The Review : Code Breaker Turned Strategy Writer by Herbert O. Yardley

In late 1957 there came a publication that for an entire era of poker players would serve as an excellent introduction to poker strategy – Herbert O. Yardley’s tiny, immensely influential book titled The Education of a Poker Player. 

A bestseller in its day, for many poker players over the following couple of decades it would remain just one poker strategy book they’d ever heard of. Here is the brief review of the Code Breaker Turned Strategy writer by Herbert O.Yardley.

The Origins of “Intelligence” of Yardley

Code Breaker Turned Strategy

Yardley’s debut novel, The Education of a Poker Player, was not his first encounter to American popular culture. Indeed, the book was released at the conclusion of Yardley’s colorful life, long after his days as the United States’ leading code breaker during and after World War I.

Yardley released The American Black Chamber in 1931, revealing to the public his role as the creator and chief of MI-8, a cryptanalytic group founded by the United States shortly after WWI and eventually disbanded following the 1929 stock market crisis. MI-8, popularly known as the “Black Chamber,” is sometimes linked to the National Security Agency of today or NSA.

The American Black Chamber was a tremendous seller for Yardley, but it sparked controversy since it revealed numerous secrets that the US government did not want made public.

In reality, the government considered suing Yardley over the book’s publishing, but finally decided against it. However, rules against the disclosure of official documents were later enacted, preventing Yardley from writing a second book about his time with MI-8.

Code Breaker Turned Strategy as an Anecdote and Advice Poker Book

The book Code Breaker Turned Strategy is both a poker strategy guide and an autobiography, beginning with Yardley’s life as a boy growing up in Worthington, Indiana, and progressing to chronicle his exploits cracking Japanese codes in China with MI-8, all while imparting precise poker strategy tips. Visit slot gacor the best place for you.

The book is divided into three sections. Yardley weaves numerous poker teachings into his engaging personal anecdotes in the first two books, both titled “Three Poker Stories.”

1. Code Breaker Turned Strategy First Section

The first section focuses on Yardley’s childhood, when he learned how to play poker in Indiana saloons. The story revolves mostly around Yardley’s time at Monty’s Place, a bar. Yardley favored Monty’s “because it had more color and motion.”

“Monty” is a character in the novel who is portrayed as teaching young Yardley how to play varieties of five-card draw, five-card stud, and five-card draw.

Some have speculated that the Monty depicted in The Education of a Poker Player is a composite of many persons Yardley knew, but the author believed he was a real person. Along with Monty’s game-specific counsel, he provides more general tips on hand reading, tells, and other poker-specific psychological difficulties.

2. Code Breaker Turned Strategy Second Section

The book’s second section depicts an older Yardley working as a code cracker in China. In this scene, Yardley plays the mentor figure, instructing his interpreter in five-card draw, seven-card stud, and seven-card stud hi-lo. As in the previous half, the chapters,  all have summaries detailing extremely comprehensive hand examples intended to illustrate the strategic principles being explored further.

3. Code Breaker Turned Strategy Third Section

A third and final section of code breaker turned strategy provides brief descriptions of additional, even more esoteric stud and draw games including Baseball, Doctor Pepper, and Spit-in-the-Ocean. 

Code Breaker Turned Strategy First Section : Tight as a Player, Loose as a Write

Al Alvarez, whose book The Biggest Game in Town was discussed last week, once defined The Education of a Poker Player as “a funny, vivid, totally suggests that the “ book” that, despite its flaws, teaches poker players an important lesson: always try to get the best of it, and avoid situations where you can’t.

As Alvarez puts it, “Yardley’s Law” is to “assume bad things, believe no one, and make your strike only when you are positive that you are unbeatable or have, at most, very strong odds in your favor.”

Yardley’s literary style, while tight as a player, may be classified as a little loose. Here’s a sample it’s not Shakespeare, but it’s also not wholly “unliterary.”

Yardley’s many digressions have a comically indulgent tone to them. While the anecdotes are typically well-told and entertaining, they occasionally lack the discipline that he exhibits at the tables.

This is due to the fact that all of the poker advise closely follows Alvarez’s above-quoted paraphrasing of “Yardley’s Law.” Avoid unpleasant, negative-EV circumstances as much as possible, and do your best to let the suckers give you their money. 

Code Breaker Turned Strategy First Section : Mr. Cool Plays a Square Game

In the end, Yardley comes off as a cool and worldly James Bond-like person, with many of the stories from Monty’s Place and different backrooms in China contributing to the author’s hard-boiled, tough guy worldview.

The book was a huge financial success, potentially showing the public’s desire for a true poker strategy guide, as well as its thirst for exotic (and maybe inflated) stories of international intrigue from a American code breaker.

When an extract from The Education of a Poker Player ran in The Saturday Evening Post on November 9, 1957, it “broke the sales record by selling 5.6 million copies,” according to James McManus.

While numerous poker books would be created and published over the next several decades, Yardley’s book was the one that most players were probably to have read during that time period, assuming they read any poker books at all.

I recall telling the late Lou Krieger that The Education of a Poker Player was the first poker book he’d ever read and the only one he’d read for the next couple of decades, at least as far as poker literature goes.

Read More: Tree of Light Review: RTP 96.10%, Evoplay

Share

You may also like...