Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Shamus and The Biggest Game in Town

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Every May since 2005, I reread two books as part of my the "Spring Training" preparation that I undertake before I migrate to Las Vegas for the summer to cover the WSOP. One of those books is Al Alvarez's The Biggest Game in Town. I won't reveal the other because it's an obscure book that is non-poker related and not Vegas-themed. During the last two or three years, I took the last week off in May to relax with my girlfriend on the beach in Malibu before the WSOP insanity began. During that mini-holiday, I dug my toes into the sand and devoured Alavarez's words.

The poker community dubbed Doyle Brunson as the Godfather of Poker, so it goes without saying that Alvarez is the Godfather of Poker Writers. I've always said that the Brits are among the best poker writers in the business and Alvarez blazed the trail that has since been followed by Tony Holden. It's no coincidence that some of the best poker scribes in the modern area (Howard Swains and Snoopy, to just mention a couple) hail from the United Kingdom.

Alvarez is a fantastic poet, which is why his descriptions of the WSOP in The Biggest Game in Town are enriched by compact and layered sentences that are hearty, illustrative, and powerful -- all in one punch.

In homage to Alvarez, Short-Stacked Shamus recently completed a sensational and entertaining six-part series titled "Rereading The Biggest Game in Town." It was so damn good that I decided to devote an entire post to linking up each part.
Rereading The Biggest Game in Town: Prelude (1 of 6)
Rereading The Biggest Game in Town: Poker’s Challenge to “Reality” (2 of 6)
Rereading The Biggest Game in Town: Losing (3 of 6)
Rereading The Biggest Game in Town: Playing Jimmy Chagra (4 of 6)
Rereading The Biggest Game in Town: Reality and Romance (5 of 6)
Rereading The Biggest Game in Town: America, Where Gambling is a Form of Patriotism (6 of 6)
Well done, sir. Shamus got me all excited to reread The Biggest Game in Town much earlier than May.

By the way, help support independent writers and buy a copy of Shamus' pulp novel Same Difference.


  1. Thanks, Dr. P! I focused those posts on just one chapter (Ch. 3) so people who haven't read the book can do so without having first read my yammering on about everything in it. Such a good read, and it really is the kind of book you can pick up year after year.

    I'd add David Spanier and Vicky Coren to that list of poker-writing' Brits, too.

  2. What's the other book?

  3. No more NGTFOOMO! lol