- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (July 27, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470127317
- ISBN-13: 978-0470127315
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #931,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Poker Face of Wall Street Paperback – June 27, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
If you're looking for tips on becoming a better poker player, you've probably come to the wrong place. Brown does cover the game's basics and shares plenty of stories from his early card-playing days, which include Harvard games with the likes of Scott Turow. But he has much bigger stakes to discuss in this upbeat and entertaining guide. Drawing on his background at Morgan Stanley (where he's an executive director) and other financial institutions, Brown proposes that "finance can only be understood as a gambling game" and vice versa—and though the material can be rough going for those without some investment training, he's very convincing once all the cards are laid out. In an extended historical example, Brown shows how the economy of colonial America was jump-started by the introduction of faro dealers into French Louisiana. He sees the current financial market as filled with similar wealth-generating potential and believes "taking risks just makes sense" in such an opportunity-rich climate. Poker, then, becomes a tool for learning how to evaluate and embrace financial risk. Brown's model is instantly graspable, but so contrary to the conventional wisdom on both economics and gambling that it may well spark debate. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Named one of BusinessWeek's top 10 paperbacks for summer reading: "The Poker Face of Wall Street is a sprawling, idiosyncratic, and sometimes poker-obsessed work filled with nuggets about American history and finance."
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Top customer reviews
A few editorial quirks inhabit the book. His understanding of the Cold War is based on spy novels and "Dr. Strangelove." He uses the same politically correct mangling of personal pronouns as his academic colleagues. Occasionally his math discussions can be hard to follow. For example, he discusses what a bet on the World Series "is worth" without discussing what he means by that. In his defense, he does an overall great job leading the popular reader through the arcane fields of financial and risk mathematics.
One of the things I like best about this book is his generous referral to other interesting books. I've read several of those books and can verify he makes good recommendations. (Maybe in a future edition he will recommend Bernstein's "Against the Gods.")
Though it's not an easy book, it is fun, and one of the few books I will re-read.
While it definitely belongs in the same section, this book lacks the artistic genius of those other two works (which both operated around a central theme and masterfully completed an argument for something not quite definable but undeniably present). Poker Face fails to magically tie everything together and leaves one wondering what the moral of the story is a little.
That being said, the ride is quite enjoyable even if it doesn't really go anywhere. The discussions of the role of risk in economic development are epic. The story of Liar's Poker on Wall Street and how the author is single-handedly responsible for defeating it as a hazing ritual is triumphant. Analysis of earlier break-through works by icons such as Black, Thorpe, Sklansky, and others I never knew about is educational and well worth studying.
If you are looking for trading ideas forget it - there are three or four pages explaining some options arbitrage tactics but that's it (those few pages are the best discussion I have read on the subject, though). If you are looking for poker strategy prepare for an exciting discovery, as the author puts on paper some of the greatest stuff written to date about winning poker - and he does it without mentioning poker hands or even specific poker games. Your heads-up play will be taken to a new level if you are able to grasp it and impliment it.
Aaron Brown's work will make you a better risk-taker, and give you a different kind of appreciation for all things financial. You may even develop a firm commitment to leave the ranks of the sterotype middle-class, in one direction or the other. Hey, maybe that was the point?
There was a comment in the book about how Freud claimed that gambling is a substitute for [...]. ??? I wonder if it also causes acne, hairy palms, and poor eyesight?