|Title||Bobby Baldwin's Winning Poker Secrets|
|Year||1979 (republished in 2004)|
|Skill Level||Any (stories)/Beginner (strategy)|
|Pros||Very entertaining stories alternating with very concise advice on how to play several poker variants.|
|Cons||Advice is a good starting point for beginners only.|
|Rating||3.5 (stories)/2.0 (strategy)|
|18||Mistakes to Avoid|
|21||The End of the Road||1|
|21||Binion's Horseshoe Club -- Las Vegas (May 19, 1978)|
|25||Bobby's Poker Debut||2|
|25||Mark's House -- Tulsa, Oklahoma|
|34||The End of Mark|
|41||A New Hobby||4|
|42||A Major Bust|
|46||The Cue Center|
|51||Return to Doc's|
|57||A Gold Rush||6|
|64||Hollywood, California -- A Serious Game|
|81||The Aladdin Hotel||9|
|81||Las Vegas (1970)|
|97||From Bad to Worse||12|
|98||The IRS Was the Least of His Concerns|
|99||Meeting the Next Day|
|100||A Talk with Mom and Dad|
|117||A Gamblers Woman||15|
|133||The Biggest Loss||17|
|133||Sunday, December 16, 1973|
|145||On the Road||19|
|146||George's Club -- March, 1974|
|151||A Major Opportunity|
|167||Emergence of a Superstar||22|
|171||A Labor of Love||23|
|188||Mixing It Up|
|195||On the Road Again||26|
|199||Whatever It Takes||27|
From Amarillo Slim Preston's book, Amarillo Slim in a World of Fat People, page 203.
The good news is that the police shot both of the crooks when then tried to get away. The bad news is that Baldwin quickly lost all the money he'd won anyway.
The book has a chapter called "Your Bankroll" that you can safely skip. Baldwin "got broke" several times, at one point being $70,000 in the red on sports bets. The chapter doesn't bother to warn you against sports wagers, where the vig will get you, or table games like craps, where you can't overcome the house's edge in the long run. In fact, the rest of the book holds more lessons in what not to do than this chapter does on what to do.
The stories, which are by far the best part of the book, also cover his low-key courtship of his second wife, Shirley. That thread is probably more educational than the bankroll chapter.
Intermingled with the story chapters are strategy chapters, each covering the basics of a poker variant he's playing. He concisely lists the four to twelve most "Common Mistakes" players make and follows with a somewhat overlapping "Final Formula" for playing the game well. These chapters are exactly what you'd want to read if you had only five minutes to learn a game you were about to play for the first time, as they're each only a few pages long. The games begin with Five-Card Stud, which was the first poker variation Baldwin played, losing his entire fortune of $6.35 at a friend's house, and go on to Ace-to-Five Lowball, Seven-Stud, Seven-Stud Lowball, Five-Card Draw, Hold 'Em, Deuce-to-Seven Draw, and High-Low Split.
Some of his best advice is tucked away at the very end of the book in the "Unsorted Secrets" chapter. For example, "You should try to specialize in one or two kinds of poker. But it pays -- it pays heavily -- to be an all-round card master."2
Overall, this was a quick and easy read that has aged well. The romantic era where poker was a very dangerous occupation will never be repeated, so all we can do is sit back and enjoy the show. As for the strategy parts of the book, I suspect Caro and Baldwin went out of their way not to step on Doyle Brunson's toes, since they had both just contributed to his Super System.