Nick Dandalos, a penniless Greek immigrant from Smyrna, is staked when he comes to America -- a $25,000 nest-egg from a rich godfather who wants him to go into the fig importing business. But when Nick goes to Chicago (Halstead Street, 1919), he gets gambling fever: he bets innocently on a two-bit turtle race at a social-club, wins a long-shot, makes friends (and a girlfriend, suffragette Marina), tries craps, higher stakes, then poker -- and loses the $25,000 that his godfather gave him. Resolving never to lose like that again, Nick studies with a master gambler, Nestor; he learns well, begins to win, once so big that he becomes legendary. But then the Mafia gets their claws in him, and Nick loses Marina. And without a good woman at his side, what's the use of all his winning? The gambling scenes here are effective and tight, but otherwise this is strangely fiat and corny storytelling, with dialogue straight out of the Late Late Show: ""Wherever in the world men gamble, they'll talk of this game, about the players and the stakes. You might be right that I'm a little mad . . . but I could never rest if after coming this far, I drew back from the big game."" Far from prime Petrakis -- a bland, oft-told tale.