Liar’s Poker

Liar’s Poker¬†is a non-fiction, semi-autobiographical¬†book by¬†Michael Lewis¬†describing the author’s experiences as a¬†bond¬†salesman on¬†Wall Street¬†during the late 1980s.[1]¬†First published in 1989, it is considered one of the books that defined Wall Street during the 1980s, along with¬†Bryan Burrough¬†and John Helyar’s¬†Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, and the fictional¬†The Bonfire of the Vanities¬†by¬†Tom Wolfe. The book captures an important period in the history of Wall Street. Two important figures in that history feature prominently in the text, the head of¬†Salomon Brothers‘ mortgage department¬†Lewis Ranieri¬†and the firm’s CEO¬†John Gutfreund.

The book’s name is taken from liar’s poker, an American bar game that combines statistical reasoning with bluffing, and is played with the eight digits of the serial number on U.S. dollar bills. The digits are usually ranked with the 1 as “ace” as the highest value, followed by 0 as “10”, down to 2 as the lowest. Each player holds one bill, unseen by the other players. The objective is to guess how often a particular digit appears among all the bills held by all the players. Each guess or bid must be higher in quantity, or equal in quantity but higher in value, than the previous bid. The round ends when all the other players challenge a bid.


Read or listen to Liar’s Poker

by Michael Lewis