Book Preview – Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies from Poker’s Greatest Players

:: snake

I never finished Positively Fifth Street.

And it’s not because I don’t enjoy a good poker story.

What I read I loved. The salacious tale of a Vegas stripper, her murderous affair, the fascinating courtroom theatre woven into a primer on the history of hold’em and a firsthand account of an amateur’s rise to the final table of the biggest poker game on the planet. If it wasn’t non-fiction, you’d pass it off as neo-poker-noir, of the unbelievable kind.

But again, I never finished the book, and that’s because I never finish any book I buy, at least I haven’t since junior high (I believe it was Count of Monte Cristo that last kept me until the final page). I’m more of a movie kind of guy I guess, and yes, you could imagine my pleasure when The Count of Monte Cristo returned to the silver screen a few years ago, Jim Caviezel and all.

Don‚Äôt get me wrong though. I‚Äôm intrigued by the two-dimensional literary medium, and when I hear about a good bounded one coming to a Borders near me I‚Äôm quickly off to that land of aisles and lattes to pick it up, if not for purchase, for a long sit and read. And such is particularly the case when I hear that a good poker book is out, and even more so if it‚Äôs one whose subjects are true-life characters, whether living or no longer (sorry Worm, you’re still the best of the fictional bunch).

So while browsing around the pokernet today I discovered a new poker book that‚Äôs dropping May 5 on a shelf near you, and it looks to be a must buy. It‚Äôs called Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies from Poker’s Greatest Players, written by Michael Kaplan and Brad Reagan.

A quick glance at its cover at and it would be easy to dismiss. A read of an excerpt over at though and it looks like it will be difficult to put down.

Well, at least at first.

Here’s a sample:

“Stu Ungar’s pockets bulged with $100 bills. He dressed in Versace and kept a closet full of custom-tailored silk slacks. Tens of millions in cash passed between his manicured fingernails and dropped into the pockets of hustlers, drug dealers, and whores. During his first time on a golf course, Ungar gambled away $80,000 before getting off the practice green. On the streets of Las Vegas he wrecked five Jaguars and a Mercedes-Benz. He turned down an invitation to the White House (“I wouldn’t know which fork to use”), and once proved to be of drinking age by slapping $20,000 down on the bar. “What kind of teenager walks around with all this money in his pocket?” he demanded to know.

But this book isn’t all about Stu. It gets into the behind-the-cards histories of poker luminaries such as Doyle Brunson, “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Howard “The Professor” Lederer, Erik Seidel and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.

Rumor also has it, from Page Six no less, that there’s some goodies in there about the mob and get this, that Lederer was once accused of running a bookmaking outfit tied to the Genovese and Gambino families.

Who would have thought?

So when Aces and Kings is finally out this May 5, go buy it.

I sure will.

Whether or not I’ll make it to the last page, well, I wouldn’t bet on it.


2 Responses

  1. Paul

    May 2, 2005 5:09 pm, Reply

    Sounds like a good one. I’ll definitely read it. Although I enjoyed “Positively Fifth Street”, I’m more into the down and dirty on the game itself as well as the players and their shenanigans on and off the table.
    Anybody seen “High Roller-The Stu Ungar Story”? I give it a C+ at best. If there is any truth to it, TJ really tried his best to help Stuey. Too bad. Damn, was he good. Apparently, there is book on “the kid” coming out this summer.

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