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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Poker books with some humor mixed with advice have value

14 June 2007

I know; it's kill or be killed at the poker tables. Take the other guy or gals out and you're on your way to riches. For many players, it's the only way to play -- eliminate the competition, take the money and run. However some authors take a little edge off it all. Mixing humor with advice makes for a less-pressured approach to winning and enjoying the game.

Of the more than 300 different poker books now on the shelves of the Gambler's Book Shop, a few previous examples are Poker Humor (A Collection of Poker Wit) by Gary Oliver, Hunting Fish by Jay Greenspan and Poker -- Las Vegas Style by Bulldog Sykes. Two recent arrivals are Inside Poker: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Stories, Reflections and Anecdotes) by Vince Burgio (300 pages, paperbound, $14.95) and Texas Hold Ôem (Tournaments, Cash Games and Embarrassing Social Gas) by Tony Korfman (389 pages, paperbound, $19.95).

Burgio, who loves imaginative titles, also previously penned Pizza, Pasta and Poker: The Private and Public Life of a Professional Poker Player. As solid a family man as you'll find in the business, Burgio, a nice guy, writes about the impact of being a pro -- the stresses, the need to remember your roots and remain humble, the need to keep it all in perspective. Along the way, Burgio (he writes regularly for a poker magazine) talks about the strange traits of other players, superstitions, dealer responsibility, good and bad guys. He's what you'd call an "astute philosopher" in that he's had several decades of table experience and he enjoys people. This book is bits and pieces of advice, experience and adventure. Don't expect a clear avenue of information based on how to get to the final table at the World Series of Poker, but it could assist those who think poker is so all-important that they've temporarily lost their sense of values in a very complicated, often world of pressure.

Tony Korfman previously wrote a series of little books with the Playing to Win angle. This is his first poker book. He's a player (you may have seen him on television).

Regarding style, Korfman may have been influenced by sharp-tongued comedian Andrew "Dice" Clay. Clay's humor is slightly raunchy, and Korfman's book is filled with raunch. If you think you need the "f" word in a book anywhere, any time, it's in Tony's book. He has a wry sense of humor and he uses it to show what he has seen -- the upside, the down side, the weird-eccentric side of poker -- and he gives it to us broadside, like the pirate ships firing all guns at the same time.

Like Burgio, he misses the correct spelling of a name here and there (Burgio had Eric, instead of Erik Seidel, while Korfman gets Eric Drache incorrect as Drake). But who's perfect? The highly-opinionated Korfman has excellent recommendations for poker etiquette at the tables -- including the "breastfeeding factor"!

Overall, non-conformist players -- those who love to rock the boat, see the world another way or those innocents who have just gotten their feet wet as players are more likely to enjoy the book. There's some good poker advice here for everyone, but you'll have to sift to get to it. It was written to get the up-tight player to loosen up a bit. Only time will tell if Korfman achieved his goal.

Any item reviewed here is available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club). The store's web site is www.gamblersbook.com. You may order there using MasterCard, VISA or Discover (no CODs please) or by phoning the store any day except Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time at 1-800-522-1777. Orders usually shipped the next working day. The store, now in its 40th year, is located a mile from downtown Las Vegas, a block west of Maryland Parkway, just off Charleston Boulevard at South 11th Street. You may view the store's complete array of books, videos and software via the Web site or request a hard copy of the catalog be mailed free and first class. The store's address is 630 S. 11th St., Las Vegas, NV 89101.

Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com