Phil Gordon's "Poker: The Real Deal"
Phil Gordon has been able to parlay his success in the 2001 World Series of Poker into quite a professional career. He has won two World Poker Tour championships and has been able to make "Celebrity Poker Showdown" on Bravo a big hit for that cable network. In dealing with the celebrities making their, in many cases, first run at a poker table, Phil often offers up a before the tournament tutorial to help them with their game. With "Poker: The Real Deal," Phil has been able to take these tutorials, expand on them, and make the book a worthwhile investment for most any player.
"I love teaching the game," Phil said to me in an interview. "I truly believe that almost everyone can be a champion poker player given enough time, motivation, energy, patience, and courage." For the beginning player, "The Real Deal" is an excellent book, taking into account all phases of a player's development. It literally starts with picking up the cards and looking at them, then begins climbing the ladder into small home games, micro-limit Holdem online, and gradually moves up through the levels of play to the ultimate for any poker player, the Main Event of the World Series of Poker.
For the intermediate to high level player, there is still a great deal of value to the book. It analyzes potential leaks that a player may have and offers some form of treatment that may be used to rectify the illness. It puts and emphasis on the power of strong play and the bluff as a tool to use. It also can be used as a salve to those who have been on the receiving end of the "bad beat" train, through the re-emphasis of aggressive play of starting hands and their occasional losing outcomes.
Two things make me recommend "Poker: The Real Deal" as a quality book that every poker player should have. One, Phil often refers to many other great poker books that a student can refer to, to either reference the information that he is offering or, in some cases and through the permission of its authors, illustrate it outright. There are many useful quizzes throughout the book, as well. Through the study of these a player can get some insight to making stronger plays in their own game and, if they have trouble laying down big hands, get a feel for when their big hands are beaten.
The book is quite well written and in a seemingly conversational style. It is a quality book as well, hardbacked and with a full 280 pages of information. There is a great "history of poker" section that starts off the book that, while not critical to play, is nice information to have at your next dinner party.
While it only looks at Limit and No-Limit Texas Holdem, Phil Gordon has come up with an excellent tome, something that any player of any ability should have. It does whet the appetite for his promised "advanced" book that he has said will be a definitive guide to Texas Holdem. Until that time, "Poker: The Real Deal" has to be recommended as a quality entry to have for a poker player's library. If you don't have a library yet, this would be an excellent place to start.