I mainly picked up this book because it was advertised as an opportunity to get inside the mind of one of the best poker players of all time, famous for – or maybe notorious? – his aggressive, and some would say reckless, playing style. Now, as someone who pretty regularly bet365 in-play betting poker with friends, I was looking for an entertaining novel about poker for a long time – and boy, did I find one.
To be perfectly clear, this novel is by no means your typical romanticized novel about poker – it is a highly analytical, logical recount of “the Madman’s” biggest win at the 2007 Aussie Millions Champions. It is a hand-by-hand analysis of his amazing feat where he beat more than 700 players and took home whopping $1.2 million. As he played more than three hundred hands, at times it can be difficult to follow, but every play he recounts is thoroughly explained, including the contextual information. It is unbelievable to see why he bluffed when he did, and how that affected his opponents, how it changed the flow of the game.
Since he is well-known for the courageous playstyle, paying little to no attention to his opponents’ mind games, the possibility of putting yourself in his shoes seems too good to pass on. Instead of folding, oftentimes he forced his opponents’ hands because they couldn’t predict his behaviour. He would beat his opponents with only a pair by forcing them to fold, and then, when they finally think they comprehend his strategy, he plays a strong hand. At times, just reading the descriptions, I could feel myself clenching my fists, feeling nervous as though I was playing the hand at the moment. Another awesome thing is that his book was not written by a ghostwriter – he transcribed his recordings to make this book. Unfortunately, since English is not his mother tongue, at times it can be felt, but it doesn’t decrease the quality of the writing.
I truly believe this book will help any poker player – but especially those on advanced levels of playing. As he describes the rising tension and how he battles anxiety, you may learn a couple of really useful tips and tricks which will ameliorate your mental toughness in longer games.
In addition to the other qualities of the novel, “The Madman” wrote this book in a light tone, with a lot of humorous remarks that temporarily lift the spirits and give a refreshing and balanced perspective on poker. This in no way takes away from the seriousness with which he plays every hand, but reminds us of a healthy outlook on anything you do.
Finally, it might be worth mentioning “the Madman” might be better off going by his other nickname – “the Great Dane” because his reckless style cost him a lot (he lost around $21 million during his career). Nonetheless, I was amazed by everything about his personality and almost maniacal way of thinking he presented in the book. If you don’t try to copy him and just take the good advice out of it, you might prosper as a poker player as well. This is definitely a novel for poker players or those who aspire to become one!