Many people learn to play poker around the kitchen table. They observe someone they know and trust, such as a family member or friend, playing the game and their interest is piqued. Around a friendly game or a casual conversation, new players learn the basic structure and infer key concepts. In order to improve, players often turn to books, training videos, discussions with other players, and coaching from advanced players or professionals. These various resources require significant money, time, and effort, and they are rarely entertaining. There is a better way.
Now, you can say you have a friend who is a professional. Andrew Brokos is a professional poker player, author, coach, and video instructor. He publishes the popular blog ThinkingPoker.net and he is co-host with Nate Meyvis on the Thinking Poker Podcast. His new e-book, is an enjoyable poker resource for novices and experienced players alike.
In The Thinking PokerDiaries, Vol. 1, Brokos shares an entertaining tale of how he went from financially insecure novice to independent professional poker player. From college games to online tournaments, and ultimately to the main event of the World Series of Poker (WSOP), Brokos has played at every level. Here he shares the background sought by novices and casual fans, along with the complex strategies he employed to expand his game and become successful. Along the way, we sit at his side as he plays against some of the top professionals in the game.
This is a very good effort. Brokos writes as if the reader is a family member or high school friend. The book draws heavily from personal communications Brokos sent to friends and family explaining what the WSOP is and how he was performing in 2006. This makes for an enjoyably casual, yet technically sound depiction of dramatic, high level poker games. To keep the book relevant and current, he’s back-filled the story with plenty of hands he played in the actual event and the strategy involved at various stages in the tournament. Even readers who have followed Brokos for years will learn something new, either about poker strategy or about his life, by reading this e-book.
I have no major gripes with the book. There are a very few errors, but they don’t impact the story. At times I thought the flow of the book was a bit jumpy, as Brokos takes us from a particular moment in the tournament to a strategy or background segment and then back to the action. However, the story line was not really impacted, it was really that I preferred to keep reading the action to see how far he would advance. The narrative is such that one almost wants to skip some of the strategy to see how things turn out. Considering the price level (and watch for a sale), this is easily one of the best values in the poker literature.
I won’t spoil the ending, but many already know Brokos has a very impressive record at multiple WSOP main events since 2006. That should provide ample material for subsequent volumes of the Thinking Poker Diaries.