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The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time
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The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  1,160 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
A tale of outsize egos, appetites, and ambitions, here is the completely true, heart-stopping story of one man, 20 million dollars, and the most expensive game of poker ever played-with never-before-revealed details of what really happens at the game's highest levels. In 2001, a stranger from Texas descended on the high-stakes poker room at the world famous Bellagio Hotel ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 2nd 2005 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30)
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3.5 stars. For anyone who is a fan of poker and enjoys playing or watching it, this is an entertaining read. As the description of the book indicates, it is the story of how a billionaire "banker" named Andy Beal took on a group of the best high stakes poker players in the world (who combined their bankrolls into a group called the "The Corporation") for the highest stakes ever played. Being a big poker fan, I thought it was a very interesting read.
'The next best thing to gambling and winning is gambling and losing. The main thing is to gamble.'
Oct 01, 2016 Whitney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, poker
The quote on the front of this book says, "A thrilling portal into a culture the rest of us can scarcely imagine." That is one of the most accurate descriptions of a book I have ever read. Life as a gambler is a such a weird and lonely existence. The focus of this book is the big games vs. Andy Beal between 2001-2004. But in telling that story, we get a glimpse into the rest of the lives of these poker players and the Vegas poker scene pre-boom in general.
Quincas Karamazov
For any poker enthusiast.

If you're the kind of person who watched all episodes of high-stakes poker, loves reading news about whether or not X player is broke, or reads about the legendary nosebleeds game that we only hear rumors about and are not even sure if they're real, then I'd be willing to lay 10:1 odds that you'll at the very least enjoy this book.

However, for the Average reader the poker content might come off as repetitive and unengaging, but the book still offers a great and detailed
Martin Moleski
Jan 12, 2014 Martin Moleski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read with which to end my sabbatical.

The author handles introduction of a huge cast of characters very well. He explains the nature of the game of high stakes limit Hold 'em without getting too technical, and he seems to be scrupulously fair to all involved "inside the richest poker game of all time" (up to 2005, of course).

If I had time and money, I'd be a gambling addict. I've played hundreds of games on a poker simulator. It's interesting to see what the life of a professional gambler
Kevin Gómez
Feb 18, 2015 Kevin Gómez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Super interesting book from the start to the end, I read it all the way through in less than 24 hours. The book focuses on a group of Poker pros who teamed up to play a series of super high stakes poker against a billionaire banker. The book tells the amazing battles between the high stakes pros and the amateur banker, but it also focuses on the background of every one of the persons involved, which are by no means less interesting than the main story itself. The book is an amazing read that wil ...more
Jul 26, 2014 Benjamin rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It's a tale about some very interesting people, and it's told well.

Knowing nothing about poker, I was surprised by the characterization that the professionals never bothered to truly learn the probabilities associated with certain hands. I was also surprised that Beal was apparently unique in trying to add, via his random number generation, some elements of game theory.

my favorite quote: "Elite poker players are drawn from a pool of gamblers, not problem solvers or people re
May 21, 2015 Darryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting story about an investment banker who got out of the market before it tanked and decided to see how he could do at poker against the best professionals.
He put lots of time into his game to the point that he held his own at the highest stakes game ever played. The stakes were so high that the professionals he was playing were nervous about the money. Any successful professional player is able to separate their decisions from the money, so to get that to happen is crazy.
At the time at l
I'd actually give this book 3.5 stars if I could as it's definitely a fun, enjoyable and quick read, but only if you're a poker fan. I think a background in the game and some of the players is necessary to really enjoy this book.

Bill Clarkin
Apr 22, 2015 Bill Clarkin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good. Liked the insight into how the poker players got to this lifestyle. New respect for Greenstein and his charitable efforts. Would have liked a bit more into the specific hands and the thought process around these. Probably couldn't get access.
Jul 12, 2015 Gregg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick little book to read. More about the psychology of being elite than the nitty gritty of poker, although the background stories about ultra-high-stakes poker are interesting. Thanks to my father in law for the gift.
Jun 14, 2014 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick read (a few hours), telling of a billionaire's quest to beat the top Vegas pros. In-depth. Read like a poker TV show. Quite entertaining, but no long term "redeeming" value, just pure entertainment.
Jul 24, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in 2005 the book gives you a real insight into the world of high-stakes professional poker. It is quite a compelling read. With some truly unique characters and personalitie.
Aug 10, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read. The only downside with this book is that it doesn't cover the one story I was most interested in when Andy last returned to Vegas after this book was published..
Mark Defusco
Apr 08, 2015 Mark Defusco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed reading about the big game and the interactions of the poker players that I was watching on TV when this game was going down.
Jul 13, 2015 RiskingTime rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fabulous book about Andy Beal and the poker games he played in Las Vegas.
Joshua Walcher
Mar 27, 2015 Joshua Walcher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Xandri Fiori
Could have really gone into the psychology, motives, tactics, of the various players etc. Had the potential to really bring out the ambitious, fearless, as well as enchanting and elusive aspects of the high stakes poker world as an intriguing narrative. Rather, it was more or less a play by play. There were some insights but they were few and far between. Most of it wasn't anything you couldn't glean watching recorded games for most of the players, or reading the best handbooks on strategy. Ther ...more
Dec 29, 2016 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cool peek behind the curtain. These folks are all total messes.
Tim O'Hearn
This is a good book. The explanation of the history of the game and breakdown of rules and situations added to the flow and accessibility of the book and thus my enjoyment of it. Character development, especially considering how many players appeared in just several-hundred pages, was exceptional.

