Book Review - Life's a Gamble by Mike Sexton
Book Review (Life’s a Gamble) – by Al Spath
Written by Poker Ambassador and Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton
“Life’s a Gamble” is like a 1964 muscle car. Instead of additional overhead cams and dual carburetors under the hood, Mike has “supped-up” this book with never before read stories ranging from Doyle Brunson’s golf course adventures (betting outrageously for huge sums of money), to how Mike’s life changed when a number of players (lead by Scotty Nguyen, got together and actually “staked” him into a Four Queens Summer Classic Championship event that netted him one of the largest and earliest cash of his eventual Hall of Fame poker career. He did so well that the First Lady of Poker, Linda Johnson at Card Player Magazine (and Hall of Famer herself), invited Mike to write about his huge win, and the rest is history.
Mike navigates the reader through countless stories which include his involvement with the creation of the Tournament of Champions (TOC) - thanks to the Orleans Hotel Casino Poker folks that bet on Mike, the development and timeline in the creation of the online giant Party Poker
, his first and much, much more. Not only does Mike provide the backdrop information, he explains in detail the initial failures, obstacles (black Friday), that had to be overcome (both financially and technologically), and how his insistence and astute “gut” feeling were used to convince investors and owners to preserver and achieve brilliance and domination in this new (at the time), exploding online poker market.
This “muscle car” is packed with extras and just like a 64’ Nova Super Sport with a bona fide maxed out 325/350 Chevy engine. The pages go by so fast your want to read it again and take in what you might have missed during the first read through. Once you start to read about the “history of poker,” in a modern sense, you realize that Mike has been right in the middle of the action the entire time. His perspective is “first hand,” his insights are “spot on,” and his “gut feelings,” lead him to decisions that helped revolutionize the poker sport and shed a spot- light on the good associated with competing at poker, not the decade ole’ depiction of a dark, back room, with shady characters sitting around with guns strapped to their calves, or knives in their belts.
Note: this might have been the way it was in the Wild West and even when the original legends of poker travelled the unofficial poker circuit and had to play in secret locations, where police and potential robbers would not be able to fleece them. However, Mike illuminates the very best the poker world has to offer, and none better example of this is his wonderful and colorful commentary on the World Poker Tour. He, along side a seemingly unusual pick for a co-host, actor/writer, Vince Van Patten, have developed a rapport and banter unlike anything in broadcasting. When we heard Vince first say: “This guy keeps coming back like a broke cousin,” we all knew the “color” he added was just want we needed to offset the meticulous analysis and reliable hand commentary from Mike. It’s likened to when they paired Howard Cosell with Frank Gifford and Don Meredith on Monday Night Football, what was ABC thinking? Well, no one knows why, but it worked, and the pairing was so good, it changed broadcasting in the NFL forever.
This book is not about how to play poker at all, don’t buy it for to learn how to win at poker. What the book really does is open the window into how the game developed; the extraordinary steps that were needed to propel it into the limelight, and those responsible for its growth and prosperity. They include many personal examples and stories that Mike has observed and been a part of, and without doubt, you will smile, laugh, bust a gut, and even silently cheer as you read “Life’s A Gamble.”
P.S. Mike, also, thank you for your service (82nd Airborne), and when will we see you on Dancing with the Stars? (His father was a ballroom instructor and quite good), and you also don’t know about, are his days as a gymnast – yes gymnast Mike Sexton! Don’t hesitate; this is the best Christmas Gift you can give this year to someone interested in poker.
Al Spath is the former Dean at Poker School Online and continues to teach poker live and online. His free YouTube Channel (Al Spath) has over 250+ instructional videos to view. Al’s live broadcasts are on TwitchTV: follow (PositivePokerInsiders). Contact Al directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
with questions coaching inquires.