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In2011 a magazine staked the author to a $10,000 entrance fee to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas in order to write about it.
Well, write about it he does, in a rambling, self indulgent style that tries to be clever but winds up being a pretentious bore. In a total of 235 pages, he doesn`t get around to playing in the tournament until page 177. The rest is taken up in describing his trips to Atlantic City to practice casino Texas Hold`em. which was really not the supposed point of the book.
For those who watch the Series on TV every year, there are some interesting facts and observations; too bad they couldn`t have been written in a straightforward manner.
This is a book about high stakes poker and how one gets to play in the World Series of Poker. You might think that you would learn something about how a good poker player thinks, how and when they bluff, details about the different poker games, etc. You may well think that but you will be disappointed. Mr. Whitehead is clearly a good writer but he spends most of his time writing about everything but his subject. His self-effacing style is endearing but subject matter is disappointing to me.
Mostly half baked. Some interesting ideas like the value of 'M' in life - but nothing really developed. A puffed up middle riff which seemed to serve no other purpose than to show the author is no Jack Kerouac - but if his self esteem is what he says it is that should make him happy. So for those two hour flights where the time is pretty much a waste anyway it will get you to the next airport.
This was my first time reading Colson Whitehead. I am fairly new to poker and the summary sounded like a fun read. I honestly feel like I wasted my time reading the book. The few good bits (for me) were those tied directly to his quest in the WSOP, including the sessions with the "coach." The other rambling bits (with random attempts at witty prose) were not that enjoyable.
2.0 out of 5 starsWhat On Earth was the Point of This Book?
Reviewed in the United States on 16 May 2014
A few years ago I read a book by Colson Whitehead that I just loved -- "Sag Harbor" -- and felt it was one of the best novels that I read that year. So...I thought, a new book by a favorite author on a subject I find of interest should be a lock...I have played poker for years, and this year my son is going to be playing in the WSOP for the third time, so I do have a certain familiarity with the subject, although I am more of a straight poker player myself. Hold'em is just not my game, and I do find a certain level of incivility seems to be the rule for many featured players (and I do think that a section near the end where Whitehead muses on the decline and fall of the old-style professional Hold'em players due to the Internet is correct)....I am also very familiar with Las Vegas, having gone there for the first time at age 13 with my parents, at a time when it was not a kid-friendly town. So my anticipation of a good reading experience is whetting my appetite for Whitehead's book.
So...Colson Whitehead presents the reader with a giant mishmash of information. The section that dealt with poker hands I must assume was supposed to be funny but instead made me want to throw the book against the wall..forcefully: signed portraits of Ben Vereen, snow globes, GPS devices, seat warmers, etc., to explain poker hands made no sense at all. Only someone who already knows a straight from a flush is going to make any sense of Whitehead's "explanation" and we don't need it. His explanation of blinds was only slightly more comprehensible, but more so to someone who already knows the rules. His contempt for his fellow players in Atlantic City was a disappointment...so sorry, Mr Whitehead, that you had to sit next to such middle and "lower class" players that you felt justified in passing judgement upon, along with the waitresses who wanted to give you free BAVREGES. At this point I found it hard to continue, but pressed mainly because I wanted to see Whitehead get his "comeuppance" (the main reason I finished "The Magnificent Ambersons"). The most interesting section -- the part about the jerky and you have to wait almost to the end to get to it. Big disappointment from a favorite author...