Every Hand Revealed - Gus Hansen

I am a sucker for poker books.

As my favourite piece of applied game theory, I'd like to play a little poker, but there's no way I can get the guaranteed uninterrupted time. So, I get a little vicarious living through reading books instead.

This should be a deadly dull book. It's a hand-by-hand account of how Gus Hansen won a major poker tournament. It should be about as interesting as a ball-by-ball account of a major cricket match. However, I found it much more interesting than that. Part of it is the discussion of the overall structure of the event - seeing how a major poker tournament unfolds. Most of the interest is in the individual hands, though. Some bits are dull, but mostly it's got some life to it.

I think that this is a combination of Gus's writing style, his personal analysis of his approach, and the fact that you do want to see how the game unfolds. The analysis is very interesting - you could view it in parts as a tutorial by examples. This is to Harrington what Harrington is to Sklansky. It also, unlike many abstract examples, gets across how you can win a hand playing badly, or lose a hand playing well.

One of the things particularly interesting about his analysis is that his approach is madly loose compared to the tight play normally recommended in books. This means it's not just the same old advice packaged in a different format, but is also at least a little thought-provoking at the same time.

I thought I was weird for enjoying a book as dull-sounding as this, but all the Amazon reviewers seem to like it too. Fun.

Posted 2012-02-02.