Poker, Poker—Who’s Got the Chips? . March 2011 . Vol 12 . No. 3

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December 10, 2010, Detroit, Michigan--Completion of a $100 million bond sale that will finance the renovation of the old MGM Casino for new Detroit police and fire department headquarters.

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Poker, Poker—Who’s Got the Chips?

By Dana Smith (for Howard Schwartz) - Gambler's Book Shop Las Vegas.

Crammed into splintery grandstands on Fremont Street, getting an impromptu suntan in the merciless Vegas heat, and wishing I’d used a tad more deodorant to stem the river of sweat in my armpits, I was lovin’ every minute of it!

 “It” was the legendary 1997 World Series of Poker final-table showdown between Stu Ungar, the “Comeback Kid,” and five worthy yet mostly forgotten foes. Poker Hall of Famer T.J. Cloutier and former World Champion of Poker Tom McEvoy were there on that historic day and have captured the pivotal hands “Stuey” played in their book, 107 Hold’em Tournament Hands, 352 pgs ($19.95).

But wait, folks, that’s not all—they dissect and analyze 69 other do-or-die hands at the WSOP, as well as 37 types of no-limit and limit hold’em hands in the how-to-play-‘em sections.

This expertly written, heavily illustrated book delivers the goods with cogent advice from two champions who’ve been there, done that for decades. They kick it off with 30 types of no-limit hold’em hands that span the range from how to play pocket aces to how to win with trash hands—such as 7-3, the final hand that Joe Hachem played at the 2005 WSOP, which they analyze in Action Hand 30, “A Garbage Hand Cleans Up at the WSOP.”

Part two, “Key Hands at the World Series of Poker: The Action, The Outcome, The Lessons,” has four sections that start with seven-handed play and progress to heads-up play. Clever titles introduce each hand: Flushed Out on the River, A Gutshot Draw Gets Shot Down, Three Ladies Beat a Belly Buster, and Kings Win a King’s Ransom. Not overlooking limit hold’em, still the most popular game in casino poker, the authors round out the book with limit how-to advice.

Cloutier has made it to the final table a remarkable four times, winning six gold bracelets in other WSOP events. He knows poker like the back of his hand, so to speak. Combining his incisive analysis with McEvoy’s skillful tutorials, 107 Hold’em Tournament Hands is an instructional and educational gem.

Think playing poker is just a matter of knowing when to hold’em or fold’em? Wrong! says Travis Steffen in Peak Performance Poker, 168 pgs ($22.95). With multiple quotes from poker pros such as Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth, Steffen lays out a how-to guide for getting into peak physical and mental condition so that you can attain optimal results at poker.

This self-help book for poker aficionados covers putting your chips on the table, not on your plate; using sports psychology to get hyped for the game; balancing your time between poker and other pursuits; and getting into the flow before you go. “The days of smoke filled rooms, whiskey, cheeseburgers and late nights are gone,” Negreanu says. “The new-school poker players are younger, leaner, more focused on the physical and mental health—and they’re crushing the games.”

Like those leaner meaner younger players, if you want to beat your toughest poker adversaries, Steffen intelligently presents a full house of valuable tips. (Now, if he could only show me how to turn back the clock about 30 years and lose 20 pounds overnight…)

These books are available at Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas. You can order them at www.gamblersbookclub.com or phone the store at 1-800-522-1777 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time. Opened in 1964, GBC is located at 5473 S. Eastern between Tropicana and Russell, just a short drive from the Strip. View the store's complete line of books, CDs, videos and software at the web site.