“I have a good poker face because I am half dead inside.” So begins the hilarious and unexpectedly moving adventures of an amateur player who lucked into a seat at the biggest card game in town—the World Series of Poker.
In 2011 Grantland magazine sent award-winning novelist Colson Whitehead to brave the harrowing, seven-day gauntlet of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. It was the assignment of a lifetime, except for one hitch—he’d never played in a casino tournament before.
With just six weeks to train, our humble narrator plunged into the gritty subculture of high-stakes Texas Hold’em. There’s poker here, sure, which means joy and heartbreak, grizzled cowboys from the game’s golden age, and teenage hotshots weaned on internet gambling. Not to mention the overlooked problem of coordinating Atlantic City bus schedules with your kid’s drop-off and pick-up at school.
And then there’s Vegas.
In a world full of long shots and short odds, The Noble Hustle is a sure bet, a raucously funny social satire whose main target is the author himself. Whether you’ve been playing cards your whole life or have never picked up a hand, you’re sure to agree that this book contains some of the best writing about beef jerky ever put to paper.
Colson Whitehead is the author of the novels The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and Sag Harbor. He has also written a book of about his hometown, a collection of essays called The Colossus of New York. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Granta, Harper’s, and the New Yorker. A recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, a MacArthur grant, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, he lives in New York City.