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Book Review: Bad Beats and Lucky Draws: Poker Strategies, Winning Hands, and Stories from the Professional Poker Tour

Book Review: Bad Beats and Lucky Draws: Poker Strategies, Winning Hands, and Stories from the Professional Poker Tour
by Chad Holloway of Predictem.com

In 2004, Phil Hellmuth Jr. released Bad Beats and Lucky Draws: Poker Strategies, Winning Hands, and Stories from the Professional Poker Tour. The book is not so much a strategy book, though Hellmuth does provide many hand analyses, as it is a collection of poker stories and hand histories from Hellmuth and other poker professionals such as Jennifer Harman, Phil Ivey, and Annie Duke. The book, broken into eight chapters, provides a glimpse into Hellmuth’s poker-root days in Wisconsin all the way to winning his ninth bracelet at the 2003 W.S.O.P.

In a post-poker boom world overrun with poker strategy books, it is a breath of fresh air to find a book that not only sidesteps strategy but dedicates itself to a time before poker was thrown into the spotlight. Hellmuth does an excellent job of providing the reader with exciting hand accounts and stories from the W.S.O.P., the World Poker Tour, and the European Tour throughout the book. On top of this, he also managed to coerce his poker colleagues (I.e. Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Howard Lederer, Daniel Negreanu, Ted Forrest, Layne Flack, Men Nguyen, and John Bonetti) to contribute their most memorable hands. These first-hand accounts engage the reader and fuel the book, especially since they are written back-to-back; in fact, the way they are presented make it harder for the reader to put the book down since they want to find out if the next story will top the previous one.

At 232 pages, Bad Beats and Lucky Draws is certainly worth the $14.95 price tag. The book is essentially an encyclopedia where one can find stories and hands that they most likely would not find otherwise. In fact, Bad Beats and Lucky Draws is such a magnificent collection it has even been cited in other publications, including in One of a Kind where author Nolan Dalla recounts a hand told by Hellmuth regarding Stuey “The Kid” Ungar and Mansour Matloubi. Like Hellmuth himself, who is considered a poker authority, Bad Beats and Lucky Draws is an authority on poker folklore. Hellmuth says of his book, “I hope you find these stories well told, compelling, and illuminating. Better yet, a blast to read!

I’ve enjoyed gathering these accounts together, and I’ve tried my best to make sure that you’ll love them . . . whether you’re trying to second-guess the players or are out there playing some hands yourself.” While Hellmuth did an excellent job selecting intriguing hands, he did an even better job of ensuring his readers will remain engaged. Not only is it hard to put the book down, it is even harder to stop yourself from putting yourself in the hands described and imagining what you would do.

In conclusion, Bad Beats and Lucky Draws is an interesting and engaging read for anyone seeking out a poker book not dedicated to poker strategy; instead, the reader can expect to find detailed accounts of unique poker hands, stories on some of poker’s greatest professionals, and a glimpse into Phil Hellmuth’s rise to poker stardom.

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