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181 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unlike any other poker book
The long anticipated 'Ace on the River' is one of the most interesting and unique poker books ever written.

Barry Greenstein has been playing professional poker for about thirty years, and has been a regular in the biggest games in the world for more than a decade, with legends such as Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese. This text was originally intended to be a...
Published on July 10, 2005 by M. Grapenthien

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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Left me unsatisfied, but still good for hungry poker minds
I have had a week to digest Barry Greenstein's pet project, his new book "Ace On The River." In short, I would recommend this book to middle/high limit, intellectual players who have a hungry appetite for poker books on broad ranges of topics, and have read all the other poker literature out there. Barry pens a lot of poker wisdom that has not been put into...
Published on July 17, 2005 by Geoff Rhine


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181 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unlike any other poker book, July 10, 2005
This review is from: Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Paperback)
The long anticipated 'Ace on the River' is one of the most interesting and unique poker books ever written.

Barry Greenstein has been playing professional poker for about thirty years, and has been a regular in the biggest games in the world for more than a decade, with legends such as Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese. This text was originally intended to be a chapter in the sequel to Brunson's 'Super System,' but when the first draft ran over 100 pages, the project turned into its own book.

The book is primarily targetted toward high-limit professional poker players, which is a very limited audience. Lower and middle limit players will find a lot of the material useful and interesting, but significant portions won't apply to them. Casual home game and beginning players will find a fascinating look into the mind and world of high-stakes poker players, but should definitely look elsewhere for instruction and strategy tips.

Part I, "The Poker World," is fascinating but not especially useful material. The first thirty pages is a memoir of Greenstein's life in poker. Next are chapters on the different kinds of people in "The Poker Society," "How to Behave in the Poker Society," and a chapter on the superstitions many have.

Part II, "Philosophy," contains miscellaneous ideas, advice, and discussion mostly relevant to professional poker players. There is little technical or strategic material, focusing more on psychology and avoiding common pitfalls. One chapter discusses the dangers of getting too involved in sports betting (a ubiquitous part of the poker world), one on integrity, others on attitude, the psychology of gambling, family, and even sexuality.

Part III, "Advanced Play," is the meat of the book, with chapters on math and game theory (how valuable they are and how they are used), internet poker, tournaments, specific strategic advice, and some no-limit tournament hands. These last two are the best in the book and extremely valuable, although not as long or detailed as I had hoped. Both go through several different hands, discussing the options at each point and what types of things the player should be considering, as well as how to analyze and think about hands after the fact.

Throughout the book, he addresses interesting philosophical questions like, "Who is the best player in the world (and how could that be determined)?" and "What really separates the very best players from everyone else?"

I had seen several glowing reviews from other top players who had advanced copies before I read it myself, and thus had very high expectations when I finally got a copy. From that perspective, I was slightly disappointed. My main complaint is with the brevity of the actual hand discussions, but what is there is excellent. Other parts seem a bit preachy without enough specific advice; see the chapters on avoiding being distracted by sports betting and remembering to spend time with your family. To most readers this might seem strange, but these are problems that have derailed the careers or broken up families of many otherwise successful pros. He does speak from personal experience on these issues and others, which makes the slightly preachy tone much more palatable.

