Allen Cunningham as a pizza delivery boy. Peter Eastgate as a substitute elementary school teacher. Phil Ivey as a telemarketer. Scotty Nguyen as a busboy. Chau Giang as a KFC employee. Phil Hellmuth as a monkey cage cleaner.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Deal Me In, a collection of autobiographical accounts from many of the biggest names in poker, is now available to order online. The book highlights the struggles, obstacles, and tragedies 20 of the greatest poker pros have overcome in their journeys to the top.
Hellmuth, the 11-time bracelet winner, conceptualized the book and convinced his fellow competitors to share some of the most intimate details of their lives for the manuscript.
“Each player gives you a behind-the-scenes look into their early years as scrappy, amateur players and how they broke into the big-time professional ranks,” said Hellmuth. “The pros cover their humble beginnings, the obstacles they overcame, the demons they faces, and ultimately the success they enjoyed.”
In all, 20 players signed on to tell their stories, including seven world champions (Hellmuth, Nguyen, Eastgate, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Chris Ferguson, and Carlos Mortensen) and some of the most recognizable pros in the game (such as Ivey, Cunningham, Tom Dwan, Howard Lederer, Daniel Negreanu, and Layne Flack).
Deal Me In also features three women who have proven that poker can no longer be considered a man’s game (Annie Duke, Jennifer Harman, Annette Obrestad), and a few elite players that the casual poker fan might not know too much about (such as Giang, Erik Seidel, David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott, and Chad Brown).
The first-person narratives are described as “heartbreaking and inspiring” on the book’s cover, and the memoirs certainly deliver on that description. What is particularly striking about this book is how forward the pros are with the innermost details of their lives.
They share their biggest regrets (“My major regret as a poker player was that I spent so much time playing that I neglected my family,” Brunson wrote.), the stories of their disapproving fathers (“I remember my dad telling me, ‘Once you, leave, don’t ever come back,’” Chan said; “My father told me that I had a choice. I could quit playing poker for a living, or he would disown me and strike me from his will,” Harman remembered.), and the darkest moments of their lives (“I didn’t care if I lived or died,” Flack recalled.).
Some aspects of the players’ stories are downright sad, such as Nguyen’s. The Prince of Poker tells about how he grew up in war-torn Vietnam and the gruesome sights he witnessed (“One schoolmate was blown to bits while playing soccer (because of a landmine);” “I saw dead bodies piled in semi trucks like garbage,” he remembered.) and how even when he was able to move to the United States, he fell into what was pretty much a child labor camp, prohibited from attending school.
But Nguyen and the others in this book were able to survive and eventually flourish, thanks to sheer will power and the help of a few people along the way. Deal Me In is inspiring not because of the money or the tournaments the players won, but because of the success they achieved against all odds.
While the book does feature some somber details, there are many light moments that will undoubtedly make poker fans laugh. The pros talk about how they met their spouses (Hellmuth staked out a laundry room for hours to manufacture a conversation with his future wife) and reveal some surprising tendencies (such as Cunningham’s admission that although he’s calm in person, he does find himself shouting at the computer screen while playing online poker).
Any aspiring poker player will also take notice of the advice the players give. The pros talk about the value of bankroll management and many players (such as Dwan and Duke) recall how they moved down in stakes whenever they needed to overcome losses.
The book was composed and written by Marvin Karlins and Stephen John, with an introduction by esteemed tournament director Jack McClelland. It was published by Phil’s House Publishing and can be previewed and pre-ordered online at www.pokerbrat.com. The book will be shipped to customers in mid-June.