. That’s what I was going for with this video.
I’m frequently asked which are my favorite poker books.
Surprisingly, I get this question more often from non-players, than players. I think that’s because there’s still a fair amount of curiosity, even intrigue, when it comes to poker — especially among those who don’t play regularly and know little about the game, or the people in it.
That said, there’s a difference between the “best” poker books and those which have had the greatest impact on the game and how it’s widely perceived. Certainly, there’s some crossover too, but the most meaningful poker books are those rare few texts which broadened poker’s mass appeal and gave us a greater understanding of things we didn’t know before. A meaningful poker book challenges old assumptions we once held and reshapes our vision. This applies to the way others look at the game and they way we see ourselves. The best authors even took risks and made sacrifices in pursuit of new subject matter and came to unexpected conclusions.
Indeed, to make my list, the book had to represent a historical breakthrough. Yet, considering poker’s long and rich history which traces way back to the foundation of the republic, including all the colorful characters who have partaken in its enticement, it’s puzzling as to why an abundance of great non-fiction narratives about poker don’t exist. By “narrative,” I mean a book which chronicles events which actually happened.
After reviewing the many books I’ve read over the years (and I think I’ve covered all the major titles), here’s my list of the most important non-fiction books ever written about poker. I’ll proceed in reverse order, starting with the “honorable mention” category, ultimately leading up to my top choice.
Additional Note — I wish to emphasize these books are all narratives. Strategy books are not included and probably deserve a separate list. Moreover, works of fiction could be another category.
The typical “Poker Night in America” production meeting.
We just completed our fourth “Poker Night in America” television shoot, this time at Maryland Live Casino. It’s located about halfway between Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD.
Although I spent 12 years in the area — this was new experience for me. Back when I lived here, more than a decade ago, there were no legal casinos. There were no public poker rooms. Every poker player who lived in the National Capitol area was forced to commute up to Atlantic City (three hours away), usually on weekends.
Well, times have changed. Consider this. In terms of sheer volume (overall number of games per week), Maryland Live Casino is now the second-busiest poker room in North America. The Commerce Casino in Los Angeles is still the biggest, by far. Maryland’s position is impressive, especially for a poker room that’s been open for less than a year.
Of course, Maryland Live Casino has a lock on all the poker action stretching all the way from Northern Virginia (a sprawling urban area), the District, Mongomery County, Prince George’s County, then all of Baltimore City and the suburbs, all the way up to near the Delaware border. That’s about 6-7 million people within a two-hour drive. The casino is jammed, especially on weekends.
The name Avi Rubin isn’t likely to ring any bells. That is, unless you’re familiar with the specialized field of advanced computer systems and network security. Then, his name triggers alarm bells. Perhaps even a giant gong.
Rubin is a Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He’s one of the world’s foremost authorities on what’s commonly known as “hacking.” Although most people don’t know his name — which is all perfectly fine with Rubin — he’s one of those rare individuals who really does “make a difference” in our society. He impacts each of our lives in many ways on a daily basis, even though very few among us could identify him in a crowd.