Hunting Fish : A Cross Country Search for America's Worst Poker Players
by Jay Greenspan

Hunting Fish: A Cross Country Search for America's Worst Poker Players is an excellent title for a poker book; unfortunately, the rest of the book doesn't quite live up to the title's promise. That's not to say that the book isn't a valuable resource, just that I was expecting more out of it.

The book is written by Jay Greenspan a professional writer of technical programming books (mostly MySQL and PHP) and aspiring poker pro. Jay has decided to find out if he has the poker chops to become a full-time poker pro. He plans a three month odyssey across the country to see if he can build up his bankroll enough to effectively compete in one of the bigger no limit games at poker's biggest card room - The Commerce in Los Angeles. Similar journey's have taken place in Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Player by Anthony Holden, The Biggest Game in Town by A. Alvarez, and some lesser known works.

The book seems like an interesting idea and it starts out well with Jay playing his way down the east coast, Jay plays in established casinos such as Foxwoods and plays in some legal and not so legal backroom games.The Author does an excellent job in telling the technical aspects of his game but does a relatively poor job of relating the emotional side of what it's like to be at the table. He also doesn't tell us enough stories from the felt, on a few occasions he'll sum up an entire day of poker in one or two hands or he just gives a summary of the day saying he won or lost X amount on X day. I was left wanting to know how he played and won or lost more of those key hands and how he felt while he was playing them. I think the book starts to lose steam as Jay's enthusiasm for life on the road starts to wane, he misses his fiance, friends, good food, stimulating name it.

Jay is condescending to the people he is playing, especially once he reaches the south, mostly referring to them in stereotypical ways. I know it is necessary to have confidence at the table to be successful, but I think he goes over the top a little. One of his primary complaints on the journey is that the games he is finding aren't rich enough for him to reach his goal so he goes back to his hotel and plays some higher stakes on the internet, which is understandable but doesn't lend itself to very compelling reading. Whether Jay makes his goal or not, I'll leave up to you to find out.

After reading all that, you are probably wondering where the value I referred to in the first sentence is located. Where the book really shines is in Jay's very accurate and straightforward description of what life on the road as a poker pro would be like, the loneliness, the lack of connection with other people, how hard it would be on his fiance, and how the mind numbing grind could eventually kill the love he has for poker, there is definitely no romanticizing of the poker lifestyle here. For this reason alone, If you are an aspiring poker pro, I would recommend you read this book. Otherwise, if you are just a casual poker fan or player, not enough interesting things happen to Jay on his trip to make this a worthwhile book.

Review by Donald Key.

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