British poet and author Al Alvarez passed away Monday in his London home. Alvarez, 90, died of viral pneumonia.
Alvarez penned one of the most influential poker books ever written. “The Biggest Game In Town” was published in 1983 and documented the behind-the-scenes activity of the 1981 World Series of Poker. It was originally an article in The New Yorker before it was expanded into a book.
“I felt like I had walked into a Sam Peckinpah movie,” Alvarez said in his 1999 memoir about his first experience with professional poker players. “Cowboys in alligator boots, wildcatters wearing Stetsons and Dior ties, gnarled good old boys with eyes like ferrets who farmed in West Texas.”
It was one of the first books that introduced the general public into the world of professional poker and some have referred to it as the best book ever written on the subject.
Alvarez wrote a couple of dozen books in his career, but only wrote one other book on poker. In 2001, Alvarez published “Poker: Bets, Bluffs, and Bad Beats”. His other books were centered around his other passions in life, such as his love of rock climbing.
Many of poker’s prominent figures took to Twitter to express their grief of Alvarez’s passing.
RIP Al Alvarez: a great man, who loved poker enough to write one of its seminal books yet remembered also to see the world, climb mountains and have a million other adventures. He didn’t just play online in a onesie. I wanted to be like him, and I’m so sorry he’s left the game.
— Victoria Coren Mitchell (@VictoriaCoren) September 24, 2019
I’m very sad to hear of the death of Al Alvarez who I knew a little, and liked and admired very much indeed.
— Barny Boatman (@barnyboatman) September 24, 2019
The Biggest Game in Town is iconic. RIP.
— Christian Harder (@realcharder30) September 24, 2019
Such a wonderful man. Very sad.
— John Duthie (@JohnnyDuthie) September 24, 2019
According to his obituary in The Guardian, Alvarez was an avid poker player himself, having played the game for about 50 years. He is survived by his wife Anne Adams, as well as his children Luke and Kate.