Tyler Jones's Reviews > For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker

For Richer, For Poorer by Victoria Coren
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Oct 13, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: poker
Read in September, 2010

I have read a lot of poker books and until now I have been most unsatisfied with the "personal memoir" style of poker book. Poker players are a slippery bunch and getting one to truly open up in a book seems to be asking the impossible. As a result there are dozens of biographies of poker personalities that are utterly forgettable. Victoria Coren's recent book, "For Richer, For Poorer" blows the doors off any other poker biography on the market. Coren is intelligent, eloquent and humorous, and most importantly she holds nothing back, examining herself and her relationship to the game with amazing openness.

Coren has the advantage over her poker writing peers in that she is a highly capable writer. Most poker players can't write, and have to filter their experience through a ghost writer who just doesn't get it - and by "it" I mean the soul of the game of poker: why it is so wonderful and brutal and redemptive and devouring. Coren, more than any other writer I have yet to encounter, expresses the soul of the game. She succeeds to a large degree because her approach is unflinchingly personal.

Following her introduction to the game as a teenager, through her forays into London's famous Vic, to celebrity matches with Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais, the book is a romp. It delivers all the juicy stories one could hope for and even someone unfamiliar with poker would be thoroughly entertained. Yet through it all Coren never lets herself, or her reader, get particularly starstruck. Sure it's neat to rub shoulders with Martin Amis or Toby McGuire but the game itself is the star of the show.

I feel Coren has gotten as close to the heart of the matter as anyone. Even Al Alvarez, whom Coren constantly refers to as a God, maintained a cool detachment in his writing which kept the reader at arms-length. Coren, God bless her, puts all her cards on the table.
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05/23/2016 marked as: read

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