Review: Professional Poker – The Essential Guide to Playing for a Living

4 Star, Book Reviews

July 28, 2007

Author: Mark Blade

Publisher: Brownfield Publishing

This is the best starting point in the poker literature for the aspiring poker pro. I don’t mean amateur. I mean aspiring pro. It lays out, in very direct fashion, how to go about getting a long lasting, stable poker career. This book could be considered a much-needed compilation and reorganization of the career related information from various 2+2 and Caro books plus additional insights from the author’s career. While much of the information could be found elsewhere, you would have to pay 10x the cover price to get it in pieces. So this book provides a very reasonable service.

The information in this book is focused on limit play (not no-limit/tournament) and there’s a good reason for that. Most tournament “pros” are broke. Dead broke. Playing on borrowed money, staked, or just not sure how they’re going to fly back to Vegas/LA when the Spokane Classic is over and they’ve yet again failed to cash. When their staking well runs dry or their friends call in the loans/cut them off, they’ll be back to flipping burgers or worse yet dealing with loan sharks. In other words, such “pros” are the antithesis of what Mr. Blade is trying to give you: a stable, solid career that you will still have in 20 years, playing on your own money, with the ability to take out very comfortable living money each of those years. However, most of the topics in the book either apply to no-limit play or have a specific no-limit/tournament section so if you want to go down that road this book still tells you how to proceed.

There are many good aspects to this book. First and foremost, it is written in a logical manner by a student of the poker literature, and as such is free of the theoretical mistakes that plague too many poker books. Second, he’s done just what his target audience is trying to do – made a long lasting pro career for himself. Third, it covers the key topics: deciding whether to become a pro (hint: usually the answer is that it’s a bad idea), bankroll management, learning the game, and the impact of your new career on your life as a whole. Fourth, the information contained in this book is uncommonly accurate & realistic – I believe Mr. Blade put substantial effort into fact-checking. There are no erratas on the 2nd edition, and those on the 1st are minor.

There are some flaws in this book: it makes excessive references to Mr. Blade’s website, which as of the writing of this review has little useful content. In the same vein, it references two books that Mr. Blade apparently intends to write (Professional Poker 2/3), but which are not in print. Not very helpful. And Mr. Blade has a somewhat sarcastic tone that will further put off anyone not inclined to agree with him out of the shoot.

Whether or not you like this book is going to depend largely on who you are. Many amateurs won’t like it because it shatters the illusion of the glamorous poker career and replaces the giddy excitement of putting 1/3 of your bankroll on the felt with the reality of grinding out a living at poker. People with lots of “gamble” in them will likely despise it, and they should instead just gamble the cover price away on craps since that’s what they do with their money anyways. But rational, calm, temperate people who are aspiring to a pro poker career will find here the guide they need to make it happen.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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