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Moneymaker inspired a legion of online amateurs with his Cinderella story. Poker websites are veritable training grounds for the World Series of Poker, as well as other less high-profile tournaments, whose number of contestants and purse money continue to rise in tandem.
Colson Whitehead has now added his own contribution to this sparse and rather obscure list with his new book, The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death. Back in the spring ofwhen the World Series of Poker was in its twelfth year, English writer A. For the next twenty-seven nights, he took up residence in the Golden Nugget hotel on Fremont Street in the downtown section of Vegas known as Glitter Gulch.
Today, as was the case inthe neon lights of Glitter Gulch are eclipsed by those of the Strip. Ask any recent Vegas visitor if they happened to check out downtown Fremont during their trip and they will likely look at you mysteriously, as if you asked them whether or not they checked out a bunch of shrubs nearby the Grand Canyon. It was Stu Unger who won the title along with less than half a million dollars.
Last year, at the not-so humble Rio Hotel and Casino on the Strip, the tournament venue since after its purchase by Caesars, the number of Main Event contestants exceeded six thousand; the winner claimed over eight million dollars. His reverence for them comes from his understanding that these men, who live by their wits and ride out their losses almost as casually as they do their victories, are simply cut from a different cloth.
He lets them speak for themselves in their identical drawls, which is smart, since each is well-supplied with hard-earned, no-nonsense insights into their profession, and some, notably Jack Straus, are consummate raconteurs.
Our reporter at large is as English as Amarillo Slim Preston is southern. The unrelenting heat of Nevada affects Alvarez acutely. When I wrote that he was interned in Glitter Gulch, I did so because Alvarez himself likens his stay to a sentence in a penitentiary. He is clearly not a cowboy. It affords him a critical distance. Alvarez is also a stranger to high-stakes poker. The contradiction between their big-heartedness away from the table and their aggressive, cutthroat tactics at the table is never lost on Alvarez, either.
InJames McManus found himself in circumstances similar to A. Like Alvarez, McManus was a poker player by hobby, uninitiated to the world of high-stakes competition. A player can either pay the steep ten thousand dollar The Church Of Shit - Stat Dad - Mominatrix (Vinyl), thereby paying his or her way into the tournament, or compete at the variously priced satellite tables beforehand in the hopes of clinching a berth.
Whereas Alvarez remained a railbird or poker spectator throughout his twenty-seven nights in Glitter Gulch, McManus became an unwitting contender for the title in the very tournament he was being paid to report on. His use of the present tense to describe key hands makes it feel as if the action is unfolding as we read it, and his shock and exhilaration after each favorable turn of the card is registered at the same time as ours. We are with McManus as he advances. His total recall for bets, hole cards, and flop cards made me wonder if he was relying on memory alone or if the tournament organizers keep records of every hand played.
Either way, the very entertaining play-by-play passages in the book may explain why poker has turned into such a stalwart ratings performer for sports broadcasters these days. From tothe number of Main Event contestants rose steadily from seventy-five to McManus mentions how the playing field is populated by younger players schooled on The Church Of Shit - Stat Dad - Mominatrix (Vinyl) programs; some wear hats — baseball hats, not Stetsons — emblazoned with the names of corporate sponsors.
With its patriarch dead for over a decade, the Binion empire appears to be crumbling too. One of the accused, his The Church Of Shit - Stat Dad - Mominatrix (Vinyl) girlfriend, claims in court that Ted had once put a hit out on his sister Becky, then president of the Horseshoe.
It is a claim Becky does not dispute. Recent telecasts of the World Series of Poker reveal players who are mostly young and sartorially-challenged. It would be just three years before Chris Moneymaker claimed the title, effectively breaking the tournament and the game wide open.
The following year, the World Series of Poker had a new home and sponsor, and the number of Main Event contestants tripled. It makes perfect sense, then, that in the sports and entertainment website Grantland felt the time was ripe to send a reporter of its own to cover the tournament as it exists today, thereby adding its name to the short list of estimable publications who also recognized the literary merit of the assignment.
In this sense, The Noble Hustle is like Positively Fifth Street without the improbable and exhilarating run by its author. For a memoir, The Noble Hustle is remarkably aloof as well. There are several missed opportunities in The Noble Hustle.
Inthe Feds shut down the major American online poker sites; known as Black Friday among poker insiders, the shutdown had major financial implications on the game and its players. Whitehead refers to Black Friday only offhandedly and fails to explore its impact on the tournament. Whitehead is as capable a writer as they are. But his forerunners had a more probing and contagious interest in the game and the people who play it.
Doerr seems really proud of the fact that he managed The Church Of Shit - Stat Dad - Mominatrix (Vinyl) squeeze in some math into his book, as he mentions it in nearly every interview. But this is not a dense book. If you really believe this, you have absolutely no understanding of American popular culture. I would say that Doerr has a pretty good understanding of how popcult works, as his book is about WW2 and has a sympathetic, ie complex, Nazi in it. I have to agree with Ben. No one ever went hungry making a movie or writing a book about World War II.
That is a nice sentence, but I rebel against the received notion almost holy writ in writing courses at this point that the more compressed language is, the better. It all depends on context and desired effect. Adjectives and adverbs are great at revealing character perspective, and for the purposes of achieving comic effect. The British comic tradition is, for example, about half indebted to the use of judicious adverbs. Is a completely different sentence with the addition of one word.
For that matter, if compression of language is the ideal, the sentence could be a lot more compressed. Presumably, however, Doerr wrote the sentence this way because it sounded better to him.
Again, context. And I believe it has tended to produce, over the last thirty years, an unobjectionable economical American literary style that is, at once, adequate, and somehow lacking in the stylistic idiosyncracies and extravagances that can make great writing great. Whenever I stoop to reading the comments on an essay I find interesting on The Millions I am always taken aback by not just the negativity, but the seeming universality of that negativity in the comments.
Unsuccessful writers among the group perhaps? The easiest answer, right? I agree that an accusation of pandering is probably a bridge too far get it? Especially considering that most bestsellers read as though they were written by victims of head trauma. And I strongly agree that those who would teach the art of writing need to start with the basic mechanics of the English sentence.
Leave plot and character for later — first try a little style. I would advocate for the absolute opposite. The idea that the sentence is the basic unit of writing—which this article advocates—is hateful garbage. Cars splashing along the street are the cues for the street itself, the objects on it, and their movement; the sound diminshing in the distance the vanishing point for parallel lines. Americans seem to me to not be hungry for anything without an American perspective.
I did have an experience coming down from peyote, on an overcast night in Big Sur, no moon, under a redwood tree, and in a tent. As the spark of my nightcap-joint died away I had a brief panic at having no visual cues to tell me there was anything but nothing around me.
The panic lifted as I began to hear sounds, insects, wind in the trees, and sense a three dimensional space from the sounds and faint echoes. I disagree with the idea that a blind person does not have a concept of space, and does not know what street is, or a runnel, or a tree. The sentence does not disturb the perspective of blindness. Aunt Judy: You should read this book I read in my book club.
Aunt Judy: Who cares, the sentences are unbelievable! The author seems to suggest that there is a straight-line correlation between quality and sales.
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