“The Tao of Poker” Review

The Tao of Poker: 285 Rules to Transform Your Game and Your Life, Larry Phillips’s “follow up and companion book to Zen and the Art of Poker” is similar in many ways, with non-poker quotes and lists of general poker advice. But it also differs in many ways, as it’s less mystical and more directly applicable to poker, while it pretty much ignores its title. In fact, the sequel has more quotes about Zen than it does about Taoism, which is simply the hook to get you to buy the book. Phillips explains the Tao (‘The Way’) connection as an ‘attempt to get closer to the actual truth of the game — the underlying game, when it is perceived correctly’.

The title is surprisingly misleading in a second way: the book actually gives 287 rules, two more than promised. He could even have gotten into the mid-300s if he wanted to count a little differently as he gives nine poker ‘Excuses’, nine ‘telling looks’, 25 ‘common traps’, two ‘things that separate the good player from the bad player’, six ‘solutions to being off-rhythm’ and three ‘good poker rules’ (that somehow don’t count as rules). Furthermore, his last three chapters, including sections on ‘All-Star Idea’, and ‘Online Poker’ contain a fair amount of advice but just three numbered rules.

Phillips’s sequel lacks the charm of the original but is more useful, if just as repetitively repetitive. The Tao of Poker is worth a quick skim, but it can be a painful read unless you enjoy being told the same things over and over again.”

Title The Tao of Poker: 285 Rules to Transform Your Game and Your Life
Author Larry Phillips
Year 2003
Skill Level any
Pros Solid, high level advice that’s applicable to any poker variety (and even to life in general).
Cons Beyond repetitive. The book could easily have been a quarter of its 260-page length.
Rating 2.0
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