Big Deal author Anthony Holden dies aged 76

Pen on playing cards

Anthony Holden, author of Big Deal: A Year as a Professional Poker Player, has died at the age of 76.

The author and critic

Writer and poker player Anthony Holden died this weekend at the age of 76 from brain cancer and complications from a stroke.

Holden spent most of his professional life as a music critic and biographer. In the latter role, he re-documented the lives of Shakespeare and Tchaikovsky and wrote the first definitive biography of King Charles while he was still a prince.

However, he is best known in gambling circles for his 1992 book Big deal: One year as a professional poker playeris considered a classic.

Make a big deal

Holden was part of a poker literary clique that included Martin Amis and Al Alvarez, and appeared with them in an early episode of the British television series Late Night Poker.

He also appeared in several poker documentaries on British television.

This is where my love for poker grew Big thing in which Holden, with the help of his publisher, took a year off from his regular job to play poker. Along the way, he documented his travels from Las Vegas to Morocco, Malta and London before returning to Vegas in time for the book’s finale, his experience at the 1988 WSOP Main Event.

Holden followed up the book in 2006 Bigger Deal: A Year in the Poker Boom.

He became the first president of the International Federation of Matched Poker in 2009.

Leaving Las Vegas

There’s a line in the first book where Holden describes the feeling of leaving Vegas behind after a long poker trip:

The world will have the courage to move on without me, and I will never know who won and who lost.”

“The thought of all the card rooms buzzing in my absence, all the pots I could have attacked, was like the familiar anger at the prospect of death – that the world will have the courage to go on without me , and that’s what I’m going to do.” You never know who won and who lost.”

Unfortunately, the poker world finds out – the cancer won and we lost.


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