Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Shut Up and Deal

22 MAY 07

I’m re-reading Shut Up and Deal by Jesse May. The pages are literally falling out of the book. This is due to a combination for poor book binding and the fact that I’ve read this damn book 4 times. It’s a good story and an interesting read, mostly because it’s written as if someone was speaking into a tape recorder. If you can get past the loose style you find two things:

It’s a good read.
It’s a GREAT instruction book.

Here is the partial review from Amazon:

May's speedy, coming-of-age debut unfolds in the insular, all-male world of high-stakes professional poker, where staying in the action is everything and money is just a way of keeping score. Narrator Mickey, who joins the pro circuit at the age of 21, is surrounded by a large cast of eccentrics with stereotypical nicknames like Vinnie the Greek, Fresca Kid and Uptown Raoul.

I know that calling this an instruction book seems silly, especially given that instruction was not the intention. There are plenty of other books that talk about how to play specific hands and calculating pot odds. What’s different here is that you get to hear how a professional thinks. You learn about identifying leaks, whether they be in the “pit” or in your own generosity. You learn that all pros get broke and what they do to recover. You learn about what it takes to make it in this world. It’s dirty and raw and exciting and gut-wrenching and surreal and you just want more.

I’ve tried to do some research on the author, Jesse May. The book is written in the first person perspective of Mickey, the protagonist. If you click the link above, you go to the Wiki entry on Jesse, which says that he actually played in a televised episode of Late Night Poker under the pseudonym of Mickey Dane. Apparently, Jesse is now (or at least was) the host of said show.

I played a little medium stakes poker at the Borgata and the Taj in Atlantic City, and I had a copy of the book with me. Several players spotted it and said they not only knew Jesse, but that he played in there occasionally. I wish he was there to ask him how much of the book was personal experience and how much was made up.

If it was mostly made up, then it’s one helluva tale. If it’s all from first hand true experience, it’s even better.

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