Is probably playing poker. Or maybe writing about poker. His book Getting Lucky The Education of a Mad Poker Player

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WHEN he's not writing or translating opera librettos, Richard Sparks is probably playing poker. Or maybe writing about poker. His book "Getting Lucky: The Education of a Mad Poker Player" will be launched next at 2 p.m. Sunday at Dutton's Bookstore in Beverly Hills. He'll be on hand to sign copies.

"Everyone in Hollywood is a hyphenate," Sparks says. "You know, actor-waiters and such. I've met someone who calls himself a location scout-conductor." But seriously Sparks wrote the libretto for Los Angeles Opera's "Concierto para Mendez," premiering Oct. 14 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, as well as a new translation of Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" for the company that will open Nov. 19. He's also directing Mozart's "Don Giovanni" for El Dorado Opera at the El Portal Theatre in NoHo in October.

"Getting Lucky" is his second poker book. He wrote the first, "Diary of a Mad Poker Player," last year after getting "brutally beaten on the Internet when I was playing poker to avoid doing my work -- which is writing. I love playing poker, and I love writing. So I decided to do both."

Sparks says he's not too good at the mathematics of the game but much better at its psychology. "I've spent a lifetime in the theater, working with actors," he said the other day from Seville, Spain, where he and his artist wife, Jenny Okun, were taking photographs to be used in the "Don Giovanni" production. "So it's natural for me to read body language."






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