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Zen and the Art of Poker: Timeless Secrets to Transform Your Game Paperback – Bargain Price, November 1, 1999

51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Many readers of this original book, which mixes Zen and poker, will find it difficult to grasp Zen theories in which one becomes an arrow, is the ball, and becomes one with poker and the universe. In gambling, it's easier to be a cynic, but an open mind will be necessary in accepting the knowledge of the bodhi tree. The poker enthusiast has only one objective in winning money. Phillips, a journalist and poker pro, perhaps with his tongue in his cheek implies that an individual will be rewarded with an almost psychic internal peace by the practices and theories of Zen. The true poker player or gambler, however, is by nature intuitive, compulsive, aggressive, calculating, relentless, and one-dimensional. Still, the author's approach makes this an entertaining and well-written work worth perusing. He gives 100 useful rules for improving one's play plus proverbs and theories that are great to mull over. As to the challenge of finding peace in folding, there is no way of doing it and maintaining sanity. Highly recommended for public libraries.AMarty Soven, Woodside, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Read it once, read it twice, and read it once again. -- David R. Huberman

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452281261
  • ASIN: B0085SJTLU
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,849,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Ever wonder how people like Howard Lederer win so much cash over the long haul in poker? It isn't that line he and other pros like Phil Hellmuth always give ("I see into the soul of the other player"). Poker pros say that as a standard defense just in case they ever run into you at the table, so they can intimidate you (hey, these pros aren't stupid, they realize psychology is a huge factor to Texas Hold-em)... The real key is patience (a simple, yet very difficult concept in poker). It is pretty well known that Lederer has gotten into Zen over the last year or so (and his game has soared to even higher levels then before). Don't worry, there is no chanting or other mystical weirdness in this book, just 100+ quality concepts of fundamental, intermediate and advanced poker techniques and tactics. The key is being able to implement them into your game. I would guess only 20% or so of you reading this have what it takes to do that (just human nature)... If you can implement these techniques, there is no doubt you will win consistantly, whether you play on the internet or in traditional card rooms. I would imagine those who wrote bad reviews for this book are the aggresive type players who are unable to play a quality "thinking man's" or "woman's" game. The bottom line is, do you want to win cash or do you want to be a maverick who may hit a lucky big pot here and there, but ultimately give all their chips away to guys like Lederer, Dan Harrington, Erik Seidel and Andy Bloch. Yeah, I know, those are not the most flashy players around, but they are guys who probably have the most cash in their bank accounts. The truth is, grinders win. And this book should be part of any personal poker instructional library (the format of it is also great as it lends itself to not only cover-to-cover analysis, but quick reference as well).
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book sets out to achieve a clear and reasonable goal of applying Zen to help your poker game. It describes the limitations in doing this in a clear and reasonable manner.
Many of the concepts set out by the book are very useful. What really marrs the book is the occasionally mention of ways of detecting and leaving a cold table early and like issues. That part of the book is just incorrect.
I'd suggest this book for anybody (isn't that all of us) that occasionally or not so occasionally has troubles with emotions coming inbetween plan and execution. Read each section critically and I believe the sum output is well worth the cost.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Carol on August 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Kudos to Larry Phillips! I am a person who is very technical in approach. I was frustrated with why I understood how to play poker, yet was not winning consistently. Then I read Zen and the Art of Poker. I realised that I had mastered the rules of the game, but not myself. Having watched the emotions of many poker players, I can tell you that what is missing in their game, can be found in this book. I was amazed at what a difference it made. This book teaches you how to make peace with poker. When it comes to a bad day at poker (and we all have them), this book will be the difference between going home angry and going home wiser. Usually when you buy a book, you take money out of your pocket; this book is responsible for much money going into mine. So buy this book and next time we meet at the poker table, just remember who you have to thank for pointing you in the right direction.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mathew Benjamin Scheeren on April 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
This along with David Apostolico's "Tournament Poker & the Art of War" is the Number 1 book that has totally transformed my game. I used to be a big Sklansky fan until I first found Apostolico's book. After reading that, I hit the delete button on 95% of the Sklansky material that I had memorized and I never looked back.

Now, after months of playing with an "Art of War" attitude, I have finally found the cherry to my Sundae. Zen and the Art of Poker has taken my game to heights that I never knew it could reach. If you want to play like the greats, than this book will show you how. Imagine having the skills of Phil Ivey and the patience of Chris Ferguson, if that's what your looking for, than this is the book that can help you get there.

There is a little bit of fluff (just a tiny bit), which is at the end of the book, but everything else is top notch. The information could have been condensed a little bit further from what it was, but the extra details do clear up any questions that might come up. Plus I loved the quotes from Zen Practitioners, Sports Player's, and the like. It reminds me of the Aposotolico books where all of them are extremely relevant to the topics at hand.

Overall: **** 4 1/2 Stars!!! Definatley a Must Have in any Successful Poker Player's Library!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Smauggy on November 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
My regular poker game is a high-level no-limit hold-'em game much larger than the games that Phillips describes --- a big-winner in a session will take home $10-20k. After 5 years of playing in this game and learning the hard way how to be a consistent winner, I was struck by how on-target Phillips points were. Poker is technically not a very difficult game, but it requires profound self-discipline and attunement to the emotional states of other players and yourself. The detachment that Phillips advocates is precisely the state you need to be in to win over the long run.

The Zen theme is both overwrought and shallowly applied; the writing is amateur; the quotes from Zen masters and philosophers are gratuitous and too numerous --- but the concepts are dead on.
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