Books on GIF #74 — 'Every Hand Revealed' by Gus Hansen


Welcome to the latest edition of Books on GIF, the animated alternative to boring book reviews. This Sunday's book is 'Every Hand Revealed' by Gus Hansen.

I picked up this how-to-play-poker book, along with 'The Theory of Poker,' a few years ago when I had a harebrained plan to launch a side hustle as a poker player. But I never followed through, and Hansen's book sat in my stack, with that face on the spine just staring out at me like:

Finally, I got tired of Hansen looking at me, so I started reading, thinking at the very least I'd clear it from the pile. But you know what? 'Every Hand Revealed' is fascinating. I learned a lot from it, and not just about poker. Hansen, a poker pro, brought a tape recorder with him when he competed in the Aussie Millions Poker Tournament 2007, and made notes on every hand he played — more than 300 of them! — from start to victory. The book reconstructs those hands for every stage of the tournament, with the chip counts, blinds and the cards that were played. He offers insights into what he was thinking strategically and tactically. His overall strategy was to be extremely aggressive. But tactically, hand by hand, he adjusted based on the pot, his chip stack and his opponents. He won big hands, he lost hands worth more than I (or you, or both of us) make in a year, but he kept his focus and pressed on. He learned from his mistakes, his good play and his strokes of pure luck, and he describes how he tweaked his game to come out ahead and win the tournament. I really felt like I was in his head. Poker, particularly Hold 'em, is a beautiful and a brutal game. When we play, we all want to be like:

But there's always:

Life's a lot like that, too, and Hansen's book reminds us of one of life's most important truths: that the path to success is not straight. It's a zigzag through uncertainty and failure. Like Yoda said in 'The Last Jedi,' failure is a teacher. Being a proper student who learns from mistakes, reads books and listens to smart people makes you better able to counter curveballs and lift your friends and those who need help while also outwitting your foes. As I read 'Every Hand Revealed,' I kept thinking of Sun Tzu's famous line about if you know your opponent and you know yourself you will be victorious in many battles, like:

It's true. So if you live in a rat-race city like New York, you should read this book. If you're a tactical thinker, you should read this book. And if you like poker, you should read this book.

My rating:
'Every Hand Revealed' by Gus Hansen was published in 2008 by Lyle Stuart Books. 370 pages.

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Next Sunday, and the Sundays after that: I'm currently reading 'Little Reunions' by Eileen Chang, but next week you'll get a review of 'Ahsoka' by E. K. Johnson. 'The Good Earth' by Pearl S. Buck, 'The Story of the Lost Child' by Elena Ferrante and 'The Vorrh' by B. Catling are also in my reading queue. Got a bestseller, a classic or a forgotten gem you want me to review? Shoot me an email.

If you missed last week's edition, here's my review of 'Swing Time' by Zadie Smith.

Want to discuss further this or any other book? Hit me up on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Goodreads.

Thanks for reading, and thanks especially to Donna for editing this review!

Until next time,