Most poker books cover game strategy. Which hands to play, which hands to fold; how to bet a pair of Kings, when to raise and when to call. This book addresses none of that.
Instead, author Larry W. Phillips melds the Zen philosophy with the game of poker, and leads the reader through the application of this age old philosophy of peace and harmony to a game of confrontation. Phillips presents 100 Rules of Poker, each grounded in a facet of Zen philosophy. Rules include the whole gamut of the game, from choosing your confrontations to table etiquette; and from accepting the rhythm of the game to dealing with bad beats.
The book is surprisingly easy to read, with most people able to finish it and digest its contents in a single weekend. If you've had enough advice on starting hands and betting strategy, this book is a refreshing change.
The book has not been revised since its first publishing in 1999. For this reason, it does not address how the game has changed in recent years. One of the appendices covers Poker Software, which at the time of publishing was limited to practice play against computer generated players.
The book does not directly address on line play against opponents on the Internet, and focuses heavily on live, brick and mortar games.
Throughout the book, the author quotes various Zen masters, as well as authors of books applying Zen philosophy to pursuits such as the Martial Arts, archery and mountain climbing. What's interesting is that the quotes are taken out of a context unrelated to poker, yet the concepts being presented in those quotes are still applicable to our favorite game.
Respected Professional Poker Player Howard Lederer names Zen and the Art of Poker as one of his favorite poker books. Another of his favorites is Zen and the Art of Archery, written by German author Eugen Herrigel. Herrigel is quoted often in Phillips' book.
I give this book 4-1/2 stars. Although it is slightly outdated, the refreshing approach to the game of poker is welcome. The book really is an easy read, and even the most advanced poker player may be pleasantly suprised with what they learn from the book. I highly recommend it.
Posted by liedka on May 02, 2005 - 04:31 AM
Herrigel's book is wonderful. It has been two decades since I read it....maybe I outta go dig it out of whatever corner it is in and re-read it. [It led me to writing one of the better essays of my college career].
Your description of the poker book -- and the information that Lederer likes it (and Herrigel) means I will be reading it sometime soon. Thanks for bringing an interesting book to my atttention.
Posted by duce_the_goose on May 22, 2005 - 06:37 PM
this is a really good review, I actually want to read it ^_^ I just might go out and get it