Books About The History and Culture of Poker

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    According to Doyle

    By: Doyle Brunson

    In his book, legendary poker champion Doyle Brunson shares fascinating anecdotes and adventures from his early career playing poker in roadhouses and with other great champions, interspersed with important lessons on what it takes to be a successful poker player. Brunson, who has made more money at poker than anyone else in the history of the game, provides insights into the mind of a great player, revealing his approach to the game and offering candid, powerful advice to readers. The book features a foreword by renowned poker authority Mike Caro, who hails Brunson as “the greatest poker player who ever lived.”

    I’m All In

    By: Lyle Berman
    Subtitle: High Stakes, Big Business, and the Birth of the World Poker Tour

    Lyle Berman, a unique blend of high-stakes poker maverick and entrepreneurial tycoon, shares his incredible life story in I’m All In, a thrilling journey through the exhilarating and often treacherous worlds of high-stakes gambling and business. As a driving force behind the poker phenomenon that has captivated America and the world, Berman offers an unprecedented look into the creation and early challenges of the World Poker Tour, permanently changing the face of poker. Through colorful anecdotes and hard-earned wisdom, Berman illuminates his life, the game of poker, and the national phenomenon it has become, making I’m All In a must-read story that only he can tell.

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    Positively Fifth Street

    By: James McManus
    Subtitle: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker

    James McManus was sent to Las Vegas by Harper’s Magazine in the spring of 2000 to cover the World Series of Poker, focusing on two main stories: the progress of women in the $23 million event and the murder of the tournament’s prodigal host, Ted Binion, allegedly committed by a stripper and her boyfriend. Upon arriving, McManus finds himself drawn to the tables, compelled to risk his entire Harper’s advance in a long-shot attempt to participate in the tournament himself. In Positively Fifth Street, he provides a deliciously suspenseful account of the tournament, detailing the players, the intense hand-to-hand combat, and his own unlikely progress. McManus also captures the delightfully seedy carnival atmosphere that surrounds the event.

    Straight Flush

    By: Ben Mezrich
    Subtitle: The True Story of Six College Friends Who Dealt Their Way to a Billion-Dollar Online Poker Empire--and How It All Came Crashing Down . . .

    Straight Flush, based on insider interviews, recounts the company’s early operations in Costa Rica, where founders indulged in a lavish lifestyle. They operated in a legal gray area, creating an industry that soon attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice. The book offers an unprecedented look into one of the most sensational business stories of the past decade.

    The Noble Hustle

    By: Colson Whitehead
    Subtitle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death

    Bestselling author and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Colson Whitehead, was given $10,000 by Grantland magazine in 2011 to participate in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Despite never having played in a casino tournament, Whitehead had six weeks to train in Atlantic City. His journey, marked by joy, heartbreak, and the challenge of balancing family life, culminated in a multimillion-dollar tournament in Vegas. Whitehead’s account of his experience is entertaining, ironic, and surprisingly profound.

    Total Poker

    By: David Spanier

    Total Poker explores the analysis, clever tactics, and inspired bluffing that are essential to the game, but ultimately, winning at poker is a “psychological decision” made by each player, as the author maintains. Luck evens out for everyone, rendering the concept of “good cards” or “bad cards” meaningless. This book, packed with stories about the application of poker to life in general, explores the game’s history, culture, techniques, strategies, rules, and probabilities.

    Aces and Kings

    By: Michael Kaplan
    Subtitle: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies from Poker's Greatest Players

    Aces and Kings is the perfect book for the ever-growing group of poker players, whether beginners or aficionados. Through fascinating, intimate profiles of the game’s greatest players, including World Series of Poker winners Doyle Brunson, ‘Amarillo Slim’ Preston, Chris Moneymaker, Howard ‘the Professor’ Lederer, and Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson, it tells readers everything they need to know about the game. The authors have received unprecedented access to poker’s top practitioners, providing thrilling moments, valuable insights, and how-to advice taken from real-life experiences at the highest-stakes tables.

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    52 Greatest Moments World Series of Poker

    By: Mark Rogers

    The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the longest-standing poker tournament in the world and has become the undisputed preeminent event that every professional seeks for their success. When the best come to knock each other out, amazing stories result, and this book chronicles 52 of the game’s finer moments. The collection serves as a reminder of how the WSOP has evolved to its current state and the impact history has played in defining each moment. The stories vary from Main Event championships to preliminary event bracelet records to unique cultural moments that took place between poker’s most recognizable characters.

    Hunting Fish

    By: Jay Greenspan
    Subtitle: A Cross-Country Search for America's Worst Poker Players

    This book is about the author’s journey across the United States in search of the worst poker players. The author, an experienced poker player himself, sets out on a road trip to find and play against the weakest poker players in America, hoping to make a living from his winnings. The book is part travelogue, part poker strategy guide, and part character study, as Greenspan encounters a wide range of colorful characters and situations along the way. It provides an entertaining and insightful look into the world of poker, as well as the diverse landscape of America.

