He expects the “quantity and quality” of coverage of events like the WSOP to decline considerably once the last hand of the Main Event is dealt in mid-July. Lavalli particularly laments the imminent demise of “what was finally becoming a professional class of journalists covering poker from multiple and critical points of view.”
Phil Graham, who published and co-owned The Washington Post from 1948 to 1963, once memorably described the reporter’s job as writing “a first rough draft of history that will never really be completed about a world we can never really understand.” If Lavalli is correct and we begin to have fewer and fewer writers covering poker, a lot will be left out of that “first rough draft of history,” thus making it even more difficult for future generations to come to some understanding about what happened.
Speaking of poker history (and the WSOP), I have been meaning for a while to share this here list of poker players who appear in Al Alvarez’s The Biggest Game in Town. Alvarez’s lyrical study of Vegas and poker is organized around an account of the 1981 WSOP, the one which saw Stu Ungar win his second straight Main Event title. The Biggest Game in Town is revered by many as the gold standard of poker writing -- indeed, every one of those writers to whom Lavalli refers has been influenced and/or inspired in some fashion by Alvarez.
This list compiles all of the professional poker players mentioned by name in the book. (At least all of the ones I caught.) The list doesn’t include other figures mentioned or discussed by Alvarez, such as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Mario Puzo, Jimmy Chagra, John and Edna Luckman (the original proprietors of the Gambler’s Book Shop), and the like. Names marked with an asterisk receive more attention from Alvarez than do the others. The links take you to various places on the web -- player bios, personal websites, articles, interviews, even some discussions of famous hands. If you’re interested in someone, click on through and see where it takes you.
But if you haven’t read The Biggest Game in Town, don’t waste too much time. Go get yourself a copy and read it already.
Dandalos, Nick “the Greek”*
Jacobson, Milo “Slew”
Petrillo, Chicago Sam
Preston, Amarillo “Slim”*
Skinner, Curtis “Iron Man”
Wolford, Byron “Cowboy”
Labels: *by the book