Bigger Deal: A Year Inside the Poker Boom by Anthony Holden
Bigger Deal is a sequel to Anthony Holden's Big Deal published in 1990. I remember that first book; there are literally thousands of poker players who credit Big Deal with first getting them into the game. Now 17 years later, Holden has written a similar book but situated, as the sub-title says: "Inside the Poker Boom." Well there is good news and bad news about Bigger Deal.
First off, Anthony Holden can write and write very entertainingly and not just about poker. His literary credits include biographies of Shakespeare, Laurence Olivier, Tchaikovsky and the Prince of Wales. Of all the poker books you may have read or will eventually read; I guarantee Bigger Deal will be one of the best written.
The problem with Bigger Deal is that it will inevitably be compared to Big Deal. But the poker world in the late 80's is nothing like the poker world today. Most of the readership for the Big Deal had never been to a major poker tournament and certainly not to the World Series. Now everyone who might pick up Bigger Deal has seen all or most of the events Holden describes on television. We all know about Chris Moneymaker and hole card cams and the WPT and Jamie Gold and Mike Matusow and many of us are tired of that story. We already saw it on TV.
Now I certainly am more jaded than many of you reading this review. I live in Las Vegas, I will be at all 55 events of this summer's WSOP; I was there for every event last year. I have met the players and characters Holden describes and I can see behind the writer's curtain and I know what really happened and what really happens. I know about the endless boredom and I also know that hearing anyone describe their "tournament experience" gets really old, really fast. So I had to wonder; maybe it's just me. But one of my good friends suggested I reread the first book, the book I read before the Poker Boom and before I became part of the Boom.
To my surprise Big Deal is still a great read. Is it a better read than the fresh new Bigger Deal? Well I am not sure of that; the two books describe different times in poker, very different times. I guess the bottom line is: If you are going to write about a "Boom" in the middle of the "Boom" in a media saturated culture like we live in today, then you had better dig a lot deeper and find something that hasn't been on television in endless reruns for the past several years. The Bigger Deal just isn't a Bigger Deal and I really wanted it to be.
Amazon is selling the two books as a set, if you click on the Big Deal first. My recommendation if you are going to buy one then buy them both and get a little perspective on poker before the "Boom" and then "Inside the Boom."