From Publishers Weekly
Driven byESPN's coverage of the annual World Series of Poker and the TravelChannel's unlikely hit coverage of the World Poker Tour, poker is nowa hot item in American culture. Both of these shows feature a varietyof poker known as Hold 'Em, whose virtue, to television audiences andpoker players alike, is its fast pace and "action" (the number of betsplayers can make in quick succession). Watching men and women who canbet $200,000 on nothing and win has captivated a new generation. Pokerwriter Stravinsky's collection of essays, short stories, book excerptsand poems mines some of this excitement, featuring articles onthree-time World Series champion Johnny Chan and colorful Hold 'Emlegend Amarillo Slim. Likewise, contributions from Andy Bellin andA. Alvarez, both steeped in the contemporary poker scene, will feelfamiliar to the television-bred Hold 'Em aficionados. But much of thematerial, though classic-for example, Mark Twain's rumination on pokerin Life on the Mississippi and an excerpt from Nelson Algren's The Manwith the Golden Arm-are from a bygone poker world that lacks theintensity of the modern tournament game. Most of Stravinsky's choicesfall into this category. The selections are invariably well chosen:poetry by Billy Collins and Stephen Dunn, short stories by W. SomersetMaugham and James Thurber, among them, but they are aimed at an older,more literary audience and will have little appeal to the new, youngerpoker fans. This collection falters because it is unable tosuccessfully move between poker's romanticized past and its big-moneycelebrity-driven present.
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“Varied and well-balanced.” (Library Journal )