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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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Matros' Making of a Poker Player Leads the Way in New GBC Arrivals

13 Apr 2005

By Howard Schwartz
Mark Matros plays well and writes well. His new poker book, The Making of a Poker Player: How An Ivy League Math Geek Learned to Play Championship Poker (286 pages, paperbound, $14.95) is a new arrival at Gambler's Book Shop along with Glenn McDonald's Deal Me In! Online Cardrooms, Big-Time Tournaments, & the New Poker (254 pages, paperbound, $19.99) and The Russ Bailey Guide to Limit Texas Hold 'em Poker by Dan Krier (100 pages, paperbound, $8.95).

Matros, who has won more than a half-million dollars on the World Poker Tour, finished third in the World Poker Tour Championship in 2004 is a Yale University graduate with a degree in mathematics. (He is working on his second poker book and a novel.)

"My passion for poker has allowed me to make money and travel the country meeting intelligent players of all kinds -- old and young. ...This book tries to create the same passion for the reader, and allow him or her to become a winning player," Matros says.

This is a strategy book through and through. The first five chapters teaches the basics. These are followed by instructions on how a beginner should approach the game. In this section, Matros also explains how a tournament works and how new players can survive. Using his own experiences, explains the differences between limit- and no-limit play, how to set up a home game and how to interpret opponents' body language. He moves into intermediate play strategy, then follows with more advanced material including game theory; hand analysis, online poker and how to learn from losing.

This smooth-reading, fact-packed, thinking-man's guide to hold'em reflects the energy and love for the game that many player-writers have difficulty relating. Matros succeeds. He is familiar with other poker books and authors, their style of writing and playing, their attitude toward the game and how the game is ever-changing. You'll like this book and learn from it. Kensington Books published it at a marvelous price.

Deal Me In! by McDonald focuses on online poker in 18 chapters, most of which are geared to this form of Internet wagering. For the beginner, it's a must-read, to prepare, hone skills and to answer a truckload of questions regarding tournaments; the types of games played; setting up accounts; table etiquette.

Interspersed with charts, tables, cartoons, illustrations and quotes, the advice is both informative and entertaining. Poker terms are explained, samples of what you can expect to see when playing online are shown and it's a smooth read from start to finish.

The Russ Bailey Guide to Limit Texas Hold 'em Poker by Krier is dedicated to an old-time player (Bailey, who died in 2003) who taught the author a good deal of what he knows today.

This is not as fancy book but it's well priced and packed from cover to cover with advice and strategy for the player who already knows the basics but needs some "filling in" type of tutoring.

The book contains major sections on pocket card ranks; game play and advanced strategies and bluffing. This is a book which directs its attention not only to what's important, but why it's important to make certain moves.

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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