Friday, June 07, 2019

Book News: Poker & Pop Culture Now Available!

Checking in again to let everyone know my book Poker & Pop Culture: Telling the Story of America’s Favorite Card Game is now out! No more preordering and waiting... order it today and you’ll have it right away.

I received some author copies a short while back, and earlier this week I got a copy of the e-book from D&B Poker as well. Here is a short video that provides a glimpse of both -- take a look:

Valerie Cross also wrote a nice piece about me and the book for PokerNews last week. Check it out: “Martin Harris Shares Inspirations for New Book ‘Poker and Pop Culture.’

Right now you can order the paperback from Amazon, and I imagine the e-book version is going to show up there soon as well. Meanwhile both the paperback and e-book can be ordered at the D&B Poker site. In fact, if you get the e-book from D&B, we’ve added a special bonus “appendix” that includes a list of “The Top 100 Poker Movies” with summaries, memorable quotes, and links to the films’ IMDB entries. (The appendix won’t be included with the e-book if you get it on Amazon.)

Also coming in the near future will be an audio book. Last month I spent many hours in a studio recording the book, and before too long that ought to start showing up as well both on the D&B site and Amazon.

Here are some places online where I’ve found you can buy the book:

  • D&B Poker
  • Amazon
  • Apple Books
  • Books-A-Million
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Book Depository
  • Target
  • ThriftBooks
  • Poker & Pop Culture is also on sale right now at the D&B Poker booth at the World Series of Poker there in the halls of the Rio. I’ll be heading out there next week for a visit, and I’ll surely spend some time hanging out there at the booth, too.

    As I say in the video (and have talked about here on the blog), the book provides both a history of poker and a history of how poker has been represented in American popular culture -- i.e., movies, television, music, fiction, drama, plays, literature, and so on. Thus the book not only tells you when and where and how poker has been played over the last two centuries, but also when and where and how poker has been portrayed, too, and how those portrayals have influenced opinions about poker and the game’s significance to America.

    There to the left is a picture of the list of the book’s chapters. It took me a while to settle on this way of organizing the book, and in fact once I did I had this piece of paper posted by my desk -- kind of a way to keep that “bird’s eye view” before me as I wrote.

    As you can see, each chapter covers a particular place where poker can be found, with that idea being applied broadly to refer to locations in history (e.g., the Old West, the Civil War, etc.), in media (movies, television, music), in society (business, politics), in time (the past, the future) and in literal locations (homes, clubs, casinos).

    The book is roughly chronological, starting with poker’s origins and ending with discussions of the game in contemporary contexts. But what I’ve really tried to do is create a kind of “geography” for poker with each chapter highlighting a different place for the reader to visit where poker exists. That includes real places, made-up ones, and many combining fact and fiction.

    It’s a pretty complicated story, really. One theme that emerges fairly quickly in the book is how poker occupies this very paradoxical place in America as a game both beloved and condemned. There are just as many examples in popular culture of poker being romanticized and celebrated as there are examples of it being censured and demonized.

    I’m not really an unrelenting “cheerleader” for poker in the book, having chosen instead to try to be somewhat objective as I chronicle and interpret all of these examples of poker from American history and culture. That said, I think just by writing a book like this I’m obviously taking the position of someone who thinks the game is worth studying and of historical importance.

    It’s definitely satisfying to have reached this point in the book-making process. Of course, there’s also that difficult sense of “letting go” while knowing I might have said more, or said things differently -- something akin to ending a poker session knowing that while you did your best, there were still hands in which you might have made different (and possibly better) decisions. (To mitigate that feeling, I hang onto the idea of a revised, expanded edition down the road.)

    Thanks to those who have picked up the book already, and thanks in advance to those who plan to do so later. And to you, reader of Hard-Boiled Poker, who inspired me more than you realize to take this interest in the game and writing about it in this direction.

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