There are numerous books available on poker. Rule books, history books, descriptions, strategy guides, tricks and tips, and all they want to do is teach their readers about how to play better poker – and possibly how to make a living playing the most popular card game ever invented by man. But there are not so many books that tell us a story about playing poker, about how it feels, what it involved, and where it could lead. “The Dark Side of the Felt” is one of these books. The author, Tyler Nals, tells us his story about how he managed to survive in the world of underground poker.

The author starts by stating that he is not by far a guy who plays million dollar tournaments on television, or somebody who risks a few bucks through an online casino (which would surely be much safer), but one who has risked his life on a nightly basis in the world of underground poker in Long Island, and later Charlotte. The book is written for poker lovers by a man who understands what the game is all about, and the world that revolves around it – something that can be much darker and deeper than everyday life, with a blurred line between gambling and addiction. More importantly, it is a story – a story about the life of a poker player spiraling deeper and deeper into the dark world of borderline illegal gambling. Of course, it’s not without poker strategies – but it’s by far not a poker book. As the story unravels, the tension grows with each chapter. The stakes go higher, and so does the risk, both at the table and away from it.

The Dark Side of the Felt got mostly positive reviews for both its style and action. Some consider it to be non-fiction hidden under layers of fiction, others think it’s rather an autobiography (and this is what the book’s description suggests, where it says “This story is about how I managed to survive, but just barely”). The book is filled with action and tension, eased sometimes by a dash of humor and drama, making it an enjoyable read from cover to cover. Although it deals with a world of its own – poker – and is filled with poker lingo, the novel is a great read for those not familiar with the game at all. But beware – it might make you want to start playing the game. Even if you are not a poker player, or you haven’t the slightest about the game itself, you can immerse yourself into this entertaining tale of risks and wagers – and be thrilled.

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