Review: Hunting Fish

Posted by in Pokerish

The one-minute review:
Upon my arrival home from the WSOP, I had two books waiting for me – Hunting Fish and Phil Gordon’s Little Blue Book. I picked Jay’s first, fully aware that my poker crush had written the other. And despite being a fair amount of pokered-out, I couldn’t put it down.

The full review, originally posted at PokerBlog:

Despite our rapid acceptance of online poker and the ease with which it puts us in nearly every game/limit combination imaginable, most poker players still imagine themselves living the life of Doyle or TJ, hitting the highway in search of a game, chasing after the win that’ll make it all worthwhile. It’s a poker players dream – pack a suitcase, hit the ATM, and leave all responsibilites behind as you travel coast to coast to see if you’ve really got what it takes to play among the best.

For Jay Greenspan, the dream not only became a reality; it got sweeter when he sold the idea of a book chronicling his cross-country poker trek to a publisher. The result is a fantastic narrative about the successful search for truly terrible poker players, and the drive great players have to put themselves to the test.

Greenspan starts his trip as a man on a mission – travel from his home in Brooklyn to the $10/$20 no-limit Hold’Em game at the Commerce Casino in California. Along the way, he’d hit as many casinos and backroom cash games he could find in order to build the bankroll he’d need to take a seat at the Commerce game. Greenspan played at Foxwoods, in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, and sought out home games in South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas, changing the names of his hosts to preserve their privacy, and meeting a cast of characters undoubtably similar to the ones you find sitting across from you when venturing to the non-virtual felt.

The resulting book is more than just a diary of Greenspan’s travels and the players he encounters. We’re also given a look inside the mind of a poker player as Greenspan takes bad beats, deals with being far from home, and tries to grow his bankroll. Most poker books are full of hand histories and analysis designed to help players improve their games; they offer nothing to the poker widow wanting to get inside her husband’s head, or to the parents not quite sure why their daughter sees a prop bet in every box of crayons. The story in Hunting Fish will not only entertain those on the poker fringe, it will give them insight into the minds of those they now share with the game. Players will find benefit in seeing hands play out through another’s eyes and as a result will likely will pick up a few more tricks to add to their arsenal.

At the end of his journey, Greenspan didn’t find himself as expected, but the trip was still a success. He played some poker, made some money, put himself to the test, and came away with a truly great poker story.

Hunting Fish: A Cross-Country Search for America’s Worst Poker Players is available now from St. Martin’s Press