    He Played For His Wife And Other Stories

    By: Anthony Holden

    This brilliant anthology of poker-themed short stories features works from authors like Anthony Holden, Patrick Marber, Neil Pearson, and Jennifer Tilly, with an introduction by Al Alvarez. The collection, curated by Holden, includes a diverse range of narratives that offer a deep insight into human nature, making it more than just a book about a popular card game. It also features a poem from Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

    Poker & Pop Culture

    By: Martin Harris
    Subtitle: Telling the Story of America's Favorite Card Game

    Poker, born around the time of US independence, mirrors America’s journey. Played by all, from presidents to common folk, it spans kitchen tables to grand tournaments, embodying both humble beginnings and high stakes. In “Poker & Pop Culture,” Martin Harris delves into its evolution from saloons to online platforms, weaving tales of truth and bluffs. From iconic figures like Mark Twain to cultural references in art, movies, and literature, the book explores poker’s imprint on American history and its role in shaping cultural narratives.

    A History of the World from a Gambler’s Perspective

    By: Mason Malmuth, Antonio Carrasco

    Gambling is an activity that many of us engage in, whether it’s a trip to a casino or a home game of poker. However, gambling, or aspects of it, can be found in many unexpected places, including history. This book revisits historical moments where gambling played a crucial role. First, it defines exactly what gambling is and explain why both luck and skill (or the lack thereof) are important. It also introduce the concept of non-self-weighting strategies, which happen to be the optimal way to gamble. Next, it explores historical events where significant gambles were made, sometimes with positive outcomes and sometimes with negative ones. It uncovers numerous instances where aspects of gambling influenced the course of history. Specifically, It examines how poor Goliath never stood a chance, how Hernan Cortes was the luckiest man who ever lived, and how the Spanish Armada employed the wrong strategy. It shows how Confederate General Braxton Bragg demonstrated that it is better to be lucky than good, and how Union General William T. Sherman understood the importance of poker. How Wyatt Earp dealt with troublemakers, how middleweight champion Stanley Ketchel was flattened by a Jack Johnson punch, and how Winston Churchill gave the English a fighting chance in World War II. It also explores how Benito Mussolini was what knowledgeable gamblers would call a “live one,” how Leon Trotsky saved Soviet Russia, and how a rainstorm may have saved the United States


    By: Al Alvarez
    Subtitle: Bluffs, Bets, and Bad Beats

    Alvarez narrates poker’s history, featuring legendary stories, players, and hands. From Nick the Greek’s five-month marathon against Johnny Moss to the World Series of Poker, Alvarez presents a vibrant subculture. The book is enriched with poker-inspired art, ads, movie stills, and photos, celebrating poker as a lifestyle, not just a card game.

    Read ‘Em and Weep

    By: John Stravinsky
    Subtitle: A Bedside Poker Companion

    Poker is not just a widely loved game, it’s a universe filled with a variety of vibrant personalities, including professionals, amateurs, hustlers, and dreamers. This collection, akin to a royal flush, compiles short stories, essays, poems, and novel excerpts from a range of esteemed authors. These writers, from the Wild West era to the present day, have drawn from their personal encounters with the game. The compilation, titled ‘Read ‘Em and Weep’, is both entertaining and enlightening, making it a must-have. It features works by Nelson Algren, Andy Bellin, Anthony Holden, Katy Lederer, James Thurber, Barbara Tuchman, Billy Collins, Pete Dexter, Martin Amis, David Mamet, Herbert O. Yardley, A. and more.

    The Poker Encyclopedia

    By: Elkan Allan
    Subtitle: The Definitive Poker Book

    The Poker Encyclopedia provides comprehensive coverage on a range of topics, from Alexander the Great’s association with the King of Clubs to Amarillo Slim, aggression, alcohol, and the Anna Kournikova pun. This is just a glimpse of what this book is about. This carefully curated and thoroughly researched reference book is a must-have for poker enthusiasts.

    How I Made Over $1,000,000 Playing Poker

    By: Doyle Brunson

    This book offers insights, into the world of professional poker. Brunson shares his experiences, approaches and invaluable tips that contributed to his remarkable success in the game. From selecting the games to managing bankrolls and analyzing opponents behavior the author covers a wide range of poker related topics. Moreover readers will find captivating anecdotes and real life stories from Brunsons journey that shed light on both the triumphs and challenges he faced along the way. This book serves as a source of inspiration and knowledge for aspiring poker players who are looking to enhance their skills and attain their victories, in this exhilarating game.

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    Phantoms of the Card Table

    By: David Britland
    Subtitle: Confessions of a Card Sharp

    Walter Irving Scott is arguably the most accomplished card shark in history. In 1930, he astounded New York’s top card handlers by dealing himself winning poker hands from a shuffled deck, one of his many feats. He took pride in “cheating the cheats” and his exceptional card skills earned him the nickname “The Phantom of the Card Table.” Six decades later, British magician Gazzo sought out Scott. They formed a friendship and Scott openly shared his techniques for potential publication. Scott insisted on honesty, saying, “I don’t care what you say, as long as you tell the truth.” This is the true story of Scott and other card table phantoms who spent years mastering the art of card cheating, a topic rarely discussed. A special chapter on master card tricks is also included.

