Poker: Bets, Bluffs and Bad Beats

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9780747553779: Poker: Bets, Bluffs and Bad Beats
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Depicts a subculture rich with legend - from the no-limits Hold'em game to the late 20th-century World Championships in Las Vegas. Its terminology underpins modern life: Alvarez tells us "passing the buck" came from the baize table, as did "bluff", "above board", and "something up your sleeve".

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Review:

In Poker--Bets, Bluffs, and Bad Beats, journalist, poet and novelist Al Alvarez looks back on a lifetime's immersion in the business of playing cards for money, and quantifies the emotional and intellectual pot into which he and millions of other players past and present have been tossing their chips for nearly 200 years.

For the past 40 years or more I have played poker regularly, once or twice a week, except when I am in Las Vegas, when I play all day every day for a couple of weeks on end. Poker changed my life, and sometimes I think it may even have saved it.

From the card-sharps on the Mississippi steamboats, to the thrill-seeking octogenarians playing for $5 jackpots in corporate Las Vegas, Alvarez explores the history and mythology of the game, the legends and the also-rans, arguing that the legacy of poker is far greater than sum of its losers and winners.

Alvarez gauges how far the language and underlying attitudes of the game have become interwoven with American-led culture; how the bluffing and dollar-bullying that are key to winning are writ large across the history of power brokering in the USA, from the days of the "wild frontier" to the ongoing struggles for supremacy in the White House; how the professional players' maxim, "never give a sucker an even break", is the guiding principle of a me-first consumption-fixated society. Or as Walter Matthau put it: "The game exemplifies all the worst aspects of capitalism that have made our country so great."

A witty, intelligent study, lavishly and eclectically illustrated with images of the ephemera and iconography of the game, this is a gorgeous book--product of one pipe-smoking poet's turbulent, enduring love affair with poker, with risk and reward, and the men and women, both real and imagined, who have marshalled the qualities of high thinking and low cunning that mark out the true card player. --Alex Hankin

About the Author:

A. Alvarez is the author of numerous books and anthologies -- of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and criticism. He is also a contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books and perhaps the only published poet ever to participate in the World Series of Poker. His book about the series, The Biggest Game in Town, has become a cult classic. He lives in London.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781422366325: Poker: Bets, Bluffs and Bad Beats

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ISBN 10:  1422366324 ISBN 13:  9781422366325
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Chroni..., 1900
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