If you are interested in gambling or fascinated by the kinds of people who make a career out of games of chance, then there are lots of ways to learn more about these famed personalities and gain insights into their innermost thoughts.
Biographies present the most intimate look at the gods of gambling, so here are just a few of the most engaging, entertaining, and informative tomes to add to your wish list.
For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair With Poker by Victoria Core
Best known in her native UK as a writer and TV personality, Victoria Coren is also an accomplished poker player who has made history in pro tours and continued to dazzle with her abilities over the course of more than decade.
In total she has taken home more than $2.5 million from tournament successes, including a main event win at the 2006 European Poker Tour London. This was especially significant because she was the first woman to achieve that feat.
All of this and much more besides is discussed in her book, which not only looks at the high points of her poker playing adventures, but also the lows that come from losing big and also facing up to disruption in her personal life associated with her dedication to the game.
What the book does not do is actually provide info on how to improve your own skills as a casino customer, in which case you should check out the gambling book recommendations from AskGamblers which include more practical options.
One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey “The Kid” Ungar by Nolan Dalla
Most disciplines have their untouchable heroes; those people who are so naturally gifted at what they do that no matter how hard their rivals train, they can never hope to match their sheer virtuosity.
In the world of poker, that person might well be Stuey Ungar, who set a whole host of records throughout his lifetime and is still recognized as being the king of Texas Hold ‘Em.
This brilliant biography scrutinizes his upbringing in New York City, where his father’s role as a bookmaker and money lender meant that Stuey was always surrounded by gambling from childhood. It also analyzes his complex character, from the arrogance of his tournament play style to the drug addiction which eventually resulted in physical deterioration and death at the age of just 45.
It may have a tragic tale to tell, but this book is worth reading for the way it deftly describes the poker maestro at its heart.
Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen
While some poker players are incredibly stoic, giving nothing away with what they do or say, Gus Hansen sits at the opposite end of the spectrum, favoring an intense and often frenetic presence at the table. This has helped him to take home almost $12 million from tournaments over his long and illustrious career, and this book was published in the wake of his biggest win at the 2007 Aussie Millions event.
This book is not so much a full scale biography, but rather an in-depth breakdown of the aforementioned tournament, with Hansen pulling apart the hundreds of hands that he was involved in over the course of the event.
The upshot is that it is essentially a how-to for amateur poker players who aspire to take things to the next level. It may be written by an expert, but the language and explanations are clear enough to ensure that you do not need to be a poker pro yourself to get something out of it.
Big Deal: A Year as a Professional Poker Player by Anthony Holden
While some poker players turn to write once they gain enough traction on the professional scene, this book takes things in the opposite direction, with author Anthony Holden deciding to dedicate a full 12 months of his life to playing poker as his main source of income, and documenting the experiences for all to enjoy.
Aside from being written with flair and passion, describing what it is like to be a poker pro and what it takes to survive on the scene, it is also something of a time capsule, since all of the action takes place in 1988, and so much has changed since then.
As well as detailing Holden’s exploits, it paints a detailed picture of the other characters he encountered on his globe-trotting mission to play poker professionally. And of course there are many thrilling moments and funny stories, all plucked from real life.
The Godfather of Poker by Doyle Brunson
Today we think of poker as being a thoroughly mainstream pursuit, both as a result of its popularity at casinos as well as its rise to prominence in the online space. Yet this was not always the case, and for a long time, it was a niche activity, one which appealed to only a small number of elite players who would spend years dedicating themselves to the craft and putting their livelihoods and lives on the line in the process.
This is the era from which Doyle Brunson emerged, and this book charts the story of his life from his early years on the backstreets of Texas to his dominance at the tables in Las Vegas.
There are big wins, serious losses and life or death moments described in the pages of this gripping autobiography, written by Brunson himself in collaboration with Mike Cochran.
One of Brunson’s most noteworthy accolades is that he was the first person to ever walk away with $1 million from tournament play, proving that it really was a pursuit that you could take up professionally. As he only retired from the scene in 2018, the now 87-year-old stalwart is also undoubtedly the longest-standing personality around.
So there you have it; a whole host of poker biographies that should keep you entertained for weeks. Choose one, two or more and get stuck into the action!