Poker in Print: Ace on the River (2005)

Poker in Print

Some poker books focus on a certain aspect of the game, or teach you about a certain strategy, such as Dara O’Kearney and Barry Carter’s book on playing poker satellites.

Poker in Print

Others, such as Barry Greenstein’s Ace on the River, bring to life the career of the poker player in question. There’s no doubt that Ace on the River is a bona fide classic poker book, but what makes it so? Let’s take a look at one of the world’s most popular poker books.

The first thing to say about Ace on the River is that if you’re an aspirational player it won’t convince you to take up the game purely through strategic means. It’s a highly entertaining book and brings to life the legend of the ‘Robin Hood of Poker’ in some style. Well written and funny in places, you’ll have no problem flying through it the first time you pick it up. 

Greenstein is so-called largely due to his charity donations, which total anything over $3 million according to urban myths in the poker community and he’s not only won big at poker tournaments but has been a cash game king for decades too.

Whilst Ace on the River aims to improve your poker game, it does more by nuggets of advice rather than in lengthier strategic plays. It has a very conversational style to it and at times that makes it easier to read but harder to learn from in that it’s very easy to simply keep reading and skip past potentially lucrative information you’ve left behind in the pursuit of the next page.

That said, from beginners to established pros, there’s something for everyone inside the pages of the book, with Greenstein on great form. Blessed with a laconic wit, he breaks down some of the strategies in the game at his level with aplomb.

While Ace on the River covers matters from far more of an elite perspective to other poker books, that doesn’t make it less accessible and many of the most salient points apply not just to players of all levels, but life as well as the game of poker. Barry Greenstein’s philosophy on a poker life and life itself will both apply to many others who take to the felt. 

From managing your money in the game to the deeper psychological aspects of the game, you can glean so much from the book that it feels more like a strategy book to discuss, but reading it again recently after many years, the conversational style does shine through and it’s a really easy read. Sure, there’s a ‘you make the call’ play-by-play part to the book, but it never feels like hard work to take in the information, which is the gift of a great teacher.

Perfect to flick through at the felt during the early levels of a live tournament but equally absorbing as a tome to tackle for an hour before sleep, Barry Greenstein’s Ace on the River is a classic poker book and 15 years after publication, very much stands up to that status.

You can buy the e-book version of Barry Greenstein’s Ace on the River right here, and we’d thoroughly recommend adding it to your poker collection.