“Amarillo Slim’s Play Poker to Win” Review

[LL] “Originally published in 1973 as simply Play Poker to Win,” Leroy the Lion explained, “Amarillo Slim Preston’s 2005 update prepends his name to the title, rearranges the chapters a bit, and adds 33 pages of new material, including sections on Tells, Online Poker, and Tournaments. Bill G. Cox, who was credited as a co-author for the original book, is no longer attributed.”

[RR] “Probably dead”, Roderick the Rock guessed.

[LL] “Wouldn’t surprise me after 32 years. It’s now been 45 years since this book was originally published, so it’s interesting to see how it’s aged.”

[RR] “And how is that?”

[LL] “Well, the original version was derided as a ‘make-a-quick-buck’ book, capitalizing on his world championship. And in fact, the book used to open with the story of his WSOP Main Event win (that chapter’s been moved near the end in the updated version). But I still think that’s a pretty harsh criticism, especially given the paucity of poker books back then. I now rate this book in the middle of all the poker books I’ve read, although the updates were probably worth half a star.

Preston’s strategy advice is sound, if a bit basic, because he covers more than half a dozen poker varieties in limited space, and the stories he sprinkles throughout are entertaining, although not nearly as plentiful as his other book, Amarillo Slim in a World of Fat People.

Preston covers a lot of ground in just over 200 pages, and he’s a better storyteller than he is a teacher. Well, I suppose many of his stories are meant to educate, but they’re not a particularly efficient vehicle.

Given that the book was originally written almost three and a half decades ago, it’s a good read with surprising emphasis on No-Limit games. You’re better off with Amarillo Slim in a World of Fat People if you just want the stories, and you’re better off with many other strategy books if you want to learn to play poker, but if you want an entertaining introduction to poker, Amarillos Slim’s Play Poker to Win is still a good choice.”

Title Amarillos Slim’s Play Poker to Win
Author Amarillo Slim Preston
Year 2005 (originally published 1973)
Skill Level any (stories) / Beginner (strategy)
Pros Good mix of stories and strategy plus a detailed account of the 1972 WSOP Main Event.
Cons No depth. Still has some errors1 despite the update.
Rating 3.0 (stories) / 2.0 (strategy)


  1. Errata:
    • Page 48: Preston twice says he felted four players on the same hand, but the story clearly shows that it was only three.
    • Page 62: Preston claims that on the flop in Hold ‘Em only a royal flush cannot be beat by the river, but it’s also true of any non-wheel straight flush where you have the top card or a Ten or higher.
    • Page 79: the Omaha high hand should be the Deuce-Four, not the Four-Six, for the straight.
    • Misspellings include Jack “Strauss” (instead of “Straus”) and “their’s” (instead of “theirs”).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Brought to you by THETA Poker Pro for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV.