Gratt’s beginner’s guide to high-stakes poker is chock-full of basic know-how.

Those seeking to emulate the success of poker champions such as Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer are going to need some help. They’re also going to need some time. Fortunately, Gratt has written a guidebook that can cut years off a beginner’s quest—provided his quest is to become the safest player at the table. Gratt claims his guidebook is a “‘read-only-once’ work”; that by following the book’s content to the letter, “a knowledgeable card player can become a successful card-playing professional.” Naturally, caveats such as needing to have “the right stuff” and paying bills from nonpoker sources can raise some doubts. But Gratt’s request that readers send him 2% of their winnings after their initial six months of playing under his rules at least proves the author possesses a certain confidence—or chutzpah. Gratt’s book, which covers everything from card-playing concepts to reading opponents’ tells to 26 practice hands to a glossary of poker terms, is geared solely for no-limit Texas Hold’em cash games played against real opponents, so those seeking an online tip sheet should look elsewhere (though Gratt weighs in on the phenomenon of online poker). After the budding professional antes up the recommended $10,000 to get in the game, Gratt suggests they play only the best hands, and only one every four or five hours at that. Hardly revolutionary strategies, and hardly encouraging words to those looking for real risk, let alone concurrent risk-to-reward ratio. The same goes for Gratt’s fundamentals of patience and bankroll management; they’re so basic that they could cause a former company drone to long for the exciting days of the cubicle. Gratt’s call to play it safe is also a call to play it responsibly; something a dreamy beginner would do well to consider before plunging into what’s undoubtedly a cutthroat business. Yes, the book’s a bit repetitive (Gratt says that’s intentional), and, yes, it removes the bluff (which some insist makes poker what it is), but for those willing to learn the ropes before they jump, this isn’t a bad place to begin. Folks new to the game will find Gratt’s guidebook an accessible, reasonable entry point.


Pub Date: July 23, 2011

ISBN: 978-1461048183

Page Count: 192

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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