Shut Up And Deal

” border=”0″>Shut Up And Deal when I broke my ankle in Lake Tahoe recently.
I had a lot of time to sit in one place, and so I ploughed through most of the reading I brought with me. Jesse May, the protagonist of the book is two parts Charles Bukowski, one part card shark, and one part obsessive-compulsive. Written as a personal diary through several years of his life as a professional gambler, May shows us exactly what it is to ride the emotional roller coaster that is professional gambling.

We learn from May that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. And when you win, it’s all about luck. When you lose, you get to both blame luck and your skill (or lack thereof). The reader feels Jesse’s depression as he sits at the poker tables and wins, as well as those awful sessions where he basically funds every other player at the table, who takes a share of his bankroll, and then having had enough for the night, gets up and walks away with his money, denying him the chance to win it back.

We also see inside Jesse’s particular bizarre gambler obsession: clothing. All hardcore gamblers have some quirk which they use as an outlet for stress; May’s is buying really bizarre clothes at the Salvation Army, and then running upstairs to his hotel room and changing when he starts to lose. Along with his constantly-worn reflective sunglasses, we suspect that the more he changes clothes, the more his poker opponents know he’s on tilt, and liable to play badly. (Since nobody ever gets up from a table when they’re winning.)

I enjoyed this book a lot, but it requires a caveat: unlike most of the other poker books around, it’s definately written in the first person, and with an almost stream-of-conciousness style. If you’ve previously had problems with books like this, you might want to try and read it in a bookstore or one of the excerpts on Amazon before buying it.