Throughout, the text is well-written, articulate, and an enjoyable read. The book is filled with color photos on almost every page, and another reader I talked with described it as a coffee table book. It's rare in the poker world for someone with Greenstein's stature, intelligence, and experience to write about any of these topics, which makes the advice invaluable for successful or aspiring pros. At the same time, very little is so technical or advanced that it would go over the heads of others who are interested, some parts just won't be relevant.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Left me unsatisfied, but still good for hungry poker minds, July 17, 2005
By 
Geoff Rhine (Sudbury, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Paperback)
I have had a week to digest Barry Greenstein's pet project, his new book "Ace On The River." In short, I would recommend this book to middle/high limit, intellectual players who have a hungry appetite for poker books on broad ranges of topics, and have read all the other poker literature out there. Barry pens a lot of poker wisdom that has not been put into print before, but while some of it is definitely useful, much will be wasted on the average player and some sections are not as thorough as they could have been.
While beginners could certainly glean a lot of useful information from the book, strategy-based choices like Lee Jones' "Winning Low-Limit Hold 'Em" or Dan Harrington's "Harrington on Hold 'Em" tournament books (the best poker books out there) are better starting points.
Why is that? Well, for starters, there is very little in the way of actual hand analysis or traditional strategy discussion in the book. A chapter at the end studies 4 or 5 of Barry's notable tournament hands from the past few years, and a chapter entitled "Poker Lessons" goes over 7 or 8 problems in various games. But the purpose of these sample hands is to get the reader to start looking at poker situations in a different way, and that is ultimately the goal of the book.
In that sense, the book succeeds. But the problem is that a great deal of time is spent on topics like "Poker and Your Family," "Poker and Productive Society," "How To Behave In Poker Society,"...you get the idea. While these topics are certainly well-written and interesting, there's not a lot of solid, useable information for the average poker player to apply to his poker playing sessions from these chapters.
There are several great sections of the book, however, don't get me wrong. Topics on game theory, tournaments, math, and especially money management are full of excellent tidbits, and easy to read. But they are succinct, and like I mentioned earlier, leave you wanting more.
Buy this book to accompany your Harrington, Sklansky, Ciaffone, Cloutier & McEvoy, and Brunson and Co. poker books, where its glossy pages full of color photos and "nuggets" of poker wisdom will complement those more accessible, strategy based texts. Otherwise, steer clear, and come back only after reading those essential works.
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85 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars World, Meet Barry Greenstein, July 11, 2005
By 
Damien Del Russo (Dublin, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Paperback)
I received Ace in the Hole on a Thursday, and finished it on Friday. The book is an easy read, mostly discussion and history with very little thought required of the reader. The material is fascinating if you are a poker head, and should be mildly interesting to someone looking to understand the Poker World without delving into it (the wife or girlfriend, perhaps).

The hand analysis is easily worth the $25 price of the book. In fact, I would pay $10 per analysis if Barry would write them a la carte, maybe a book of 50 or 100. Although there are just a handful of hand discussions, they are really that good.

I consider myself an intermediate poker player, someone who has had some success and understands the material in Sklansky and Harrington and other poker books. For me, Ace on the River served to gather the disparate concepts and lessons from other works, and unify them into a cohesive poker philosophy. In short, it "got my head right". In fact, after finishing the book I entered a large online tournament and had by biggest win to date.

This is not an instructional text, aside from the hand analyses. This is a coffee table book, this is one man's history and treatise, this is Barry's gift to the poker world. Enjoy. World, meet Barry Greenstein.

Damien Del Russo
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Average Grinders Opinion on a Better Than Average Book, November 19, 2005
This review is from: Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Paperback)
It's a coffee table book with lots of pretty pictures for the neophyte.
It's a take on the world of poker by a high level cash game player.
It passes the useful nuggets of information test for a legitimate poker book.
It's well written and edited, no need for an errata list that some publishers works require, hi Mason.
It's cheap, 25 bucks list price for what you get is a bargain in the poker publishing world.
It's got heft, useful for a significant other to beat about the head of a degenerate who could at least learn something and lose at a reduced rate.
Finally, the more you buy the more likely a 2nd edition will be published with additional hand analyses so the word advanced on the cover isn't debatable within poker circles, please buy so it stops.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Life Of A Poker Pro, May 30, 2006
By 
Dan McKinnon (Tewksbury, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Paperback)
"This book is dedicated to the children of gamblers. They were rarely promised anything, because the promise might have been too hard to keep. They may have wanted to play a game with their parent rather than watch a sporting event on which their parent had placed a bet. They were told everything was done so they could have toys and clothes and a nice place to live, but all they wanted was a little more of their parent's time. I apologize to my children, Michael Sebok, Joesph Sebok, Chris Sebok, Christina Tran, Nathaniel Greenstein, and Melissa Greenstein, for when I have failed as a parent." --- Barry Greenstein (dedication to his book "Ace On The River", 2005)

This is not your normal poker book. From the dedication I have reprinted here, it's easily evident that this isn't like most books of ANY genre that you will find on a bookshelf. I've never read a dedication that elicited so many emotions which cover the spectrum. Most dedications are to children, spouses, parents, friends. While this indirectly mentions his children, it's the kind of dedication and the kind of words that take a strong person to write, a stronger one to put into print.

