Televised high-stakes poker has become all the rage lately, leading to an increased interest in the game as a whole and in the "stars" who win millions in big tournaments around the world. In an attempt to cash in on this new popularity, professional poker player Phil Hellmuth, Jr., has written his second book, Bad Beat and Lucky Draws: Poker Strategies, Winning Hands, and Stories from the Professional Poker Tour. While Philís first book, entitled Play Poker Like the Pros, was basically a strategy book, Bad Beats is a mishmash of information that is sometimes confusing, rarely interesting and badly written.
To understand why this book goes so wrong, you need to first understand one important factóPhil Hellmuth is not a good writer. He may be an excellent poker player (as he constantly reminds us in this book), but writing is not one of his strong suits. His introductions to various hands are awful, his stories are rarely interesting, and he just doesnít know how to keep a readerís attention. Phil would have benefited greatly from a co-writer or even a ghostwriter for this book.
A book by a professional poker player could be interesting if it had two traits. The first would be if the player was at least a decent writer (and Iíve already explained that this isnít true in this case). The second would be if Phil actually told some interesting behind-the-scene stories about players and their lives. Unfortunately, nearly the entire book is about one thing: different hands that are played, how they were played and why Phil agrees or disagrees with how the player played them. You can imagine how boring this could get. Add to this Philís tendency to swing between insulting other players and kissing up to them, his frequent tooting of his own horn (thereís even an appendix listing every tournament heís ever won and other accomplishments) and the overwhelming use of poker jargon, and youíve got a book that will probably not even appeal to diehard poker fans. It also seems strange that Phil can recall the exact sequence of hands (and what he was thinking) from events as far back as 1986, bringing the accuracy of these events into question.
Playing poker is interesting. Watching poker being played on television is less interesting. Reading about hands of poker being played is not interesting at all, and Bad Beats and Lucky Draws proves that.