Book Review: The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King
The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time
By Michael Craig
Imagine a high stakes game of heads up limit holdem. Okay, now imagine a higher stakes game. Higher. Keep going. Almost there. There, now if you look straight up, you can almost see the height of gambling that Michael Craig is about to tell you about.
The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King
is the best non-strategy poker book that I have read so far, and one the most entertaining reads I've had this year. In it, Craig chronicles the story of what he rightly calls "the richest game of all time": a series of heads up limit poker matches that take place over the course of several years in this decade between Texas
billionaire Andy Beal and a syndicate nicknamed The Corporation.
Who was a part of The Corporation? Oh, just a few poker players named Brunson, Brunson again, Forrest, Harman, Lederer, Ivey, Hansen, Greestein, Giang, Chan, and many more. Why did they band together? Because they had to. Beal thought that if he played a mechanically perfect game and made himself as hard to read as possible, his probability of victory against even the best pros in the world would get close enough to even that if he raised the stakes enough, he could take them off their game and beat them. Just how high did the stakes go? Well, by the end, the small blind
was worth more than most people earn in a year.
Beal challenged pro after pro in the syndicate during his trips to Vegas, for days at a time. Did he pull it off? I won't reveal that here, but suffice it to say it's a pretty exciting story for anyone who enjoys following the world of high stakes poker.
The amazing thing about Craig's book is that he not only goes in great depth into a fascinating story involving a businessman who is notoriously private, but adds context in the form of brief but relevant biographies on many of the personalities named above. All in all, a terrific read.
What I loved: The book is a page turner, I could barely put it down until I finished it. The biographies are great, in that they are brief and hit the real high notes that help to define each of the top players. Finally, I don't think I've read a better or more exciting account of a poker game (or series of games).
What I didn't love: Well, this book didn't make me any better at poker, so from that perspective I guess it was -EV. Otherwise, few flaws.
Rating: (out of 5)
Note: Please let me know if you found this review helpful. I tend to read a lot, so when I read poker books I'm happy to put reviews up here if people find them useful.