Monday, April 15, 2019

Poker & Pop Culture Now Available for Preorder!

As I’ve shared over Twitter and Instagram, my book Poker & Pop Culture: Telling the Story of America’s Favorite Card Game is now complete, and in fact has already been sent to the printer in time for publication around late May-early June.

You can preorder either the paperback or e-book right now from a number of different outlets. (There will also be an audio version of the book coming soon as well.) Ordering from the publisher, D&B Poker, is the most direct way to get it (and the place I’d advise you to go) -- here is the site for that.

Looking elsewhere, you can also preorder the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and probably other places, too, that I’ve yet to discover. No matter where you go, if you buy it now it will be delivered to your doorstep right around the first of June. If I understand correctly, you also won’t be charged until it actually ships.

I delivered the completed manuscript back in early January, but after a decent amount of editing and additional work I truly didn’t have the sense the book was “done” until a couple of weeks ago. As visitors to this blog have probably surmised, a great deal of my poker-writing energy was poured into that project -- a primary reason why I’ve been scarce over here for a while.

I’ve appeared on a few podcasts lately to talk about the book. If you’re curious, you can listen to those to get a bit of a preview:

  • House of Cards, Episode 574 (January 20, 2019)
  • Thinking Poker Podcast, Episode 284 (4 Feb. 2019)
  • The Chip Race, Season 8, episode 5 (11 Mar. 2019)
  • There is an extract available over on the D&B site that includes the beginning of the book and part of the chapter “Poker in the Movies.” It also includes the table of contents, which gives you an idea of the book's scope.

    On those podcasts and in other situations, I have been describing the book as having a couple of primary purposes. One is to share the history of poker in America, starting with the very first reports of games and carrying the narrative all of the way to the present. Another important purpose is to tell the story of how poker has been presented in popular culture -- e.g., in the movies, on television, in music, in paintings, in literature and drama, in magazines and in a host of other contexts -- along the way showing how those representations of the game have importantly shaped opinions about poker.

    Regarding the latter (poker in popular culture), a lot of the focus in the book is on poker popping up in “non-poker” contexts. For example, in the chapter “Poker on Television,” I do spend some time talking about “poker television” -- i.e., the WSOP, the WPT, and all of the other “poker shows” that helped increase the game’s popularity, especially during the “boom” years of the 2000s. But I spend even more space describing poker being portrayed in TV westerns, dramas, and comedies -- i.e., not actual poker but fictional poker -- and talk as well about how those portrayals of the game have encouraged certain ideas about poker’s meaning and significance.

    Another way of describing the two goals of the book would be to say Poker & Pop Culture tries to share the true story of poker’s origin, development, and growth while at the same time provide a comprehensive overview of fictional portrayals of poker. It’s a lot to cover, which is one reason why the book is more than 400 pages long.

    When it comes to the true history of poker, a lot has been necessarily hidden, which requires writers like me to dig deep and sometimes be forced to settle for speculative answers to questions about the game’s history. Meanwhile, the fictional portrayals of the game might be a little easier to chronicle, but the “texts” nonetheless require some interpretation in order to figure out just what they are saying about poker and its place in American history and culture.

    I’m very happy with how the book has turned out, and how it kind of represents a culmination of the nearly 3,000 posts I’ve written here on Hard-Boiled Poker as well as all of the other poker-related writing I’ve done over the last 13 years. (The cover is pretty awesome, too.)

    Speaking of, eight years ago today -- April 15, 2011 -- if you had asked me whether I thought I’d still be writing about poker in 2019, let alone publishing a poker book, I’m pretty sure I would have said no. As many of you well remember, that was “Black Friday,” the day playing poker online was essentially removed as an option for American players. In fact, it still isn’t an option for most of us.

    I was in Lima, Peru that day, helping cover a poker tournament for PokerStars. I remember how disorienting that day was, and how a few nights later my friends and I gathered to enjoy each other’s company and contemplate the future, each of us thinking how we’d somehow reached the end of something.

    As it happened, aside from no longer playing online, the changes weren’t nearly as dramatic as we thought they might be. I was able to continue going on such “poker trips” to other countries and around the United States, too, and still do today (though not as frequently). And by continuing to write about poker, the seeds were planted that eventually grew into Poker & Pop Culture.

    In a later chapter the book does cover “Black Friday” and the wild “rise and fall” of online poker in the U.S., a topic that could certainly take up an entire book of its own. Indeed, many of the chapters are like that, in my opinion, capable of being expanded greatly into much longer studies.

    In any case, I’m super excited the book is coming out soon and to be able to share it with everyone. Feels a little like I’ve been dealt a premium hand and am now just waiting -- a little anxious, very psyched -- to see how things develop from here.

    You may be wondering whether or not it is “positive EV” for you to go ahead and purchase the book now or wait until later. I’ve actually studied this situation, and it turns out buying Poker & Pop Culture falls well within your preordering range:

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