An inexperienced Internet poker fish tangles with the best at Binion’s World Series of Poker—and wins big.
Our tyro on the hot seat is surnamed Moneymaker, so you might say it was in the cards. Though an amateur by Binion’s standards, the author has been drinking and gambling since an early age. He nearly tanked at the University of Tennessee, where his eyes were mainly glued to multiple televisions as he followed his sports betting and amassed a tidy little bundle of debt. He then became involved in online betting and managed to secure himself a seat at Binion’s. Moneymaker and coauthor Paisner can get lost in the detail of hands, which tends to throw water on the gathering fire. But their razor-quick prose does a good job of getting us inside Moneymaker’s head to explain why he did what he did. Mind you, as this pleasingly feckless character is quick to admit, “there were so many holes and shifts in my tournament strategy that it’s probably a stretch to even call it a strategy.” It’s great fun to watch Moneymaker mature, gathering his cool at the table where the game is Texas Hold ’Em, no fools are suffered, and “over time, the player with the most smarts and guile and intuition and experience, and the biggest balls, is always going to win.” (The vernacular is shorthand for courage, as there are dozens of crack women playing.) He learns to read certain tics of the great players, though not enough to avoid some big, blunt hits that teach him about patience, perhaps a player’s greatest asset. And he plays well enough to be graced with touches of luck just when they count most.
“There is no justice in poker,” says Moneymaker, and it’s true. But bring some smarts, guile, intuition, experience—and luck—to the table, and it can be as much fun as this firsthand account.