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High On Poker

Lost Vegas, by Pauly McGuire represents the natural progression of poker narratives. First, there were strategy books (Brunson’s Super/System; Harrington on Holdem). Then there were books about the world of poker (McManus’ Positively Fifth Street; Craig’s The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King). Then there were the biographies of individual players, too many to pick a representative. Now, there’s Pauly.

Pauly is to poker writing what Hunter S. Thompson did for journalism in general. He is not reporting as much about the things around him, but rather how those things affect Pauly, the individual. A WSOP final table is not an opportunity to discuss the top hands or the story of the tournament, but rather an opportunity to appreciate what the tournament reporting grind is like for a guy who likes his drugs and poker, loves his freedom, and puts up with the daily chores of reporting. The real story is not who wins the Main Event, but how our intrepid author survives it all.

Along the way, we get an insider’s glimpse of the world of poker, free from the
self-interested white wash most tournament reports suffer. The most interesting characters, though, remain the reporters, a hodgepodge mix of free spirits all making their way reporting on the ups and downs of people playing a game for more money than most reporters will see in a long while. The reporters are at times envious of their subjects and at other times detest them, but they are all human beings, fully realized through Paul McGuire’s solid prose.

If you don’t read Tao of Poker, then Lost Vegas will probably be your introduction to the great writing and surreal world shared by Pauly. If you read Tao regularly, then you probably already bought Lost Vegas. Or at least you should.

To be clear, this is an unsolicited view. This is not an advertisement.

Until next time, make mine poker!

2 Responses to “Review: Lost Vegas, by Paul McGuire”

  1. pauly

    Thanks for the kind words.

  2. John

    I especially enjoyed Pauly’s strategy of mentioning Jesus to strippers in an effort to kill their game. Even better when it is used as a euphemism for vicodin. Haha. PS – hope you enjoyed the phish show last night even though KD wasn’t feeling it.

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