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  • Anthony Holden


    Anthony Holden’s book Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Player has become a cult classic, enjoying no fewer than six editions since its first publication in 1990, with worldwide sales now well into six figures. His long-awaited sequel, Bigger Deal: A Year on the New Poker Circuit, published in May 2007, also launched this website. In November 2008 he also published a strategy manual, entitled Holden on Hold'em.

    A veteran of the legendary Tuesday Night game, Holden was introduced to poker by his lifelong friend Al Alvarez, whom he first met while a student in 1968. A Vegas regular since the late 1970s, Holden won the first Celebrity Late Night Poker in 2000 – and last year won his WSOP ‘main event’ entry by beating three world champions (Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer and Chris Moneymaker) in a London tournament organized by He has since been a PokerStars-sponsored player on the European Poker Tour while writing his next book, Holden on Hold'em, published in November 2008.

    A prolific writer with a wide range of interests and enthusiasms, Holden is also well-known for his biographies of such disparate figures as Shakespeare and Tchaikovsky, Laurence Olivier and the Prince of Wales. He has written a a history of Hollywood’s Oscars, and the true-crime book The Saint Albans Poisoner, filmed as The Young Poisoner's Handbook. His most recent books are biographies of the Romantic poet-critic Leigh Hunt, The Wit in the Dungeon, and Mozart’s librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, The Man Who Wrote Mozart. Holden has also translated operas for English National Opera and Greek pastoral poetry for Penguin Classics.

    Born in Lancashire and educated at Oxford, Holden enjoyed an award-winning career in journalism before becoming a freelance writer and broadcaster after a public row with Rupert Murdoch while assistant editor of The Times in 1982. Columnist of the Year at the Sunday Times, also honoured in the British Press Awards for his reporting from Northern Ireland, Holden has also been US editor of The Observer, based in Washington DC, and was founder-editor of Eddy Shah’s Today newspaper in 1985-6. He is now (in between poker games) classical music critic of The Observer.

    Holden’s three sons – Sam, Joe and Ben – are all classy poker players whom you might well run into in tourneys. Like their father, they are all passionate supporters of Arsenal FC.

    Holden’s poker slogan ? "Always expect the worst…"

    Anthony's Blogs

    • 17 Jun 2009 - The International Federation of Poker (IFP)

      On 29 April, at a grand ceremony in Lausanne, Switzerland, I enjoyed the distinct honour of being elected the first President of the International Federation of Poker (IFP).

      It’s an abrupt change of career course for me, but a challenge I already find both energising and rewarding. The chance to lead poker’s first governing body, and to work towards poker’s international recognition as a skilled ‘mind-sport’ rather than just another form of gambling, was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

    • 17 Dec 2008 - Dec TNG Report

      Congrats to bluenose62 of Birmingham, chip leader most of the way through our December tourney – and its eventual, emphatic winner.

      In a field thinned by Christmas parties and there’s-a-lot-of-it-about – gastric flu prevented even our resident whiz-kid Oliver Chubb from playing in his own eponymous tournament –there was high percentage of American starters, not to mention a German or three.

    • 11 Nov 2008 - TNG – Tues 18th Nov

      This month we celebrate our New York correspondent, Peter Alson, in the password for our Tuesday Night Game. If he has finally recovered from celebrating the election of poker-playing Barack Obama – see my piece for Tina Brown’s – Pete will be joining in himself from the Big Apple. Nephew of the late, great […]

    • 10 Nov 2008 - Hold Me, Darling (Part 5)

      If the first version of poker arrived in the United States in the 1820s, imported by French sailors landing in Louisiana, it took another hundred and fifty years for ‘community card’ variants to catch on. Then, just as the poker revolution was catching fire in the early 21st Century, a Texan dealt a lethal blow to the game invented in his home state.

    • 09 Nov 2008 - Hold Me, Darling (Part 4)

      Texas Hold’em was introduced to Europe in the 1980s by the Irish bookmaker and poker entrepreneur Terry Rogers. Nicknamed the ‘Red Menace’ because of his ginger hair and bursts of belligerence, Rogers was one of the first Europeans to travel to Vegas each May for poker’s world series. At the 1980 event, he was the only bookmaker not to write off Stu ‘The Kid’ Ungar too soon, quoting him at 20-1 while all else were offering 100-1; Ungar went on to win the first of his three world crowns, beating Doyle Bruson in the heads-up.

    • 08 Nov 2008 - Hold Me, Darling (Part 3)

      Bill Boyd, Sid Wyman, Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, ‘Sailor’ Roberts, Amarillo Slim, Jack Straus, Crandell Addington – nearly all the legendary players we have already met, with the notable exception of Major Riddle, were sooner or later accorded places in the Poker Hall of Fame established in 1979. As indeed was the toughest entrepreneur of them all, if not himself much of a player, Benny Binion – none too surprising, since Binion himself founded the Hall of Fame on a suggestion from his then poker manager, Eric Drache, as a marketing ploy for an annual tournament he started in 1970 called the World Series of Poker (WSOP). In 2005 Binion’s son and successor Jack was also enrolled in the Hall of Fame, for his role in maintaining and building the World Series through the latter decades of the twentieth century.

    • 07 Nov 2008 - Hold Me, Darling (Part 2)

      Where once stood the Dunes now stands the Bellagio, opened in 1998 by the one-man force behind contemporary Las Vegas, Steve Wynn, who himself fired the cannon from his latest Strip resort, Treasure Island, that appeared to trigger the implosion of the Dunes – watched by millions on live television and since immortalised in the closing credits of Wayne Kramer’s 2003 movie The Cooler. So the spot where No Limit Hold’em was first played on the Strip is now the home of Vegas’ leading card-room – rivalled only by the sleek poker room Wynn opened in 2005 in the 215-acre, $2.7 billion Wynn, the eponymous hotel-casino he built after selling his Mirage chain to Kirk Kerkorian’s MGM Grand group in 2000 for $4.4 billion.

    • 06 Nov 2008 - Hold Me, Darling (Part 1)

      ‘This is poker?’ asked an incredulous Life magazine on 16 August 1968. Inside an issue leading on the Nixons and the Agnews, a partnership that would last all of five years, there lay buried an article introducing mainstream America to something rather more enduring: a ‘wild’ new variant of its national game of poker, called ‘Hold Me’. Above a colour photograph of no fewer than twelve men crowded around a green-baize table, most of them wearing suits and ties amid a profusion of splashed chips, exposed cards and overflowing ashtrays, the magazine sniffed that ‘the decorous mob scene below looks more like a group therapy séance down at the poker-chip factory.’

    • 04 Nov 2008 - Very Clever, Mr. Bond… (Part Three : DUTHIE INNOCENT)

      All of which means that one table in particular must have quaked into its Martinis as they took their seats in the Casino Copenhagen, as the 2006 EPT tour reached Denmark. Forget former world champion Tom McEvoy and poker legend T.J. Cloutier (more than $9 million in lifetime winnings between them), who had crossed the Atlantic for the occasion. Also taking his seat on Day One was none other Bond villain Le Chiffre himself!

    • 03 Nov 2008 - Very Clever, Mr. Bond… (Part Two)

      The next big clash between our hero and his nemesis involves a third player, Bond’s CIA friend Felix Leiter. We join the action after the turn. The communal cards are: Jh-Ks-Ac… Jd. The American bets $300,000. Bond and Le Chiffre both call. The straight is very much on, but surely, again, one of them now has the full house?