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The wry poker and espionage memoirs of Herbert O. Yardley, the U.S.l State Department codebreaker who upgraded U.S. intelligence efforts before World War I, broke the Japanese diplomatic code and caught a Nazi spy while playing poker with him in pre-revolutionary China. While Yardley does give instruction in the proper way to play draw, stud and jokers-wild, his book does not focus on numbers and pot odds. Instead, Yardley shows through his stories of learning poker in the back room of an Indiana saloon and at diplomatic gatherings in China how to get inside the other player’s head. Yardley shows us the human side of poker. His stories are concerned with the personalities of people who played poker with him, and how that knowledge helped him to beat them at the game consistently. It is also a terrific slice-of-life look at small-town life in Middle World War II. Even the characters not immediately concerned with poker offer keen insights which can be used by the smart poker player. Yardley should be read by anyone who seriously wants to improve his chances at the poker table by sharpening his people-reading skills.
About the Author
Herbert O. Yardler was born on April 13, 1889 in Worthington, Indiana. His father was the station master and telegraph operator for the railroad and from this he learned the telegraph code. Yardley founded and led the cryptographic organization the Black Chamber. Under Yardley, the cryptanalysts of The American Black Chamber broke Japanese diplomatic codes and were able to furnish American negotiators with significant information during the Washington Naval Conference of 1921-1922. He wrote The American Black Chamber (1931) about his experiences there. He later helped the Nationalists in China (1938–1940) to break Japanese codes. Following his work in China, Yardley worked briefly for the Canadian government, helping it set up a cryptological section (Examination Unit) of the National Research Council of Canada from June to December 1941. Ian Fleming, author of the famous James Bond Series including “From Russia with Love”, was drawn to Herbert O. Yardley not least for gaming and high living, but as an icon in U.S. Intelligence. Herbert O. Yardley died on August 7, 1958, shortly after this book was published. In 1999, he was given a place in the National Security Agency Hall of Honor. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Grave 429-1 of Section 30. Yardley is a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame. The National Cryptologic Museum’s library has 16 boxes of Yardley’s personal files.