I've played poker all my life. I learned five card draw as a kid, and moved up to seven card stud in college. During the late 1990s, I started to hear about Texas Hold 'Em from my older brother Gary, a serious player who won a few tournaments around Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun and Atlantic City. I quickly became obsessed with the game myself.
My best-ever tournament showing is third place, unfortunately, but I do pretty well at table play. There's a misconception that poker is unsavory in some way, or that players risk losing a lot of money; this is only true on The Sopranos or among clueless tourists, because skillful and experienced poker players are responsible and careful, never risk more than they can spend, and come out ahead as often as not. The average suburban Joe spends more money on golf or fishing than I will ever lose at poker.
I raised all three of my kids to play Texas Hold 'Em, and they're all excellent at the game. I'm sure the experience builds character; it trains important life skills like patience, awareness. subtlety. I think there's tremendous psychological and literary significance to poker, and that's why I occasionally write articles about the game here on Literary Kicks.
The Cards I'm Playing: Poker and Postmodern Literature is a book about poker, literature and the many connections between the two. It consists of four essays, all based on first drafts that were originally published as blog posts. I've restructured, edited and improved each of them freely, and I ended the book with a special coda: a short story (with a poker theme) by a well-loved Internet writer named Leslie Harpold who died in 2006. Please check out the permanent book page on this site, which includes an excerpt from the first piece in the book, "The Cards I'm Playing" and more info about the Leslie Harpold short story.
While this is a book about poker, it's really a book of literary criticism disguised as a book about poker. I think The Cards I'm Playing includes some of the best writing of my career, and I'm very proud of it. I hope you'll consider buying a copy for yourself, or for that special poker player in your life.
The Cards I'm Playing is currently available for Kindle and can be read with a Kindle e-reader or on Windows, Apple, Android and many other platforms, using a free Kindle reader. Other e-book formats will be available soon.
To read an excerpt from the book, please click here. To buy a copy, please click the button below.