No Substitute for Playing the Game

Article excerpt

THEY don't all fall into this category, but occasionally, reading books about poker strategies and tactics can be like eating half a dozen cream crackers without taking a drink - far too dry.

Once they become overly mathematical, or begin focusing too much on the game's psychological aspects, most readers tend to glaze over.

There is only so much technical information you can absorb and, frankly, reading such a book is no substitute for playing.

However, earlier this year a book called The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King by Michael Craig, which tells the fascinating tale of the rich American banker Andy Beal and his quest to take on the poker pros, was published.

Having perused a preview copy, I can confirm that, although Beal clearly has a superb mathematical brain and an uncanny ability to absorb even the most obscure poker strategies, this is not one likely to be cast aside after the first half a dozen pages.

In 2001, after he started playing (and losing) highstakes poker at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Vegas, it took Beal three years to develop his game to a level that he felt would allow him to take on the pros.

It's a compelling tale, but if you need an example of the lengths to which Beal will go win, you need only examine what the man was up to last month during a fortnight of no-limit poker at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

Some time ago, Beal, a billionaire banker from Texas, offered to take on a group of high-profile poker professionals, collectively known as 'The Corporation'' all a bit Tom Cruise, I know, but these guys were playing for big bucks. …