Diary of a Mad Poker Player
by Richard Sparks

Our second PokerLizard Featured Book is one of the most entertaining reads to come along in awhile. Diary of a Mad Poker Player chronicles Richard Sparks' journey through cyberspace as he tries to win a seat in the big one at the 2004 WSOP. So for anyone who has played online, had questions about internet poker's integrity, or just likes a good read, we can highly recommend this book.

Sparks is a professional writer with TV shows, plays, and operas under his belt. That fact alone already catapults Diary way above most books on poker. Unlike the pros, who have a lot of good strategy and bad beats to recall, Sparks can spin a great story and turn an otherwise mundane online poker session into a rivetting read. He ranks right up there with Alvarez (Biggest Game in Town) and McManus (Positively Fifth Street). If you've read either of those masterpieces, then you know what you have to look forward to.

Mad Poker Player starts out with a line that all online players are all too familiar with: "It's late. I should be in bed." Thus begins Sparks' perfectly accurate account of the late-night internet world. He takes us through his thought process as he rationalizes playing instead of working. Luckily for him (and us) he decides early on to knock out two birds with one stone and write about his journey to the World Series. From there, it takes off as he enters satellite after satellite, many times reprinting entire chat threads from actual online tourneys. This is where a seasoned internet player will really connect to the book. Sparks captures all the glory of huge wins and all the pain of bad beats - along with the colorful language that ensues.

One of the most interesting topics covered in Diary is cheating online and how the sites deal with it. Sparks takes us behind the scenes as he meets with reps from some of the major sites, and puts the hard questions to them. "How do you prevent cheating?" "How do you deal with cheaters?" "Do you compensate the victims?" It's all here and in great detail. Richard's access as a media rep in last year's WSOP leads to some excellent insight into the growing internet craze. It's much bigger than you think.

Diary culminates at the 2004 WSOP, with Richard playing (you'll have to read it to find out just how far he gets) as well as interviewing a lot of players. It all makes for a page-turning and satisfying read, and we can't wait for his next book, due out soon!


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