The Biggest Game in Town


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During a recent trip to Lake Tahoe, I completed the definitive poker legends book. Written in 1983 by A. Alvarez,
Alvarez is a Brit, fascinated by poker, who comes to Vegas and chronicles the world of professional gamblers in the early 1980’s. Of course, in that time he can’t help but describe some of the techniques and strategies for playing Texas Hold ‘Em, the main game played annually at the World Series of Poker at Binion’s Horseshoe in Vegas, but this is most certainly not a strategy book.

Through the book we’re introduced to the legends of poker, including characters like Jack Binion, who has survived numerous brushes with the law, including a murder charge, who subsequently founded the Horseshoe because he felt that gambling can be profitable without reducing it to an environment where you have to be coddled. At Binion’s, your first bet is your limit. And if your first bet happens to be $770,000, and you want to bet it all on a roll of the dice in a craps game, that’s quite alright with the Binion clan. (The bettor won, and filled a second suitcase with his winnings of $770,000, and drove back into the desert where he came from.)

If you’ve find poker interesting, and the chronicles of their characters compelling, I suggest starting with
Kolnik, Bellin, and others.