The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death by Colson Whitehead (4 out of 5)
Again! Problems with uploading images of the books I have finished. This was a super quick and fun read. I just wish it had been more lengthy. Then again, the fact that it was originally guaranteed as a piece for a magazine kind of guaranteed that it wouldn’t be a long book. Still.. I enjoyed it, but wish it had been longer- say the length of the Ben Mezrich book Bringing Down The House. I think that may have been my first foray into poker and the lengths some people will go to in pursuit of the almighty poker jackpot. That was a little bit more of a serious tome. Whitehead has moments, but overall, a very funny little book. I just wish it had been a longer book and gone into more details of his poker partners and advisers. Some of the people you meet in the book are real characters, and could easily hold up books of their own. Who knows, maybe Whitehead will revisit his buddies at a later date.
Colson Whitehead’s always been a local poker player, but nothing serious..until an online magazine gives him $10,000 and an assignment to see how far he can get in the famous World Series of Poker. I knew it was going to be hilarious, but I had no idea how much so. He has such a way with wording things. In amongst throngs of eccentric and hardcore poker players, Whitehead tries his best to find some deeper meaning of what goes on behind the scenes and beyond at the WSOP. The preparations he goes through to prepare for this journey- training so he’s used to sitting in one spot for long periods of time, among other things, are pretty fantastic in their detail. His revelations about what he sees as far as player participation, preparation, outright balls-to-the-wall attitudes, not to mention his own inability to really enjoy any sort of victory he does find at the tables (that’s a large part of the premise of the book, by the way.) and ultimately, his own experiences with the WSOP, are hilarious, brutally honest, sardonic, and yet uncannily accurate to the nth degree. You feel as if he’s conducting some sort of insider trading and this is his behind-the-scenes reveal. Except, unlike one of those types of books, this is much, much funnier.
Does Colson Whitehead get his big chance, or does he fold? Does he figure out which type of poker ultimately suits his talents? Does he win a shit-ton of money? Does he bust completely? Does he figure out what the secret of success is in the World Series of Poker? Does he somehow manage to be a competent poker player by night, single dad by day? Do we really learn as much about beef jerky as the subtitle promises? If so, what are the secrets of succulent beef jerky? The only, only way to find out? Read the book. You won’t be sorry.
Father’s Day? Fantastic gift idea. Especially if dear old Dad fancies himself an up and coming poker wizard, and you can’t bear to tell him the honest truth. Give him the book, I guarantee he’ll get the message.
The only thing that bugged me about the book is, as I stated earlier, the length. It’s a small, quick read. It also reads like a magazine article, one of those killer Vanity Fair reveal stories, the ones that take up most of the magazine…that’s how this is formatted almost. But like a Vanity Fair article full of great reveals, you can’t wait to sit down and dive in. Definitely a great little book to dive into.