Any gambling writer who chooses to describe himself as a "thinker" on the cover of his latest book must be conscious of more than ordinary powers. Fighting Fuzzy Thinking in Poker, Gaming and Life is the extensive title which Vegas-based poker player David Sklansky has given his new collection of journalistic pieces. One of them, under the heading "Will Power", he evidently considers so vital he has chosen to print it not once, but twice, in the book.

"It is often thought that one of the main reasons for my success as a poker player is the fact that I don't steam or `go on tilt' when I am losing," he begins. "It is important to understand that playing your best or quitting a bad game when you are stuck actually is an act of will power." (So important is this term, he turns it into two words.) It is important to understand, he goes on, that there is a big difference between thoughts and feelings, and in the short run feelings take precedence.

So one way Sklansky harnesses his feelings is to give himself great pride when he sticks to a resolution and feel great shame when he doesn't. "Make yourself feel more pain from letting yourself down than the pain you feel by exercising or losing, and your emotions will keep you on the right course, automatically," he says.

Will Power sounds a bit like the name of some half-forgotten star of early Westerns. I can see good old Will riding up to the saloon, hitching his horse to the post, and twirling his six-shooter round his trigger finger. "Hey bud," Will will drawl across the room, "you're on tilt ag'in! Y'all better git outa that li'l ol' game or you'll lose all your money."

In future I shall think of Will Power, like the neon silhouette of Vegas Vic, as a larger-than-life guide to keeping me on the right track. In one of his other "thoughts" Sklansky enquires: "When you are talking silently to yourself, who is speaking and who is listening?" Could this come under the heading "Against Fuzzy Conversation?"

`Fighting Fuzzy Thinking', from Two Plus Two Publishing,

226 Garfield Drive, Henderson, Nevada 89014, price $24.95.