For those interested in poker history, or at least those personalities involved in the game, you will find “Deal Me In” a fascinating and engaging documentation of the lives of many of the stars of the virtual felt since its rise into popular culture.
Authors Steven John and Marvin Karlins interviewed a selection of top players from today´s game, and chronicled the accounts of their lives from often humble beginnings to poker´s elite.
The pros were invited to describe how they were initially introduced to poker, the support (or lack of it) that they received from their families, and how they coped (or otherwise) with the wealth and fame that their victories bought. Although their paths from past to present are similar in many respects, there is a great amount of diversity in how the players lives were affected – with individual stories being at times poignant, instructive and even inspiring.
The players´ accounts are mostly related in the first person, and so read as if the player themselves had written the chapter relevant to them. Doyle Brunson and Chad Brown were both successful athletes before taking up full-time poker and describe how poker replaced their inbred desire to be competitive.
Johnny Chan and Chau Giang talk about how gambling on other casino games damaged their poker sucess, whilst Phil Hellmuth and Jennifer Harman elaborate on the difficulties they had overcoming their families´ prejudices against their chosen careers.
Harman and Layne Flack (who suffered from drug addiction as a result of his fame) both tell of how their relationship with Daniel Negreanu has helped them through to where they are now, and Annie Duke reveals how her brother (Howard Lederer) helped her through her early career.
Further chapters are dedicated to Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Scotty Nguyen and Phil Ivey amongst others.
One thing that shines through this book is the respect and sense of community that these players share, and the support they give to each other. Many previously chronicled events are omitted from the book so as not to duplicate what appears elsewhere in print, and each player is allocated between 12 and 20 pages plus an excellent library of photographs.
The book is written from a humble perspective, utilising wit and experience to gain the insight into the players´ lives and retelling them with equal amounts of expertise and humour. Even Phil Ivey gets a laugh from the reader when he declares that “I am not really as private a person as I am portrayed”.
Fittingly, the book concludes with interviews from more up-and-coming stars – Tom Dwan, Annette Obrestad and Peter Eastgate – each aware of where they stand in the poker hierarchy, and what they represent to the generation of players discovering poker for the first time.
“Deal Me In” is a well written, instructive and entertaining book about the people we look up to in our game. It welcomes the reader with open arms and invites you to enjoy the tales and learn from the experiences of these players – an excellent and well constructed read.
“Deal Me In” by Steven John and Marvin Karlins is available from Amazon
Paperback: 287 pages
Publisher: Phil’s House Publishing, Inc.; 1ST edition (September 1, 2009)