Are poker books really helpful?

Jun 26, 2006 3:20 AM

Back in 2000 when I wrote my first book, "The Undeniable Truth About Video Poker," my intention was to help as many players as possible understand how NOT to play if they ever really wanted to win consistently.

I went at it first because I was frustrated at playing and losing to the tune of long-term/expert-play strategy for a little over six years — and I wanted to see if I could make a difference with what I had learned.

I also openly revealed how I felt I had been addicted to the game due to all the hours imposed upon me chasing a tiny win percentage into infinity, and how I lost a lot of money going after that type of baloney.

Over the years I’d say I’ve been very successful in fulfilling my wish to help others see what they’re doing wrong. I average 20+ e-mails a day from players wanting advice, I have always met up with as many players as I could fit into my schedule, and I continue to train them on how I believe they would be better off playing.

In return, the response from many of them has been very positive, and most ask that I never stop writing the truth in weekly doses.

Before I came along, I can’t count how many statistics-based books on the subject there were floating around — all having the same theme to do the same things and for the same reasons. Expert-play this, optimal-play that, follow the math theories and models and you’ll be a winner "like me."

Always the same old stuff, re-packaged and published — sometime by the same author more than once. Could it possibly get any more boring?

Sad to say, the answer seems to be yes. While there are several books around that talk about the value of freebies and comps, etc., and Bob Dancer has written an absolute gem with Million Dollar Video Poker, you may have noticed a recent book review I did in this column on Linda Boyd’s newest offering for the budding video poker player, The Video Poker Edge.

You might remember I was expecting to see the same old things rehashed over and over again because I know she subscribes to the perfect-play theory. Yet I was surprised in how different her book really was, and how helpful it could be to virtually any type player who sits at the machines. She proved what the others couldn’t — that you could actually make an interesting read out of all that math and all those theories and models that a lot of players practically bet their lives on every day.

I suppose video poker books will continue to come out for a long, long time, and as an author I’m no different. But they have to be interesting if they really want to help anyone. Dancer’s book basically chronicled his professional life and told a lot of readers things that made them wince — which is something all gamblers don’t mind doing at all. Readers learned a lot from his experiences — even if they would shy away from doing some of the things he did themselves.

My second book "Rambling And Gambling Through Nevada" brings the reader on a month-long journey to every corner of the Silver State, on a gambling and fact-finding mission. The fact that there was a lot of side tracking involved only adds to the exciting experience. I know from the many messages I’ve received on it that people feel as if they’re right there with me as I travel, stop, gamble, and experience a few rather invigorating experiences along the way.

Those are the type books on gambling I and most gamblers like to open up. Simply putting together something that talks nothing but math and bores with calculations just doesn’t cut it any longer. It never did back then either.

People either want to learn something they didn’t know before, or they want to read about what someone else has done. And if they’re presented the same old information, it HAS to be well written and have something unique about it to be of any value. That, we already have.