Doyle Brunson, when he was looking to update the legendary "Super/System", called on some of the greatest players in the game today to be his contributors for the new book. Jennifer Harman, Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan and his son Todd Brunson all were a part of the equally fantastic "Super/System 2" which, by now, most everyone has. Another player who was asked to be a part was superb cash game expert, tournament player and philanthropist Barry Greenstein.
Greenstein was to write for Doyle, according to Barry, about how to make money at the game of poker. What Doyle assigned as a twenty page chapter for "Super/System 2" became, in the hands of the brilliant Greenstein, a one hundred page dissertation. When Barry asked what he wanted to use from it, Doyle said, "There isn't anything I would cut." Doyle then presented Barry with a decision; either cut it down to fit into "Super/System 2", or expand it into his own book. The poker world must thank Doyle Brunson for providing it another gift, as Barry Greenstein expanded the document he produced for Brunson into his own book, "Ace On The River", which will be able to stand beside both of Brunson's books as must have literature for all poker players.
At first look, the book is simply one of the most professional looking publications that there has been. There is beautiful, glossy photography of the major gaming halls of the world and the players that are in it. It is distinct in its looks and quality and will be a benchmark for future poker books to strive to achieve. It's price as well, at $25, is well within the poker aficionados budget.
By far, though, "Ace On The River" is not all glitz and no guts. Greenstein displays his very advanced mind on virtually every page of the tome, including the dedication to his children that starts the book. When you have a man that can dedicate a book to his children and asks for their forgiveness for when "I have failed as a parent", you know you are sitting at the feet of someone who can pass on to you much more than the poker knowledge you are about to receive.
The quotations that lead off each chapter are brilliant and pass along the lessons that you are about to learn. Even with this said, there are many people who may find the first half of the book to be a bit of a bore. The people that pass by it will miss out on the total learning experience that Barry is passing along to would-be poker professionals. The descriptions and details that he hands out over the first 144 pages should be handed out as a guideline for every person who wants to not only become a poker player but also a better person in everyday life. It analyzes not only how to conduct yourself in the world of poker but how to become the best money manager you can, the pitfalls that a poker player needs to avoid and how to keep your mind mentally sharp. It even steps into how sexuality can affect a person's game.
Through it all, Greenstein displays his depth of knowledge not only about the poker world but about the world that surrounds us. It is plainly evident for someone who reads the book that Barry probably has one of the greatest minds that is in the game today. He comprehends more than most can ever hope to capture and, with a few swift strokes of his pen (or, more likely, his keyboard) has graced us by passing the knowledge he contains to the readers of "Ace On The River".
For those that are into "only" the nuts and bolts of poker, Greenstein has presented a first class look at how to play the game at a professional level. He shows the mathematics behind the game, presents a look at how game theory is a part of poker (and useful in everyday living) and talks about the variables that affect the game as well. Barry also looks at how to determine what levels to play at, the Internet game and money management for poker players.
Where the book is additionally special is in the tutorials on poker that come from Barry's own personal experiences. He presents these with very accurate and detailed displays of the action on a real life poker table, which deviates from past poker books which only had a card display or, in some cases, a screenshot of an Internet game. This will allow the reader to immerse themselves in the hand at play and give them the feel that they are actually sitting there and attempting to make the decision.
When the situation is set up, Greenstein does not just present a one question test. He asks several questions that place you not only into his mind process but into that of your opponents. This is the optimal thing that he presents in the lessons is that he wants you to not only look at the game from your angle but also wants you to place yourself in the mind of the player against you. These suggestions are critical for anyone who plays the game of poker and, as demonstrated by Barry, is a must if you wish to play at a world class level.
The lessons are very useful and can be very revealing into different playing options that a player holds. Greenstein is also quick to point out his own mistakes on the hands, which is refreshing to see that even one of the best players can make an ill-advised move. In the appendices, there is a thorough explanation of the odds and outs a player can hold. These will be useful to the players who strictly play mathematical poker but, as Barry points out at several points, there is more to the game of poker than just math.
"Ace On The River" is a must have book for any level of player to have. It is an excellently and thoroughly written book (when is the last time you saw a poker book with a bibliography featuring Woodward & Bernstein, game theorist Roger Myerson and mathematician Edward Packel?) with more information on one page than most poker books contain cover to cover. Throughout it all, Greenstein presents the information in a precise and almost parental manner. He never becomes preachy or dictatorial, which would have been easy for most any writer to do. Barry Greenstein's "Ace On The River" is destined to become a classic work on not only how to play a professional game of poker but a look at the poker world as a whole.
Ed Note: Look for a special announcement Monday from Noble Poker that will blow you away.