Einstein and Hunter S. Thompson Drop Acid and Write a Poker Book – A Book Review by NoodleTheRiver

So it is one hour until midnight the day before Superbowl Sunday. One hour away from missing the deadline I set for myself to complete this writing task.

A book review on poker! An easy project for a POKER PLAYER you’re mumbling?

I have thought about this more than anything else for a week now and I still have not written or typed a single word. I have googled and binged or searched how to blog a book review and while I found the advice sites.  I believe the web authors mean well and are correct at first glance also I am glad someone took the time to write them, but I feel they lack in anything about how to make a book review both unbiased and entertaining.  So I will wing it . Let me reframe that as “Blaze my own trail and see where my imagination takes us.” I know what you are thinking. “Poker Players have the biggest damn egos” and you are probably correct. That is another topic for another day . Honestly, I will just be content if this turns out readable in any fashion. If it flops I won’t mind because I will have learned a bit  in the process right?. Right ? The question is rhetorical of course but it is a good segway into my book review.

The book is called “Poker Knows”  and it was written by the CEO of Pokerhoody.com who also happens to be a professional poker player named  Gene Hull.

Poker Knows Book
“Some folks think they are stuck with the hand they were dealt, while others can’t believe all the opportunity a situation presents. Some people love the rain. It is what sustains us all. Some people just get wet. The same goes for the role variance plays in poker. Learn to love it. It is your friend and just wants to play. Have some fun.”


 Gene Hull is from the  East Coast – Baltimore and Northern Virginia Area who is now living around  Vegas and available for poker coaching.

 Wait………… Problem .  I think figured out why I have been stuck in procrastination mode . What am I going to title this blog post?  

I have another problem and that is that  I really relate to the angle the author takes in this book conveying his thoughts and strategies.   I found parts of the book almost alike looking at myself  in the mirror  . Some of the material goes against the grain of common or traditional poker lines which I have been working and thinking about for some time now but never stated it clearly for fear of the backlash. This book  “blazes its own trail”. That doesn’t sound very objective, does it ?  Bare with me. This is a book about poker. It is supposed to have a few quotable moments and maybe a semi-humorous story here and there. It is not supposed to be entertaining but yet it is. An entertaining book shouldn’t leave you  feeling like you learned something important but this one does.  I believe have read close to 100 books on either poker ,odds, or probabilities and there are a select few that I can quote from years after I read them.I knew before I got halfway through reading “POKER KNOWS” that this would be one those books that would stick with me.  The cover of the book reads

There is a secret to discovering winning poker. Your imagination and courage lead the way”.  

This is a fitting motto for the book but I am thinking it needs something a little more catchy. I don’t have it nailed down yet but I am aiming at something that makes you picture

Einstein and Hunter S. Thompson (drugs of course) locked in a room and not being allowed to leave until they have written a book on poker that contains a strategy for winning today’s games at their highest levels.

I think I may have put it in a nutshell right there.  Wow, where the hell did that come from? Onward 

This is not a book for beginners.  I know all authors claim their book is for the beginner as well as the professional and all the guys in between. If I only had a dollar for every time I opened and poker book and read that.  Another thing I can tell you without giving spoilers is that this book does not teach you “HOW” to play poker. The book aims to help the reader get better at “Thinking” about the game. Describing variance, winning, losing, and learning can be framed in a way that a human brain can comprehend. If you read my last blog post you see why I may  have a little confirmation bias going on here and perhaps a little jealousy that the book was written before I attempted it and failed miserably  !!!  .

(It is now past midnight – Focus Noodle – The Book Review Dammit  !!)  

Without giving any specifics here the book sets to explain that math no matter how advanced is only as good as the human mind can comprehend it. Which is not much when it comes to comprehending the astronomical complexities involved in a just a single game involving randomness and probabilities, and unknowns such as in a multi-way pot in no-limit Hold ’em played that gets played until the river. The book also takes a deep look at where and when a poker player should focus their attention in order to reap the “GOLD” and profits in the game. The information is provided through entertaining stories and sometimes insane analogies followed by sound scientific theories. The author makes it clear just as I have attempted to do in my blogs but didn’t get close to the great explanation this book does that being observant, creative, and using your  imagination will always  trump the math and  GTO (Game Theory Optimal) play. I need to note however that although I agree with the author I do feel GTO is a fascinating subject and I highly suggest that every poker player has knowledge in it.  Poker is a  game played by humans so when you feel you’re up to the task of learning how to beat the human aspect of the game and move past the regulars / average poker players  then you are probably ready to read and pick up a copy and digest the information contained in “Poker Knows.” I am going to rank it in my top 3 poker books written since Black Friday.

WAIT . So I need to be a little objective here for christ’s sake .What did I not like about the book?

The book has grammatical errors.  If you have read enough poker books you realize that this is almost a hallmark of poker literature. As far as I know it dates back to Doyle Brunson’s Super System. I am starting to think that southern California and Las Vegas Nevada must have a  “shoot on first sight” rule when it comes to reliable publishers / proofreaders.  I  wanted to get that out there before the grammar nazis come rushing in and cloud the reviews up.

Next is the beginning of the book. You get the feeling right away that the author has gone over and over in his head on how to set the book in motion.  Sound Familiar ? Maybe it was procrastination . I would feel better bout myself if I think that, so I just might.  Anyway, another this is that the opening chapter tries to set a fun almost beat writer’s  approach to getting started which I am %100 on board with if I was the only intended  audience . I  really enjoy or “get” that style but I am skeptical of the rest of the poker world know who William S. Burroughs  or Jack Kerouac were and fear a reader may get confused and stop  before they get to the “Gold”  written in the pages this book is filled with.

Finally, I don’t see where this book is available in audio format.  I really think this book would be absorbed better is this format as the diagrams and graphs can be a little intimidating at first glance.  Also, I tend to choose audio over anything else these days because of my busy schedule followed by moments of extreme procrastination.

Given those issues, this book still gets my 5 stars on Amazon and I think if you read it you will give it the same . 

Well, that is it, folks !I have done it !  Is it possible I set the bar for poker book reviews ?. Maybe some poor chap should set about searching this big worldwide web such as I did for a book review template that works in a blog format and stumble upon this masterpiece or maybe he won’t but as the book being reviewed goes I let my courage and imagination lead the way and screw it I had fun and few beers doing it ! . Or something along those lines.

Disclaimer I was not given a penny to write this review however I did receive this book as a gift from the author Gene Hull during a live webcast interview with Al Spath . You can watch this can watch the interview here and I get the at the end after I call the author Gene Hull a   POKER “NIT”

Happy Superbowl Sunday Everyone ! I got $1500 on Carolina.

Be sure to come hang out with me live on every Tuesday and Friday at 5pm CST, 6 EST (US time) on Twitch TV  twitch.tv/heartbeat power or twitch.tv/noodletheriver.

Don’t drink too much and don’t drive and remember although it should be a national holiday, in my opinion,  tomorrow is Monday and a work day!



Also published on Medium.

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