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Play Poker to Win
Thomas Austin "Amarillo Slim" Preston and Bill G. Cox
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (1973)
Other Publisher: Bantam Books (1976)
Pages: 179
Reviewed: 8/97

Amarillo Slim is one of poker's best known and most colorful characters, and when he signs his name to a book, you have to figure at the very least it's going to be entertaining. In that department, "Play Poker to Win" doesn't disappoint. It's filled with classic Slim-isms, entertaining anecdotes, and along the way a bit of poker strategy. (I'm assuming that Bill G. Cox was mainly responsible for assembling Slim's words into printed form.)

Of the book's thirteen chapters, eight are devoted to particular games, although they're more like stories centered on the games in question. While he does have a few strategic points to make, what I got more than anything from these chapters was a feel for Slim's mindset as he approached each game.

Interestingly, while Slim probably has at least as much ego as the next guy, he seems just as happy to teach a lesson based on an episode in which he cleaned out his opposition as on one in which he lost all of his chips. In other words, his ego doesn't seem to be tied up in the specific outcome of any particular game. In fact, he candidly admits in several places that he went into a game or a bet with the worst of it.

Much of the content of the book is subsumed by more recent texts, so it would be hard to recommend this book as a strategy manual. And some of his comments about women and poker struck me as at least mildly offensive. But it's fun reading all the same, and it's worth hearing a few Slim stories from the man himself.

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