Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holden On...

As I was mentioning over the last few days, the accommodations at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania were quite nice and overall the trip was a fun one. I didn’t really get to see the city so much while I was there -- indeed, I remained indoors the entire visit. But the driver of the cab I hired to take me back to the Allentown airport was generous enough to take me around the city for a quick tour of the old steel factories and the bustling downtown area on the way out, and I could see returning to the area for a vacation one day.

Even so, as nice as things were at the Sands, it was even better to wake up in my own bed this morning. And to think that I’ll be mostly sticking close to home here over the next few weeks with a few short trips to see family over the holidays mixed in along the way.

Been so busy over the last couple of weeks I didn’t get a chance to pass along that I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Anthony Holden, the great poker writer (and scholar of literature, opera, and other subjects) and current president of the International Federation of Poker.

The interview went up over on PokerListings just a few days ago, and in it Holden talks about the IFP and its mission, as well as about his favorite poker writers and poker in film.

I’ve been a Holden fan for quite some time, and like many include his 1990 title Big Deal on the short list of “must read” poker narratives. I have assigned excerpts from the book in my “Poker in American Film and Culture” class, including his discussion of the final hand in The Cincinnati Kid which I have students read after they watch the film.

In the interview I invited Holden to talk about his favorite poker movies and poker writers/books, as well as to discuss the IFP and what it is all about. For more you can check out the IFP website that includes all sorts of info regarding the organization’s mission, publications, events, and more. Started in 2009, the organization not only serves as a kind of central hub that connects 44 different member nations on four continents, but it also provides an important voice in the effort to highlight poker’s skill component.

Anyhow, go check out the PokerListings interview for more from Holden. And if somehow you’re a fan of high-level poker writing and haven’t checked out Big Deal before, go get yourself an early Christmas present, why dontcha? That title chronicles Holden’s year-long adventure taking a shot at playing poker professionally, offering a fascinating glimpse of the poker world circa late-1980s plus a comprehensive discussion of both the psychology of the game and its rich history.

Holden’s other poker-related titles are worth checking out as well. His post-boom follow-up Bigger Deal (2007) I wrote about here when it first appeared, and I reviewed his strategy book Holden On Hold’em for PokerNews when it came out a year later.

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