The first flaw is that the book suffers from bouts of redundancy. Some interesting anecdotes are repeated without much more context except the passage of time. This happened on about five occasions. Th
Dec 28, 2007 Charlie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Casual and serious poker players, and their significant others.
Shelves: poker, nonfiction
Before there was professional poker on network television, before the poker pros were nearly household names, and before the World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker exploded into American pop culture, there were cash games. Now in the late ‘90s the names were the same ones you know now and the games were similar, but poker in the larger sense was different. The days of chasing scary illegal games wasn’t that long ago, and poker was struggling to survive, even in Las Vegas casinos. Many pros t ...more
Jan 09, 2008 Tung rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Poker exploded into the national consciousness a few years ago, and as its popularity has grown, stories that in prior years might have gone unpublished have made themselves known. This book traces one such true story – the story of the richest poker game ever played. Andy Beal is a self-made billionaire owner of a private bank who became transfixed on the idea that he could beat poker pros at their own game. Considering that everything he’d ever put his mind to had been accomplished, this seeme ...more
Sep 02, 2010 Elizabeth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 52-in-2010
The Professor, The Banker, and the Suicide King (pp. 288)

Michael Craig chronicles the history of the highest stakes poker game ever played. Millionaire businessman and banker, Andy Beal sinks his teeth into his new obsession, poker. Like many men in his stratosphere, he’s looking for a challenge and lofty goal to measure his ability and learning. The Bellagio, Las Vegas is home to one of the largest regular cash games in poker with some of the most famous poker players ever. Doyle Brunson, Chip
Dec 01, 2009 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an account of the biggest poker game ever played. Basically this really really rich Texas banker billionaire guy wanted to see if he could beat the best pro poker players in the world by making the stakes so high that it would throw even them off. By the end of the book they were playing $100,000/$200,000 no-limit hold ‘em and it was all heads-up. At that point people would say things like “he basically broke even; he only lost $500,000” because at those stakes $500K is nothing. I knew t ...more
May 13, 2008 Todd rated it liked it
Decent story, pretty interesting how this billionaire just got bored and decided to become one of the best poker players in the world just by challenging the established best players. I didn't think I would, but I ended up rooting for the banker b/c of some of the tactics and manipulation that the pros used once they realized he could actually play at their level. Although some of the pros wanted to, most of them wouldn't just sit down and play at his stakes because they were really scared of lo ...more
Rob Eelkema
Jul 21, 2010 Rob Eelkema rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like to gamble, play poker or get into the nitty gritty of the "players" in high stakes poker, read this book. Andy Beal is a billionair and he wants to play against the best poker players in the world.....he dedicates himself to being the best in the world. He wins big but other factors come into play no matter how good you are at Poker........the need to rest and step away from the table is a key ingredient to success. Big stakes and great insight to reading the "insides' of professiona ...more
Oct 19, 2008 Leonard rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Poker Players
Recommended to Leonard by: Sarah
An amazing story and inside look into the world of high stakes poker. I think even non-poker players would enjoy this book. That said, I didn't particularly care for the author's writing style. There seemed to be an abundance of run on sentences and the flow of the book seemed disjoint and the story fragmented. Whether or not this was intentional, I don't know, but it made the book hard to read at times. That said, it was still overall a very quick and very enjoyable read. Those who follow poker ...more
Sep 22, 2013 Doug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Entertaining read on an episode in the lives of some famous poker players and one not so famous poker player. However, not much poker action in the book. I think there are probably two hands described in the whole thing. If you are interested in a play by play of real poker action, Gus Hansen's "Every Hand Revealed" is much better, and for a better poker non-fiction book I'd suggest "positively fifth street" by James McManus, which is a plain terrific book. Still, this satisfied my po ...more
Stephen Mcallister
An intriguing look into the world of high-stakes poker. Andy Beal, a self-made billionaire shows up in Vegas looking to test his poker skills against the world's best poker players. He hopes to push some of these players over the edge by putting them through very long sessions playing for stakes that make them uncomfortable. The pros pool their money together through their "Corporation" and take turns sitting down with Beal, taking some VERY big hits to their bankroll over the days and weeks tha ...more
CV Rick
Sep 08, 2009 CV Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poker, pop-culture
What a wild ride . . .

Andy Beal, a billionaire Texas banker decided that Poker had all the elements of one-on-one competition: negotiation, decision making, bluffing, and reading people. Being successful at business he was adept at all those skills. Because of that he challenged the world's best poker players to the world's highest stakes heads up matches.

This is the story of those professional gamblers coming together to make a team of players, backers, investors and how Andy Beal devised a w
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“Part of the lore of the Mirage poker room was the four-day $600-$1,200 game Ted played with Hamid Dastmalchi, the 1992 World Champion and a man similarly possessed of a cast-iron constitution. At the end of it, Dastmalchi was taken out of the Mirage in an ambulance. Forrest joked that it was all the bad beats he showed Hamid, but it may have had more to do with the estimated fifty packs of cigarettes Dastmalchi smoked during the game.” 0 likes
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