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Poker tourneys, Cuba and the mob

Jul 8, 2008 7:00 PM

Book Reviews by Howard Schwartz | Nothing like a nice variety pack of books to choose from I always say. Getting attention this time (without any editorial comment) are poker and the Mafia.

In order, the new arrivals are Winning Poker Tournaments (One Hand at a Time) by Eric (Rizen) Lynch; Jon (Apestyles) Van Fleet and Jon (Pearljammer) Turner (421 pages, paperbound, $29.95); and Havana Nocturne (How the Mob Owned Cuba and Lost It To The Revolution) by T.J. English (396 pages, hardbound, ($27.95).

Winning Poker Tournaments has an introduction by Matthew Hilger, a respected world class poker player who has penned three books of his own, including Texas Hold’em Odds and Probabilities and The Poker Mindset. The three authors, Lynch, Turner and Van Fleet are successful players online and Hilger has penned three previous books. Individually, they present a theme of theory meeting practice. The authors describe their decision-making process, "articulating exactly how they think through individual hands." (By the way, this is Vol. I, with Vol. II due in 2009.)

Here, you’ll see various styles offered. Examples: Turner focuses on managing the size of the pot to minimize his risk until he traps opponents. Van Fleet is aggressive and looks to build a quick stack, while Lynch has a conservative "sit-back approach" at times and will take risks in "high reward" situations. Thus the reader gets to see various styles and how they were played.

There are 194 hands analyzed and illustrated.

Havana Nocturne by T.J. English (he also wrote Paddy Whacked and The Westies and has written for TV’s "NYPD Blue," focuses on organized crime, political corruption, and international conflict which took place in Cuba in the 1950s. English’s well-indexed, illustrated book includes Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Fulgericio Batista, Dino and Eddie Cellini, Santo Trafficanti, Bugsy Siegel, Frank Sinatra, the Riviera and Tropicana casinos, the Kefauver hearings and of course, Fidel Castro among others.

This is an in-depth analysis and investigation of "the Mob’s heyday" in Cuba and some facts the movie "Godfather II," where the scenes were played out in fiction, might have skipped.

Any item reviewed here is available from Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club). The store’s website is; or you can call toll free at 1-800-522-1777.