“The Best Hand I Ever Played” Review

[LL] “When Ron Rose wrote Poker Aces: The Stars of Tournament Poker,” Leroy the Lion began, “he promised to publish a sequel. It never happened, possibly in part because just one year later, ESPN commissioned Steve Rosenbloom to write a similar book for them. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but Rosenbloom’s book, The Best Hand I Ever Played, actually exceeds its inspiration with quality over quantity.1

Each of the 52 sections runs two to three pages, with a brief biography, the pro’s favorite poker hand he or she played, and a wrapup2.

The best way to tell how good this book is is simply to list the 52 players interviewed for it: Josh Arieh, Joe Awada, Lyle Berman, Doyle Brunson, John Cernuto “Miami John”, Johnny Chan, T.J. Cloutier, Hoyt Corkins, Kassem “Freddy” Deeb, Martin de Knijff, Annie Duke, Antonio Esfandiari, Scott Fischman, Layne Flack, Alan Goehring, Phil Gordon, Gavin Griffin, Hassan Habib, Gus Hansen, Jennifer Harman, Dan Harrington, Bobby Hoff, Chip Jett, Mel Judah, Thomas Keller, Phil Laak, Howard Lederer, Kathy Liebert, Erick Lindgren, Marcel Luske, Matt Matros, Tom McEvoy, Chris Moneymaker, Daniel Negreanu, Evelyn Ng, Men Nguyen, Scotty Nguyen, Paul Phillips, Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Greg Raymer, David “Chip” Reese, Ron Rose, Erik Seidel, Mike Sexton, Charlie Shoten, Barry Shulman, Gabriel Thaler, Dewey Tomko, David “Devilfish” Ulliott, Amir Vahedi, David Williams, and Robert Williamson III.

This group, which now includes fourteen Poker Hall of Famers, has won ten WSOP Main Event championships and finished second eight times.”

[RR] “Still no Johnny Moss”, Roderick the Rock complained.

[LL] “Well, he couldn’t be interviewed for the book since he’d been dead a decade already.

My only real complaint about the book is the choice of the inaccurate ‘Best’ in the title. The hands may be the pros’ favorites or most memorable but many required little or no skill and so could hardly be described as ‘Best’. But it’s an excellent read that is as entertaining today as it was when it was published.

Title The Best Hand I Ever Played
Author Steve Rosenbloom
Year 2005
Skill Level any
Pros Wide variety of entertaining and educational stories from 52 poker pros. Excellent use of sidebar to define glossary terms.
Cons Could have used a little better editing.
Rating 4.0

Footnotes:

  1. Rose’s book features 89 players, 37 more than the 52 here. Coincidentally, 37 players appear in both books, meaning 52 are in Poker Aces that aren’t in Best Hand. { April 4, 2018 Update: alas, my count was off. Poker Aces has 51 players who aren’t in Best Hand, while Best Hand has 14 that aren’t in Poker Aces }.
  2. The wrapup section is called “The Rake”, which in poker is the fee that the house collects from the players, but here refers to the lesson you should have learned from the story.
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