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Anthony Holden
Anthony Holden
Anthony Holden at play in the World Series 2006
Big Deal
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Bigger Deal
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Anthony Holden was born in Southport, Lancashire, England on 22nd May 1947

Anthony Holden leads the way when it comes to producing a poker book written in English prose that everyone, including non-poker players, can read and digest. (Al Alavrez, author of The Biggest Game in Town, is also in the race) He is however also well known as a journalist, broadcaster and writer, particularly as a biographer of the British Royal family and of artists including Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky, Lorenzo da Ponte, Leigh Hunt and Laurence Olivier.

Educated at Oxford, bestselling biographer Anthony Holden was an award-winning journalist before becoming a prolific writer and broadcaster. He has won praise for his translations of Greek poetry and opera libretti as well as his definitive biographies of a wide range of figures, both living and historical. Anthony Holden has presented numerous TV documentaries and continues to write regularly for a wide range of newspapers and periodicals on both sides of the Atlantic. Currently he is Classical Music critic of the Observer .

Holden, of course, is ultimately known to millions of poker players as the person who produced a serious work (Big Deal) that didn't treat them as monosyllabic dartmoor prison escapees. In the early 1980s, Holden left his role as Assistant Editor of The Times after loudly insulting his then boss, Rupert Murdoch, in front of The Queen, and a room full of VIPs. Taking up a career in writing, Holden slowly developed his hobby - the Tuesday Night Poker Game - into something that, by the end of the decade, would become a consuming passion.If he was going to be so ensconced in the world of raises, flops, flushes and calls, why not do it properly? Why not jack in the day job as a biographer, put $20000 aside, and use it to play poker professionally?

So he did and in doing so he stacked his chips opposite those of the greatest players in history at that time - Amarillo Slim, Johnny Moss, The Oriental Express and Eric Drache. Ultimately this provides the reader of Big Deal with an all-you-can-eat buffet of the world revolving around poker in 1989. And it doesn't lose anything through the passage of time.

Moving on to the 21st century and poker has taken an enormous leap in world popularity thanks to the internet first and TV second. And so it made sense for Holden to revisit the poker to see how things had changed. Another year spent playing poker from the World Series of Poker 2005 to the WSOP 2006 became the material for his next major poker work, Bigger Deal: A Year on the New Poker Circuit (3 May 2007). The Gerald Scarfe cartoon cover shows the 1994 World Championship final three, Russ Hamilton (the big one and winner) , Hugh Vincent (2nd) and John Spadavecchia.

When Holden played in the 1988 World Series of Poker there were 167 entrants competing for a prize of $270,000. At the 2006 WSOP, where this book climaxes, there were 8773 players and a first prize of some $12 million - the richest in any sport.
Anthony Holden now writes a poker blog at his own site Bigger Deal

Quotation from Big Deal
"Poker may be only a game, but it is not a matter of life and death. It's a lot more serious than that."

Bigger Deal Review
If you are looking for one of the many technical manuals to improve your poker, this is not the book for you. However, if you are a keen poker player, but want something entertaining to read between games, this might be the one. You really need to have read 'Big Deal' written nearly 17 years before, when Holden first tried his hand as a poker professional. But even without that, this will still be an absorbing and amusing read.

In this enjoyable sequel, he revisits the poker world, playing in card rooms and tournaments in Europe and America, in home games in his native London and online during 2005 and 2006. The result is a rich account of how the game and its players have changed over the 17 years since he tried (and failed) to become a professional poker player. He profiles a range of people, from poker's living legend Doyle Brunson to the new breed of young professionals, schooled on the Internet and ruthlessly aggressive, and explores the reasons for poker's recent, unprecedented boom.

Holden is particularly good in charting the meteoric rise of online poker (and its ambiguous legal status in the United States). He's also adept at articulating his fascination with the game: "The thrilling sense of triumph when you sense something that turns out to be right; the disproportionate despair when you're wrong or the poker gods are against you."
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