If you are looking for a poker strategy guide, this book isn't for you. If you are looking for hand rankings and learning about suited connectors, go pick up a 2+2 book. There are lots of them out there, and some are very good. While some hand analysis is examined at the end of this book, this book is meant to show you the lifestyle of a poker pro. Split into 28 chapters with an addendum, Barry peels back the glitz and glammer that you always see on television where edited highlights and spectacular bluffs make the casual fan say "wow".

Barry starts by telling his life story, and for anyone that thinks he worked at Symantec and then started his poker career afterwards, they are very wrong. Barry was a card player since he was a young child, and much of the money he made at Symantec was used to build and replace his bankroll for doing what he really wanted to do. While Greenstein doesn't deny making a lot of money at the software giant, it's more likely that Barry made a nice salary, but nowhere near the gobs of cash that others have made in the industry.

From discussing ways to think and act like a poker player, to bankroll management, to sports betting, sexuality, and remembering to put family first, Barry gives the most honest analysis of what a pro poker player's life is really like. The writing is pretty good most of the time, but it could use a couple more edits. In no ways does this detract from the book, it makes it more genuine, more Barry Greenstein. The pictures in this book are quite simply beautiful. Filled with 2-300 color pictures of players, casinos, and the poker life, you will be hard pressed to find another poker book with better (or even similar) photography. Some of the places where pictures were taken (like the high stakes room in the Bellagio) are off limits to most people. This picture from the 'Family' chapter is my favorite in the entire book.

If you want to move beyond your regular books and want to learn more about what makes a pro poker player a pro poker player, this is a one of a kind book on the market. If you are already a pro poker player and you need some more direction, this book will no doubt enlighten and enthrall you. Finally, if you ARE looking for hand analysis from one of the top players in the world, Barry covers some of that as well towards the end of this book and it's good, but Dan Harrington's book excel far beyond the little stuff that Barry touches upon here (no doubt it was added later to cater towards this type of audience).

For anyone that gives this book anything less than 4 stars, they don't understand how important a piece of work this is in the field of poker.

***** HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Title is very misleading....but still an interesting read, August 24, 2006
By 
J. Tone (San Jose, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Paperback)
This is NOT an advanced poker guide. I enjoyed the book and would have given it four stars if not for the misleading title. Don't buy this book if you are looking to learn about poker strategy or about actually playing poker.

What this book does do is give you a real look at what life as a professional gambler is like, and it gives some good advice regarding that profession. And it has some interesting and entertaining anecdotes. It should be titled an advanced guide to the life of professional gambling.

I bought it because I respect Barry's game and also him as a person. But I was disappointed because I was expecting more on actual poker strategy.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty and Sense., October 27, 2005
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This review is from: Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Paperback)
Unlike Doyle Brunson, who wrote the foreword for this book, I was previously unaware of most of what Barry Greenstein shares regarding poker and the poker life in these pages. Although, just like Texas Dolly, I totally appreciate his efforts. Ace on the River may not be the greatest poker book of all time, but it certainly is the most visually appealing. I'm surprised to be using a phrase like "visually appealing" anywhere near the subject of poker or poker players, but it is an apt term for this publication. Its photographic plates must have cost a fortune, and they are breathtaking. Every aspect of the poker life, from its participants to its ornate environments are reproduced in their (occasional) ostentatious glory. As Brunson says in the forward, it's worth the price just to flip through the pages and examine the imagery.

As far as people go, Barry Greenstein has lived in the most interesting of times. He uses the knowledge he has acquired to relay much to readers about the game of poker. With Greenstein, you never get the feeling that he's holding out or sandbagging information. It seems that he's telling you everything, or as close to everything as one can get in only 300 pages. Personality wise, he impresses as being an odd combination of humility, intelligence, self-righteousness, and indefatigable competitive drive. He doesn't take it easy on his foes, and he certainly doesn't expect them to take it easy on him.

His advice in the advanced play section is excellent, and the biggest reason for my thinking so is that much of what he says is not found elsewhere. A prime example is the discussion of odds. That AK is an underdog to all pocket pairs is not always the case as it depends on how many people have folded before you. Such an eventuality is not something I ever knew before, and it is true because the likelihood of more aces and kings coming out on the board is increased when it has been folded around to you. Overall, I thought the practice hand portion was highly educational. Like Dan Harrington, Barry's teaching skills are strong and he breaks everything down into minute detail. With his hand analysis, for me at least, the betting instruction is what really paid off. Winning a hand and knowing how to bet are two completely different animals.

