I’m All In, High Stakes, Big Business and the Birth of the World Poker Tour . February 2006

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I’m All In, High Stakes, Big Business and the Birth of the World Poker Tour, By Lyle Berman

Book review by Howard Berenbon

I know what you’re thinking. A book about gambling is only for gamblers, especially when the very popular World Poker Tour is concerned. But, you’re wrong. It’s much more than an autobiography by the high stakes poker player. It’s all about the world of business, gambling and how Lyle Berman revolutionized and revived the game of poker.

It all started when Lyle was arrested for illegal gambling in the dorm while attending Wharton Business School in PA in 1958. In court, the charges were dropped but he was expelled from the school. Then in 1963 he started working in his father’s leather manufacturing business, Berman Buckskin, in Minneapolis, where he earned a partnership and business respect. He suggested they stop selling wholesale and concentrate on the retail business. And it was a success! By 1978 they had 27 Berman Buckskin stores in malls throughout the Midwest. Then in 1979 they sold the business to W. R. Grace for 10 million dollars, but Lyle remained president and CEO through 1987.

Back to poker! In the early 1980s he purchased Doyle Brunson’s classic book Super System: A Course in Poker. In 1983 on vacation in Las Vegas, he entered a poker tournament at the Stardust Hotel and Casino, and that was his start into the world of high stakes poker. There’s a lot more stories and information on business and gambling, but you’ll want to read the book on your own for the rest. You’ll hear about his thirteen secrets of a success in business, seven steps to winning at poker, six ways poker players self-district and a lot more.

I’m All In, High Stakes, Big Business and the Birth of the World Poker Tour, By Lyle Berman (228 pages, hardbound, $16.47) is a must read for anyone interested in poker and the big business behind it.


Book reviews by Howard Schwartz (Manager of the Gambler's Book Shop in Las Vegas)

Three new books which either trace the history of Las Vegas or show the city as it is today have arrived at Gambler's Book Shop, and they're perfect for coffee-table gift items or for the historian who is curious about the most colorful city on the continent.  The three are Young Las Vegas Before the Future Found Us: 1905-193l by Joan Burkhart Whitely (236 pages, hardbound, $29.95), Nevada Yesterdays: Short Looks at Las Vegas History by Frank Wright (124 pages, hardbound, $24.95) and We All Live in Vegasby Francois Paolini (168 pages, hardbound, $24.95).

Young Las Vegas begins with the location, a rare oasis in the middle of a dangerous desert. It continues by tracing the impact of the railroad on the then-tiny location and offering reasons why the town flourished. Was the city-to-be lucky or did it become opportunistic as the West grew? Land was cheap but air conditioning virtually non-existent. Life was tough, if you owned a car or truck early on, you had luxury. It certainly wasn’t the kind of place you think about raising a family.

Through pictures (many of them never before compiled and put under one cover), some wonderful captioning and narration by a fine journalistic historian, the story unfolds, from the turn of the century to the days of the Boulder (Hoover) Dam, and how water, wonderful divorce laws, gambling and Depression-era jobs all came into play to trigger the city's thunderous growth.

Anyone who formerly lived in Las Vegas, or has plans to move here will enjoy this picture-history book, which also includes what notorious Block 16 (the red light district of its time) looked like, along with the earliest casinos and which streets were named after various pioneers.

Las Vegas was a western version of Mayberry. Andy, Deputy Fife, Gomer, Goober and Aunt Bea might be here -- but how it changed and how the world changed since those early days makes for a delightful book.

The late Frank Wright (he was curator for the Nevada Historical Society) in Nevada Yesterdays traces the city's history from its first beginnings in 1905 to the modern era with narration and photos of people, significant events and the men and women who shaped the city. The book answers most questions of the "when did it happen?" type regarding the casinos of the 40s and 50s; how education, sports, the military base, the Strip, culture all began and evolved to help diversify the city.

We All Live in Las Vegas contains more than 300 color photos by a world-famous photo-journalist. It captures the brilliance, imagination and uniqueness of the city via its ever-evolving architecture, internal and external design.

For first-time visitors, those who have never visited the city and for people of other nations, seeking to emulate Las Vegas through design or style, Paolini's book is a fine reference, but it is also a colorful tribute to those with the foresight and imagination to keeping the glorious merry-go-round in perpetual motion.

Note: The books mentioned here are available from Gambler's Book Shop, 630 South 11th Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101. Call l-800-522-1777 from 9 to 5 Monday through Saturday Pacific time to order, using only MasterCard, VISA or Discover card (no Amex accepted). You may order through the store web site at www.gamblersbook.com and view the store's 1,000 books, videos and computer software. You may also call or write and ask for the free 80-page catalog to be sent to you. The store, founded in 1964 by John and Edna Luckman, is located about two miles from Downtown Las Vegas, and the same distance from where the Strip begins, a block west of Maryland Parkway, just off Charleston Boulevard.