Wilde debuts with a collection of gambling-related satirical pieces populated by characters who take risks in casinos and in life.
The author knows a good deal about casinos and their patrons, and his book’s first chapter examines the quirks of online gambling. In it, Wilde’s gambler friend Melvin gets a nice haul on the internet that he plans on taking to Las Vegas, but he later realizes that he may actually prefer the virtual gaming. Other pieces poke fun at internet reliance: Wilde’s job at the website Gambling City, for example, entails meeting the staff, including a programmer who speaks only in the computer languages COBOL and BASIC. The author also lampoons how some online casinos avoid paying out winnings by claiming that an internal audit is prohibiting payment or by simply declaring bankruptcy. Later chapters target brick-and-mortar casinos and other forms of gambling. The short, fun opening pieces feature real-life people (including the author himself and the occasional U.S. president) intermingling with caricatures (such as a lawyer named Arthur Ripoff). A few recurring figures add to the enjoyment, such as customer-service representative Kathy, who’s looking for love through customer correspondence; ex–hit man Big Tony at Gambling City; and U.S. Sen. Jon Killjoy, whose determination to ban online gambling makes him the collection’s villain. Wilde also offers parodies of Shakespeare plays, movies, and TV shows while still maintaining his overall theme; in one, the management of the MGM Grand wants to hire the A-Team. The book ends with a series of conventional but entertaining short stories. In “Police, Poker, and Panties,” for instance, an Alabama cop plays poker in order to help her solve a string of armed robberies. The easygoing prose is primarily taken up with dialogue, typically Wilde’s. Some jokes, however, become repetitive, such as when casinos habitually declare customers “bonus abusers.” One tale about the author taking a trip to McDonald’s is humorous but predictable: Wilde has a coupon for a free Big Mac, but a restaurant employee tries his hardest not to give him the burger.
Readers need not be professional gamblers to enjoy these tales, which ridicule the pastime with great affection.