Monday, December 1, 2014

Poker? I Barely Know Her!

Poker Face: A Girlhood Among GamblersPoker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers by Katy Lederer
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

These are the books that get written and read just after a wave has crested. In this case, that wave was the Texas Hold 'Em poker craze.

Everybody was doing it! It was 2004 and an absolute unknown player, Chris Moneymaker, had just won the most highly coveted World Series of Poker championship. This caused an incredible stir of interest in poker, almost a rebirth. It brought instant world-wide recognition to the game of Texas Hold 'Em, a variant on the five card stud standard known and played by every Tom, Dick and Harry since the day when guys were actually named Tom, Dick and Harry. It seemed like overnight everyone was playing it. Poker pros and so-called experts came out with how-to books. Movies were being made. ESPN was flogging the hell out of recorded tournaments and soon even the Travel Channel would be showing their own show on poker.

Inevitably everyone remotely related to poker would attempt to cash in on the craze. Enter Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers.

Its author, Katy Lederer, is the sister of poker great Howard "The Professor" Lederer, a sort of old man whizz-kid who takes a scientific approach to playing the game, as well as Annie Duke, widely considered the best female player of all time. As one would imagine, lil' sis Katy grew up surrounded by game. Perhaps inundated is the word I'm looking for.

Poker Face is the sort of book one reads because they are not only interested in poker, but also the people behind the game. The Lederers rub elbows on a personal level with all the big names, so a book like this should give the reader at least a little insight to what these people are like away from the table. Book's like this can shed light on the human side, or perhaps in-human side, of those who are fully wrapped up within this multi-million dollar industry. But don't get too excited. Poker Face does do a little of that, but much of it is about Katy's experiences growing up with poker as the main backdrop. This is about Katy...Katy! Katy! Katy!

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