On any given Friday night, hundreds of thousands of Americans–men and women alike — pile into kitchens, garages, and backrooms to play their weekly poker game. From basement games in the suburbs to illegal gambling clubs in New York City to the high-stakes World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Andy Bellin has anted up with some of the world’s greatest players. In Poker Nation, he takes us on a raucous journey into the shut-up-and-deal world of professional poker.
Even if you don’t know the difference between a flop and a river card — or you do know exactly what it means to have “the nuts” — Bellin is your ace in the hole as you navigate this uniquely American terrain. Look over his shoulder as he learns to count cards, read a legendary player’s body language, hang in there when the chips are down, and, yes, take his beatings like a man. Watch what goes on behind the scenes in illegal poker clubs found in every major city in the country. Meet the colorful personalities and skewed psyches of the players, the dreamers, hustlers, eccentrics, and hucksters who are all part of this strange subculture.
Part memoir, part exposé, part how-to (or how-not-to), Poker Nation takes a frank and funny look at one of America’s enduring obsessions. It’s a sure bet.
Readers who enjoy poker will love Poker Nation, an energetic and obsessive account of America’s favorite card game, told with intelligence and panache. Andy Bellin writes in the first person and from the gut, recounting stories about poker fanatics (himself among them) and dispensing advice on how to play the game: “You have to maximize profits through guile and savvy, eke out every last dollar that your competition is willing to lose to you–and, when you don’t have the winning cards, flee as fast as possible.” Aphorisms leap off the pages: “The worst hand in poker is the second-best one at the table” and “People say the mark of a con is in the details.” Whether readers prefer the anecdotes about double-bluffing and illegal poker clubs or the tips on when to hold and when to fold (there’s even a table showing the “Chances of Drawing Helpful Cards from a Deck of Forty-Seven Unknown Cards”), anybody interested in its subject matter will find Poker Nation engrossing. –John Miller