Gordon is well known as a professional poker player, having appeared
at final tables both on the World Poker Tour and at events in the World
Series of Poker. For the last few years he's also been the poker expert on
Bravo's popular series Celebrity Poker Showdown. In this role Gordon
has been responsible for bringing poker knowledge to a wide audience that
otherwise might never have become interested in the game. It's this audience
that his book Poker: The Read Deal will appeal to the most.
Unlike many other poker titles available today, Poker: The Real Deal is
not a strategy book. To Gordon's credit, he doesn't try to compete with
these books by providing non-stop strategic advice the way he does on
television. Instead he has put together what might be called a "lifestyle"
book, covering a wide variety of topics relating to poker in a general
manner. This general approach does mean that some topics won't be covered in
the depth that readers might like to see, but Gordon often provides sources
of more information when his approach forces him to be brief. Newcomers to
the game will appreciate not being overloaded with strategy, and chances are
they will also appreciate the light tone of the book: a humorous touch is
present throughout, making for a very easy read.
Like any writer covering a rich topic in a general way, Gordon starts at the
beginning. The first chapter of the book gives readers a little history of
the game. He covers some of the origins of the game and follows it up to
modern times, including the legendary heads-up match between Nick "The
Greek" Dandalos and 3-time WSOP champion Johnny Moss,
Brunson's Super System, and the cult classic movie
Rounders. A short chapter follows covering the basics of the game - the
cards used, betting, and hand rankings - and then it's straight into the
game as it's played today.
"The First Day Of School," the next chapter in the book, introduces important
poker concepts such as expected value, hand selection, pot odds, implied
odds, position, and semi-bluffing. Following chapters on putting together a
home game and thinking like a poker player is an overview of online poker.
This chapter can be extremely useful for newer players who have never played
for real money in an online room before, as stepping into the world of
online poker can be intimidating to newcomers. Just as intimidating for new
players is playing in a brick-and-mortar card room, and Gordon gives this
topic its own chapter as well. Much of the advice in this chapter will be
invaluable to anyone visiting a casino poker room for the first time,
especially the points that touch on table etiquette, tipping, and card room
quirks such as straddle raises and kill pots. Other chapters covering
moving up in limits, tournament final tables, playing as a professional, and
the World Series of Poker round out the book.
Perhaps the most useful parts of the book come at the end of each chapter.
"Your Defining Moment" presents a table situation that relates to the
subject of the chapter it follows and puts the reader in position to make a
decision. These small quizzes not only sum up all the material presented in
the preceding chapter, but they also prepare new players for the main task
involved in poker: making decisions. Once the reader has made a choice, he
can read Gordon's expert advice on each situation and learn by comparing the
pro's answers to his own. A player learning his way through the game could
do much worse than revisiting these chapter-ending segments from time to
While the book may be a general look at many different aspects of poker, there
is enough specific advice contained in Poker: The Real Deal to help
newer players quickly improve their game. And this advice comes from a true
expert in the field, making it even more valuable. Phil Gordon has already
made a reputation for himself as a great poker player - along with his
television job, this book has begun to earn him a reputation as a great
teacher of the uninitiated. Those who don't seek more than they'll find in
this book should be pleased with what they find.