However, my favorite moment in "Ace..." occurs when Greenstein exposes to the average person just how corrupt our government is. This man, The Robin Hood of Poker, donates his poker winnings to charity, and guess what? The government taxes him on 75% of what he gives away. If he solely played for charity, he'd have to file for bankruptcy. This should be a lesson for anybody who thinks that their taxes are charity. Taxes are, all-too-often, mutually exclusive with charity. Hopefully, the reader will learn this valuable lesson about the brutality of taxation from Barry's example. Greenstein's not a man's man or a woman's man; he's a poker fan's man. This is top flight stuff.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Poker Fans of All Types!, June 26, 2006
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This review is from: Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Paperback)
This is a great book for any poker enthusiast. The pictures alone are worth the price. It is probably one of the best looking poker books on the market. However, outside of the autobiographical section, most of the advice is geared toward a player who is pondering making the move to professional poker. That doesn't mean that the average player should not pick up a copy. Quite the contrary. Anyone can learn from such a disciplined and seasoned pro as Barry Greenstein. One of the more interesting discussions in the book is the charitable donations of his tournament winnings. Many people think that Barry is so wealthy that he can just give away the millions he makes in high-stakes tourneys. Barry points out that, yes, his career in the dot.com world did afford him the luxury of playing full time, but he is very dependent on his income from CASH games.

He also goes into great length to dispell the myth that is the glitz and glamor of the world of professional gambling. He points out that it can be a lucrative industry, but it requires a LOT of self-discipline. There are so many distractions that accompany gambling--sex, drugs, alcohol, sports betting--Barry discusses the pitfalls of them all. What he does is put poker playing for a living in perspective. His writing style is simple and easy to read. No complicated math formulas or probabilities discussions a la Sklansky. While he does discuss these things, he discusses them in terms we all can understand.

My favorite part of the book is his discussion of various tournament hands he has been involved in over the years. He presents the scenario (pictures to help) and then asks, "How would you play the hand?" After thinking, turn the page and see how he analyzes the hand. Sometimes his analysis differs from how the hand actually played out, hindsight being 20/20! These are very valuable for any interested tournament player.

Overall, this is a must add for any poker enthusiast, and would be worthy of coffee table display for even the casual poker/gambling fan.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ended with a Bang!, April 4, 2006
This review is from: Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Paperback)
This book was done really well. The quality of the paper and the photos are so good that you won't be ashamed to display this book. As for the content of the book, I agree with the other reviews that "An Advanced Poker Guide" is a stretch. The first two parts of the book is mostly filler (which is why I couldn't give it a 5 star rating).

Barry gives two pages on the mental game. I understand that poker is a mental game, but what is the point of putting in a chapter on the mental game and not provide any meat to it. I would have loved to see him refer other books to his readers, such as "Fearless Golf" and "With Winning in Mind" for example. Although these books aren't specific to the poker player, the material can be used by all athletes and both are very good.

On the positive side. Barry does an excellent job in the final part of the book. His hand analysis is great and I personally think that this part is well worth the price. I would like to see the first half of the book replaced with more hand and playing analysis. I only hope he writes a second book that focuses on this area and provides a more advanced view than this one.

Bottom line, once you read part 3 you won't be disappointed!

Troy
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much discussion on strategy, September 9, 2005
This review is from: Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Paperback)
When I purchased this book, I had the highest expectations to improve my game because I am very fond of Greenstein's style as a poker player. Unfortunately, his book doesn't live up to my high hopes. Greenstein mentions that this book originally started out as 1 chapter for Super System 2. Well, I believe him. There is very little here on what I'd consider "advanced poker". He does go into some detail covering a couple hold'em hands in big tourneys, but the rest is filler. Each "chapter" contains about 4 pages with lots of glossy photos to fill in the pages. Overall, this book could be best used for some general poker info , but to call it "advanced" is a bit absurd.
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Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide
Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide by Barry Greenstein (Paperback - June 30, 2005)
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