Most poker books present, at the finish of their strategy, psychology or teaching methods, a glossary of terms that attempts to bring the nuances of the language of poker to the reader. These terms don't vary much between books and they do leave out some of the more "colorful" language that has been developed over the years. Now Brant Janeway draws readers into that vernacular with his latest book, "Drawing Dead To A Gutshot".
With "Drawing Dead" (now available in all bookstores for around $12.95 and also at the publisher's website, barricadebooks.com), Janeway attacks the audacious task of running down the terms, slang and colloquialisms that make up the game of poker. The game, having developed its own language, was definitely overdue for such an effort and, while it won't tell you what to do with those pocket Aces under the gun, it will make your telling of the bad beat story better after the hand is done.
Over the 160 pages that Janeway has devoted to this subject, I learned many terms that I hadn't known before the reading of the book. My personal favorites were "Darth Vader" for a pocket pair of two black fours ("the Dark Side of the fours (force)") and "Grand Jury" for a set of fours (twelve people make up a jury). There are others in the book that are more on the vulgar end and still more that will draw a chuckle upon reading. With this said, though, there were a couple of drawbacks that I found.
With all of these terms in the book, I would have liked to have known where they came from. In some cases (such as the "Doyle Brunson" hand, 10-2), there is accurate information given. In most, however, there wasn't this linking to the history of the game. I would have liked to have known how long the terms in the book had been used and if they were still popular as well (some of the more objectionable terms have long since left the lexicon due to the increase of women at the tables). There also were some editing problems that were demonstrated in the book. On more than one occasion there were duplicate entries for the same word and sometimes they appeared on the same page. While this was mildly surprising for such a well done book, it can and does happen in the publishing world.
"Drawing Dead To A Gutshot" is a great start for Brant Janeway. While it is not a strategy book, it does provide a glimpse into the development of the terminology of poker and the colorful way that poker players make the game their own. With some more background into the terms and some placement in the history of the game, Janeway would have brought a valuable dictionary for the game to the table. As it is, though, "Drawing Dead To A Gutshot" should at least bring a smile to the face of your favorite poker player if you give it as a gift and Janeway should be encouraged to continue his research into the language of poker.
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