Monday, August 16, 2010

I can be really, really stupid

Yesterday while I was playing at Binion's, there was a guy across the table from me reading a book when he wasn't in a hand. The book was Check-Raising the Devil, nominally by Mike Matusow, but with more than a little help from Amy Calistri and Tim Lavalli.

I have not read this book and do not own a copy. But I have, naturally, seen plenty of reviews of it in my poker reading, in blogs and in magazines. The reviews almost always include a picture of the front cover, so I was familiar with what it looks like:




I was, therefore, surprised when I saw the book yesterday, because it was plain black, with the title in simple lettering across the front. No photo of Matusow with a satanic 6-6-6 flop in front of him.

At first I thought maybe this was a translation into another language and, hence, with a different cover for some foreign market, because the guy reading it was clearly not a native speaker of English. But no, when he tipped it down to watch a hand, I determined that it was in English. Could it be some sort of special book-club edition? I've had book club memberships, and sometimes the covers differ from the publisher's usual output of a title. I doubted it, though, because I recognized the logo of Cardoza, the publisher, on the spine.

I finally decided that what I was looking at was most likely some sort of pirated, black-market copy, probably produced dirt-cheap in a sleazy third-world country back alley and sold at a price to undercut the legitimate publisher. Even as I settled on that as the most likely explanation, however, I was aware that it did seem a little weird. After all, the book sells to a niche market of poker enthusiasts--not exactly the kind of runaway bestseller that you'd tend to think would attract rogue printers itching to cash in on the frenzy of some girly fictional romance that Oprah had gushed about. I dismissed it as a minor mystery that I would probably never get the answer to, turned my attention back to the poker game, and had forgotten about it by the time I got home.

Today I was reading Lavalli's most recent blog post, and the question of the strangely undecorated book came to mind again, because there's a little ad for it in the margin of the page. It occurred to me that I could pretty easily contact Lavalli and ask him if he knew of any pirating of his work, since I know that he at least periodically stops by here for a read, and has left at least one comment that I remember.

I started composing a note to him. Then, fortunately, I was saved from the embarrassment that would have resulted. I don't know how it happened, but in some sort of weird deus ex machina moment, the answer to the riddle just dawned on me from out of nowhere. In retrospect, it is so blindingly obvious that I am now seriously questioning my sanity:

The man was simply reading a copy of the book with the dust jacket removed.

8 comments:

Conan776 said...

Loool. Viva el Diablo!

phrankguy1 said...

Hey, whats going on? This post was related to something that happened at a poker table - something you don't write about anymore, correct? Just my assumption since it seems like ages since we got any real poker stories from ya Grump! Gimme, Gimme! I need! I need!

astrobel said...

When you start over-questioning everything around you you might end up dismissing the obvious.

Ben said...

HAHAHA brilliant story. You were obviously concentrating on the tables too much, as you should have been!

Falstaff said...

This happens to those of us who do most of our reading on electronic devices (kindle, ipad, computer) all the time. I'm not saying it's not stupid, just that you're not alone. :)

Anonymous said...

Actually, I just finished reading this book over the weekend. I really enjoyed it. I didn't like him all that much before reading it, but now I'm somewhat of a fan. (I then got to watch him on my Tivo'd Day 1 of WSOP 2010 and thought a lot about what was written and how he acted at the TV table.) I'd recommend giving the book a read.

Michael said...

Nice, we all can be guilty of over thinking something. As Grange pointed out recently in his blog, think horses not zebras.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, the book does contain a story of Hellmuth losing a pot to the almighty 2-4 one year in the WSOP......