Top 5 literary descriptions of poker

Yesterday I wrote about Pocket Kings by Ted Heller, which gives one of the most convincing literary descriptions of poker that I’ve ever read. (Much more so than all those books and articles where the author goes on expense account to compete at the World Series of Poker. I hope to never see that again.)

OK, here’s my list of the best literary descriptions of poker, starting at the top:

1. James Jones, From Here to Eternity. The best ever. An entirely convincing poker scene near the beginning drives the whole plot of this classic novel.

2. David Spanier, Total Poker. Lots of wonderful stories as well as some poker insight. He wrote some other books about poker that were not so interesting or readable.

3. Frank Wallace, Poker: A guaranteed income for life by using the advanced concepts of poker. I tracked this one down and read it after reading about it in Total Poker. Wallace’s book is pretty much devoid of any intentional literary merit, but I agree with Spanier that on its own terms it’s a kind of outsider-art masterpiece.

4. Ted Heller, Pocket Kings. See my review from yesterday.

That’s it. I can’t think of anything else I’ve read about poker that would be worth mentioning here. Lots of poker manuals which in some cases are well written but I would not say they are particularly interesting to read except for the poker content, and lots of books about poker by serious writers with poker scenes that do not seem at all insightful in any general way. So the above four, that’s all I have to offer.

Am I missing anything that’s worth including in the above list?