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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
If Frank Sinatra had a prep school education he probably would have sounded a lot like writer and poker player Andy Bellin. When Sinatra crooned, it was a sure bet: He always got the girl -- all the girls. Bellin has but one object of desire, and he pursues her relentlessly. No, not Lady Luck. He knows she is a fickle, unreliable lover. Bellin sings of the virtues of mathematical probabilities and analytical reasoning, and his mistress is the game of poker.
Smart, smarmy, and seductive, with just enough self-deprecating humor to keep it from being too cocky, Poker Nation allows us a long, slow glimpse into the dusky world of high-stakes poker and professional gambling. It provides an insider's view most of us won't see outside of an old movie. Bellin leads us into the smoke-filled rooms and underground clubs, offering us a seat at the green felt tables where he spends much of his time. A five-nights-a-week poker player, Bellin gets plenty of practice perfecting his craft.
After ten years as a serious player he's learned quite a bit, and he shares the pot with the reader. Part exposé, part poker primer, and full of the history and folklore surrounding the game, Poker Nation imparts the tricks of the trade from a uniquely intimate perspective. This book is a great read for anyone looking to improve their game, as it offers chapters on everything from the theory of probability (Bellin pursued a graduate degree in astrophysics) to betting strategy ("the worst hand in poker is the second-best one at the table") to reading your opponents "tells" -- unconscious twitches and quirks that can give away a bluff. "Don't watch the cards while they are being dealt," Bellin advises, "watch the faces of the players watching the cards being dealt."
Hobby? Compulsion? Obsession? Addiction? If you liked Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis but crave a little more danger, Poker Nation is the sexy new game in town. Luck be a Royal Flush tonight. (Ann Kashickey)