    Poker and Philosophy

    By: Eric Bronson
    Subtitle: Pocket Rockets and Philosopher Kings

    This is a collection of essays that explore the connections, between the widely popular card game of poker and various profound philosophical concepts. Through the lens of poker this book explores ethics, probability, decision making and human nature. The essays are thoughtfully written by a group of philosophers experienced poker players and scholars who cleverly use the game as a metaphor to delve into philosophical issues. With its perspective, on poker and captivating exploration of ideas this book offers readers an engaging journey worth venturing into.

    The Lady Was a Gambler

    By: Chris Enss
    Subtitle: True Stories of Notorious Women of the Old West

    American History: 1800-1900. In the Wild West’s mining camps, cattle ranches, and gold towns, a series of women braved dangerous gambling games against ruthless men. “The Lady Was a Gambler” showcases fifteen notorious female gamblers of the Old West, including “Poker” Alice Ivers, the best player from Deadwood to Tombstone; Eleanora Dumont, the top twenty-one dealer; and Lottie Deno, a beautiful faro dealer who gambled from Texas to Alaska.

    Cowboys Full

    By: James McManus
    Subtitle: The Story of Poker

    Cowboys Full offers a lively and definitive history of poker, charting its journey from its origins in China, the Middle East, and Europe to becoming a global sensation. The book outlines how poker evolved from a French parlor game to a national obsession in the United States by the Civil War era. It further explores the game’s transition from being monopolized by cardsharps to its current status as the most popular card game across Europe, East Asia, Australia, South America, and in the realms of cyberspace and television. James McManus investigates poker’s profound influence on American culture, as evidenced in Frederic Remington’s artwork, as well as in numerous novels, movies, and plays dedicated to the game. From the back rooms of saloons to the parlors of U.S. presidents, Cowboys Full is both raucous and fascinating, capturing the essence of a game that reveals much about who we are and how we function.

    My 50 Most Memorable Hands

    By: Doyle Brunson

    This book brings to life the most incredible hands played by the greatest poker player of all time. Over fifty years of poker history unfold through legendary players, significant events, and unforgettable hands. Experience the thrill and pivotal moments of poker’s most exciting hands right alongside Doyle. He shares the exhilarating and life-altering experiences of playing in high-stakes games, where avoiding police, hijackers, and murderers was part of the game, competing in hands worth over a million dollars, and facing situations where everything depended on the turn of a card. This book offers a collection of fascinating stories and invaluable poker advice, all shared by the legend himself.

    Poker Wit and Wisdom

    By: Fiona Jerome and Seth Dickson
    Subtitle: Everything You'll Never Need to Know About Poker

    This book compiles humorous quotes, anecdotes, and stories related to the game of poker. It includes insights from famous poker players, celebrities, and other notable figures who have shared their thoughts and experiences about the game. The book is meant to entertain and amuse readers, rather than provide serious strategy or advice for playing poker. It is a light-hearted and fun read for poker enthusiasts and those interested in the culture surrounding the game.

    Moneymaker Effect

    By: Eric Raskin
    Subtitle: The Inside Story of the Tournament That Forever Changed Poker

    This book discusses the impact of Chris Moneymaker’s victory in the 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event on the poker industry. Moneymaker, an amateur poker player, won the event and its $2.5 million prize after qualifying through an online satellite tournament with a $39 buy-in. His victory inspired millions of people to start playing poker, both online and in live tournaments, leading to a massive boom in the poker industry. The book explores how Moneymaker’s win changed the perception of poker from a game played by professionals and seasoned gamblers to one that anyone could learn and potentially succeed in. This phenomenon, known as the “Moneymaker Effect,” led to a significant increase in the number of poker players, the size of tournament prize pools, and the growth of online poker sites.

    Ghosts at the Table

    By: Des Wilson
    Subtitle: Riverboat Gamblers, Texas Rounders, Roadside Hucksters, and the Living Legends Who Made Poker What it is Today

    Ghosts at the Table was the first comprehensive history of the game. The book humorously and energetically traces the game’s roots from the Wild West town of Deadwood, South Dakota, where “Wild” Bill Hickok was allegedly shot while holding aces and eights, to the yearly World Series of Poker and the thrilling high-stakes games in contemporary Las Vegas. The narrative is filled with memorable characters, including riverboat gamblers, Texas rounders, roadside tricksters, and living legends, all of whom have contributed to poker’s status as the world’s most popular game.

    The Hand I Played

    By: David Spanier
    Subtitle: A Poker Memoir

    This collection of captivating and informative essays sees Spanier exploring his ultimate favorite game: poker. From a frank recounting of his first encounter with gambling as a student at a top-tier English boarding school, to an intriguing study of online gambling through internet poker communities, Spanier guides us through the vibrant and thrilling universe of poker.

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