Poker Nation, by Andy Bellin

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The Independent Culture

Occasionally, a book slips through the reviewing net only to be plucked from the shelves several years later and prove so compelling it demands belated recognition. Thus it is with 'Poker Nation', whose only fault is that it should be twice as long.

It details the life and times of Andy Bellin, "a failed astrophysicist" in the words of his father, who became a semi-pro poker player in New York, Las Vegas and points west, and is in turns a confession, "how to" manual, lexicon and rollicking yarn, shot through with a full house of memorable characters and anecdotes. An excellent player who by his own admission is one rung below true greatness, Bellin achieves the difficult feat of portraying his world in all its sticky-carpeted, sudorific squalor, while at the same time making it sound heart-thumpingly gripping and glamorous.

But before getting out the credit card and heading for some heavy action of your own, just reflect – you are by no means the only person to have read this classic.

Published by Yellow Jersey Press in paperback, £8.99

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