“You have to wait for the right cards at the right moment. For someone who isn’t naturally patient, that is a great discipline.” – Al Alvarez.
A poet, writer, and critic, Al Alvarez is well-known entity in poker circuit, who recently passed away of pneumonia at the age of 90. Alvarez will always be remembered for his book ‘The Biggest Game in Town’. Born between the two world wars in 1929, he enjoyed a multifaceted career and rose to public prominence in 1956.
To him writing was a solitary and joyless occupation and this book has set an example of a true literary work in poker circuit, documenting the 1981 World Series of Poker, recognizing some of the greatest poker players of this era, including Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Chip Reese and Stu Ungar who were among the high-stakes pros. His work has been a wave in the world comprising poker literature.
While the world was admiring the presence of D.H Lawrence, Alvarez grew fonder of poker as a sport, playing for long decades. Eventually, this appreciation of mind game ended up with him writing two dozen books in his lifetime, among them being ‘Poker: Bets, Bluffs and Bad Beats’ (2001), a collection of stories from poker world that was also well received.
Besides, other authors in poker circuit also offered added about Alvarez in their ‘Positively Fifth Street’ and ‘Cowboys Full’, “Al Alvarez was a bona fide renaissance man: writer, mountain climber, poker player, swimmer. He was a significant poet, critic, and anthologist who introduced the world to Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, John Berryman, and others. He was also the last person, besides her two children, to see Plath alive, and The Savage God, the book he wrote about her and other suicides, including his own close calls and temptations, changed the way we think about depression and those who take their own life.”
Alvarez played poker for more than 50 years and expressed, “Quite simply, poker taught me qualities I lacked – patience and cool-headedness – that steadied me when I most needed them.
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