Another Round of Holden Poker


By Neal Comment

From Publishers Marketplace comes word that Anthony Holden has resold the rights to his 1990 poker memoir, Big Deal, to Simon & Schuster—along with a sequel, to be called Bigger Deal, in which he essentially repeats his initial experiment of trying to survive on the professional poker circuit for a year. No less than Salman Rushdie called the first book “the best description of world-class poker we’ve been given,” but that was fifteen years ago, when poker was a subculture with a more-than-faintly seedy veneer to it. Today, poker’s been so readily embraced that not only are the top-level competitions televised, along with friendly games among celebrities, but it seems like every major player already has his or her own book out.

Just looking at the piles of books stacked around my desk, I can readily pull out Matt Lessinger’s The Book of Bluffs, Amarillo Slim’s Play Poker to Win, and Cat Hulbert’s Outplaying the Boys: Poker Tips for Competitive Women. The bestseller list for poker books at Amazon brings in Dan Harrington, Doyle Brunson, Phil Gordon, King Yao, Barry Greenstein, Mark Blade, Phil Hellmuth, and Annie Duke… and that’s only on the first page. Then there’s the slew of books by more casual players; by the time you get around to the recently published Rough Guide to Poker (which is more of a cultural survey than a strategy manual), it becomes clear that Holden’s going to have to bring his best game if he wants to stand out in this tournament. Of course, he does bring skills to the table that give him a literary edge over much of the competition: Long before the poker books arrive, Little, Brown will be releasing his new biography of 19th-century poet Leigh Hunt, The Wit in the Dungeon. Now wouldn’t it be fun to sit him across a table from NYT poker columnist James McManus and see what happens?