Poker is going through a bit of resurgence. Late Night Poker on Channel 4 has a huge cult following while columns and features dealing (wahey) with the game are springing up regularly in mags and papers. ItÂ’s hardly surprising Â– poker is one of the great games of any kind and deserves its place in the sun. But thereÂ’s more to it than just learning the hierarchy of hands and perfecting a poker face.
The late David Spanier spent a very entertaining life writing about and playing poker, and Total Poker has rightly gone down as the classic book on the subject. What it doesnÂ’t do is instruct directly in the ways of winning. Yes, there are plenty tips and provisos, but they deal with wide-ranging issues like the bluff and not with the technical intricacies of the game. That would be pretty dull, and thereÂ’s nothing dull in here (even the seemingly straightforward chapter on odds is engaging thanks to SpanierÂ’s easy and insightful manner).
ThereÂ’s a great little chapter on poker movies and movie scenes, for example, and several hugely entertaining tales of poker legends and their card-playing antics. After finishing the last page, youÂ’ll want to find a deck of cards and get a game going, flush (wahey again) with the feeling that youÂ’ve been afforded a look into the heart and soul of poker - and that you could easily win a stack full of chips around a smoky, dimly lit table given half a chanceÂ…