“Deal Me In” Review

[LL] “In 2009, Stephen John and Marvin Karlins collaborated on a set of interviews with twenty professional poker players and shared their results as Deal Me In: Twenty of The World’s Top Poker Pros Share How They Turned Pro“, Leroy the Lion began.

[RR] “Did those players pass the test of time? Are they still famous a decade later?” Roderick the Rock wondered.

[LL] “For the most part, I’d say yes, but you can judge for yourself. Here’s an alphabetical list:

  • Chad Brown
  • Doyle Brunson
  • Johnny Chan
  • Allen Cunningham
  • Annie Duke
  • Tom Dwan
  • Peter Eastgate
  • Chris Ferguson
  • Layne Flack
  • Chau Giang
  • Jennifer Harman
  • Phil Hellmuth
  • Phil Ivey
  • Howard Lederer
  • Carlos Mortensen
  • Daniel Negreanu
  • Scotty Nguyen
  • Annette Obrestad
  • Erik Seidel
  • Dave Ulliott

Dwan, Eastgate, and Obrestad are categorized as ‘Young Guns’, while the rest ore ‘Big Guns’.”

[RR] “All three newcomers have faded,1, but so have some of the established players.”

[LL] “Brown and Ulliott passed away. Brunson and Duke are basically retired. But the rest seem to be going strong.”

[RR] “So over a third of the players are no longer in the spotlight.”

[LL] “A decade is a long time. But I think even the three Young Guns’ stories are worth reading, since they each did something pretty special even if they’ll never make it into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Each player’s section includes a brief introduction, their story in their own words, and a wrap up with a web link and the player’s favorite charities.2

Very little poker strategy and only a few poker hands are given, so you want to read this purely for entertainment purposes. The players come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from dirt-poor immigrants to upper class suburbanites, so they arrived at their careers in poker in very different ways. Some took up poker very early (e.g., Ivey snuck into the Tropicana with a fake ID at age 16), while others like Brown and Seidel had established non-gaming careers before making the jump. Perhaps the uniting theme is a desire to improve their games, as most had determined to make a career out of playing cards long before their skills were sufficient.”

[RR] “I guess that’s part of the beauty of poker. Anybody can play it, and anybody can get good at the game.”

[LL] “And anybody can enjoy reading about some of the players who made it big in the poker world.”

Title Deal Me In: Twenty of The World’s Top Poker Pros Share How They Turned Pro
Author Stephen John and Marvin Karlins
Year 2009
Skill Level any
Pros Inspirational stories from a good selection of great poker players.
Cons Very little actual poker content.
Rating 3.0


  1. Eastgate retired from poker in July 2010 and has only played occasionally since then. Obrestad’s last six-figure cash was in 2011. Dwan, who was more famous for his cash game play, has actually done the best in tournaments of the three. Despite playing a light schedule, he won prizes of over a quarter of a million dollars in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2017, and 2018, although the last three were in high roller events, so this doesn’t mean he’s been profitable.
  2. Only Chau Giang does not have a charity listed for reasons unknown. He has played in numerous charity poker tournaments, including Jennifer Harman’s and Ante Up for Africa.

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