Essays by a diverse group of writ­ers cap­ture the joys, regrets, friend­ships, philoso­phies, and adven­tures expe­ri­enced through neigh­bor­hood pok­er. This col­lec­tion of 52 orig­i­nal pieces fea­tures a sec­tion of prac­ti­cal and imprac­ti­cal tips for home pok­er games and a cor­nu­copia of fas­ci­nat­ing facts about pok­er paint­ings, pok­er movies, pok­er books, and oth­er pok­er-themed mas­ter­pieces of pop­u­lar cul­ture. An inter­view with Edie Adams demon­strates Ernie Kovacs’s pok­er obses­sion; Nick Tosches reveals Lester Bangs as a suck­er; Chris Ware illus­trates Bert Williams’s “Dark­town Pok­er Club”; Bill Zehme dis­cuss­es John­ny Carson’s celebri­ty pok­er game; and Neal Pol­lack dis­clos­es how his grand­fa­ther bru­tal­ly intro­duced him to the game. With far more humor and clar­i­ty than a for­mal pok­er guide, the­se essays encap­su­late the expe­ri­ence of spend­ing a long evening drink­ing beer and play­ing paste­boards.

From the Sacra­men­to Bee:
“52 juicy pok­er tales … all are infor­ma­tive, all are amus­ing.”

From Pub­lish­ers Week­ly:
“There’s no such thing, of course, as a friend­ly game of pok­er,” says James McManus, author of Pos­i­tive­ly Fifth Street, in a blurb for this enter­tain­ing col­lec­tion. So per­haps it’s best to play as Ira Glass does-online. Glass also pos­es the cen­tral ques­tion: “if poker’s so wrong, why does it feel so right?” Greg Dink­in describes the ago­niz­ing, moment-by-moment thought process of play­ing a hand. Bill Zehme explains why John­ny Car­son, who hates par­ties, attends ses­sions of the Gourmet Pok­er Club (“the card game becomes sec­ondary the min­ute some­body has a good sto­ry to tell,” says fel­low play­er Carl Rein­er). And David Quantick and Karen Krizanovich explain why Amer­i­cans prefer pok­er and the British prefer bridge (pok­er is more demo­c­ra­t­ic). Any­one who’s ever been in a week­ly pok­er game will find much to iden­ti­fy with in this delight­ful vol­ume.”

From Book­list:
The week­ly pok­er game is an Amer­i­can phe­nom­e­non, and this col­lec­tion of essays reflects that prove­nance as well as the spe­cial pas­sion Amer­i­cans bring to the game. Of course, there are sev­er­al pieces relay­ing pok­er anec­dotes, such as “He Who Steals My Purse Ain’t No Friend of Mine,” by Nick Tosches. But those make up only the first sec­tion, called “Table Tales.” There are also sec­tions called “Prac­ti­cal and Imprac­ti­cal Tips” and “Pok­er in Cul­ture” (where Dan Kel­ly, in “Pok­er for Bas­tards,” relates how one book taught him the Machi­avel­lian art of bilk­ing friends out of their hard-earned mon­ey). The essays are short and pithy, often sil­ly, and usu­al­ly just plain fun­ny. As the edi­tor says in “Fifty-Two Pok­er Terms,” “Part of what makes pok­er night fun is act­ing like a bunch of knowl­edge­able low-life big shots.” A nice, light offer­ing to com­ple­ment the hun­dreds of how-to pok­er books.