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Poker Nation By Andy Bellin

Release date: 01st January, 2003
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press

List Price: £8.99
Our Price: £8.99
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Among the wealth of often dry poker instruction manuals dealing with strategy and instruction, from time to time, you may happen upon a title which, (shock, horror) actually tells a story. Poker Nation is one such tome, an autobiographical account of how one guy, while studying for a Masters degree in astrophysics, fell in love with poker. It is a marvellously amusing ride, replete with tales of high stakes poker, low-rent establishments and a cast of characters that any Hollywood director would die for.

Andy Bellin wastes no time embarking on his fascinating journey into a strange, sometimes dangerous world, occupied by hustlers, gamblers, dreamers and eccentrics.

For non-poker regulars, he provides a crash course in the game, and even though he has played semi-professionally, he is not afraid to highlight his faults, many of which he take delights at identifying as though to poke fun at himself. His character description - and the shadier the better - is, however, faultless.

You have to feel sorry for guys like Sal the bookie who, hours from his prison release (for promoting illegal gambling) manages to have his good behaviour time revoked after being caught placing illegal bets over the prison phone. Some people never learn.

Bellin also describes how he learnt to cheat - fear of losing a strip poker game saw to that and he is extremely good on the tactics of deck manipulation, fake-fan shuffles and palming. After reading this, it's no wonder that online poker has boomed.

But Bellin's poker life has not been spent entirely among the shysters and he provides a number of anecdotes which refer to his meetings with established stars such as Al Alvarez and Amarillo Slim.

Bellin has given his book an 'underground' feel, a feature which succeeds in proving its authenticity; the author's innate sense of humour, marvellous eye for detail and razor-sharp wit resonates throughout. It's easily readable in one sitting - indeed, once you've started, it's extremely difficult to put down.


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