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Big Deal: A Year as a Professional Poker Player

7.4 Total Score

Have you ever thought ‘What if I play poker full time’? If yes, then you are like Antony ‘London’ Holden and most of poker players…

  • Fascinating stories, including WSOP experience
  • Beautiful writing style
  • Historical world of poker
  • A good description of mental poker
  • Interesting non-fictional memoir
  • No poker strategies
  • Contains political views
  • A bit dated now
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Big Deal - Book Review


Big Deal: one year in the life of a professional poker player is a tremendous work that introduces the readers to the harsh world of professional poker players. This book is all about Antony Holden’s life and how a respected British journalist and an author of several non-gambling books decides to spend an entire year on the professional poker tournament circuit. The psychology, history, and literature of the book make it a classic poker read.

Born in 1947 in Lancashire, England, Antony Holden had a fantastic career as a writer and journalist. Holden’s experience of poker during World Series of 1988 is the primary inspiration behind this book. In 2007 Anthony also published a sequel to this book describing the growth and popularity of the game.


Non-fiction covering professional poker in the early 1990s is a well-written memoir by Anthony Holden. It is a story of author’s days and nights in London, Las Vegas, Malta, and Morocco, sharpening his poker game, thus improving his repartee and discovering new things about himself.
Reading about Holden’s travel and poker game is thoroughly entertaining as he takes us into the psychology of poker, it’s history. Description of Holden’s poker trips will keep you connected with the book. Big Deal book is equally appealing for the non-poker players due to its exciting story. Moreover, poker players will always appreciate author’s WSOP experience and the knowledge about the game.

This book can be the best deal for those curious about the famous poker figures and tournament world.
The poker world was much smaller back then, and Holden’s great work will take you back in time. Some of his meetings with Johnny Chan, Jack Binion, and Amarillo Slim are fun to read.
As well as the way he plays Blackjack to help him to recover his losses. It’s almost as if Blackjack is an ATM.
Holden’s writing style will please all the book lovers out there.


Reading this classic illustrates how far the game of poker has evolved. This vivid and charming work will make you feel like you are in Malta as rain causes the roof to crumble. Holden’s dry English prose might seem a little boring to readers, but at the same time, plenty of tales and interesting psychology will fascinate them.

Beag Deal poker book is not a guide for players but a joyful read for all who have let the game of poker flow into their bloodstream. Holden has used the same witty literary style as some other great authors, Al Alvarez and Michael Konik.
Several years old now, this is still a riveting read from such a genuine author. Unlike some other books, this is palatable even to those not deep in the poker culture. On the other hand, it might be challenging to grasp for the younger generation of poker players.

Unfortunately, the author includes some of his political views in the book, which readers with opposite beliefs could find disturbing.


In my view, the next best thing to playing poker is reading an entertaining poker book like this one. It is a fun tale for all the real poker players and those who wish to get into the poker world. The 80s and 90s poker era is undoubtedly far gone now, but I still appreciate its distinctive bygone air as a poker fan.

Holden’s writing style is what personally pleases me the most. ‘Big Deal: One year as a professional poker player’ would appeal to regular poker players and those who don’t play much, thanks to the exciting and interesting stories. If you like the poker world and all its entertainment, you will surely enjoy that book!

About The Author

Anthony Holden was born on 22 May 1947 in Southport, England. He is an award-winning writer who has written more than thirty books. He is a skilled poker player and spent a year as a pro player while researching the Big Deal book. His playing style seems very defensive.

In 2000 he won Late Night Poker on Channel 4, beating several well-known poker players. Between 2006-2008 Holden was a Pokerstars sponsored player. He was also part of the English team during the World Cup of Poker.

Antony Holden published his next poker book in 2007 called Bigger Deal: A Year Inside the Poker Boom, which showed his second attempt as a professional player, between the 2005 and 2006 WSOP events.

Between 2009 and 2013, he was chosen as the first President of the International Federation of Poker.

Big Deal - Book Quotes

‘I had, like everyone, made my rookie mistakes. You bet I had. In the first few years I always started as nervous as a schoolboy, shaking enough to show everyone the kind of hand I held.’


‘Whether he likes it or not, a man’s character is stripped bare at the poker table; if the other players read him better than he does, he has only himself to blame. Unless he is both able and prepared to see himself as others do, flaws and all, he will be a loser in cards, as in life.’

Table Of Content

  • Preface
  • Living Right
  • The Big One
  • Shut Up and Deal
  • Read ’Em and Weep
  • On Tilt
  • The Hall of Fame
  • Enter the Shrink
  • Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl
  • An Ear Full of Cider
  • Run Out of Town
  • Cruising for a Bruising
  • The End of the Road
  • APPENDIX 1 The Ranking of Hands
  • APPENDIX 2 Select Bibliography
  • APPENDIX 3 Glossary of Poker Terms
  • Acknowledgments

Book Details

  • Free with Kindle Unlimited: No
  • Audiobook: No
  • Free with Audible: N/A
  • Number of Pages: 384
  • Game: Entertaining, MTT, WSOP
  • Live/Online: Live
  • Required Skill Level: Beginner
  • Format Available: E-book, Paperback
  • Publication date: Sep 1990
  • Reprinted: Yes
  • Special Features: N/A
  • Languages: English, German
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster

What Do The Pros And Famous Say

A fascinating, funny, firsthand book about the great characters of the greatest of card games—not least my friend London Tony himself, a man who knows America better than most Americans.
Cleveland Amory
The best book about poker I’ve ever read.
Walter Matthau
Precise, provocative and enlightening. A ‘must’ for every poker player’s library.
Telly Savalas
Tony is toney … When the pot gets high, the hour late, and you need to see what he has in the hole, then the lounge lizard melds into a loan shark …
Martin Amis

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