Poker has taken the country by storm. Whether it's making headlines in The New York Times or being featured on CNN, the game has ascended to never before seen heights and its popularity shows no signs of dwindling. Nowhere is this more evident than the recent surge in poker books.
According to USA Today estimates, 60 poker books will be published this year. Companies like Cardoza Publishing in New York City are reporting record numbers, seeing a ten-fold increase in poker book sales.
Despite Cardoza's recent success, Huntington Press Publisher Anthony Curtis explained in a recent Business Press article that Two Plus Two Publishing, run by Mason Malmuth and David Sklansky, is the leader in the field. The two writers have accounted for 26 of Two Plus Two's 43 poker books. "They're pretty much it if you're going for the top poker books."
Malmuth cites the group's scholarly approach as the key to their success. "We have a reputation for putting out the very best books and we have no competitors in that respect. We're not putting out trivial books. These are like textbooks."
Two Plus Two's first title, Sklansky's Hold'Em Poker, debuted in 1987 after the company decided to start publishing their books themselves. The company spent the previous 11 years using other publishers to release their books.
The company has stayed true to its commitment to the technical side of the game with books like Harrington on Hold'Em. The book, written by 1995 World Series of Poker winner Dan Harrington, is one of Amazon.com's most popular selections, ranking 54th in sales.
Prior to the poker explosion of 2002, Malmuth and company sold roughly 45,000 books at $30 apiece. According to Malmuth, things have changed dramatically. "We think we'll hit 500,000 books this year."
Two Plus Two's grip on the industry however is under fire as new companies plan a series of pro-based books like Huntington Press's next title, Kill Phil. The book's title is a play on the fact that a number of Phils (Gordon, Ivey, Hellmuth, Laak) have taken over the sport. Hellmuth, one of the game's most outspoken players, is featured on the cover and also wrote the foreword for the book.
According to Curtis, the nine-time World Series of Poker winner gave his approval to the book's strategies put together by authors Blair Rodman and Lee Nelson. "Phil doesn't do anything that isn't going to further Phil."
No matter who the author or publisher is, one thing is for certain, there is no shortage of demand for the books. According to Malmuth, although the poker fever will reach a peak at some point, things will still be busy for the companies.
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