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Howard Schwartz

Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

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Craig's Professor, Banker, Suicide King Saga--sold 'inside' look at big-time poker

26 May 2005

By Howard Schwartz
Not since A. Alvarez's Biggest Game in Town, published more than 20 years ago, has a book detailing a big-time heads-up ($15 million on the table) poker action been written with such insight, gusto and flavor, as Michael Craig's The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King (282 pages, hardbound, $24.95). An unusual title to be sure so an explanation is in order. The Professor is Howard Lederer; the Banker is Texan Andy Beal and the Suicide King is the King of Hearts (for if you look at this card, he appears to be holding a broad sword behind his head--or at it).

This is a book about poker and people, what makes the players tick, what draws them to the cutting edge of the game, who the best are, how and why they play and why they chose the life they live.

Craig, a top-selling, respected business writer has also contributed to almost two dozen magazines. He has the ability to capture the personalities, their values and valued concepts, their need to maintain business sense, their attitude toward luck and their quest for a positive result at the tables. He writes about their attraction to risk and excitement the game brings, especially when playing for millions in tournament money.

Although not illustrated (I think it would have enhanced the book even more), this is well-indexed with names and places. It is packed with history, biographical and background material on some of the biggest names ever to play the game, taking you from poker's early days in Las Vegas to modern times and the red-hot action nationally, internationally.

Those who dream of playing the game as a full-time professional will better understand how and why few reach this high octane magic circle and stay there.

Craig has the unique ability to get into a subject's mind. He writes:
He (Beal) felt his problem was that he was letting the pros get to him ... he was playing too long, losing his focus. Once he became fatigued, he was easier to read. He knew he was becoming careless in many little ways: holding his cards differently, moving his body and head differently..."

The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King takes us to the game at its highest level of play. It is a story of achievement, survival, highs and lows of some of best in the business and Craig tells us about it ever so well.

Copyright Gambler's Book Shop. All books reviewed in this article are available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club), located at 630 South 11th Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101 and online at

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