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Shut Up And Deal

Jesse May

101 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1901982564 / ISBN 13: 9781901982565
Published by No Exit Press
Used Condition: VERY GOOD Soft cover
From OwlsBooks (Toledo, OH, U.S.A.)

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Light rubbing wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins not affecting the text. Possible clean ex-library copy, with their stickers and or stamp(s). Bookseller Inventory # 2511810783

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Shut Up And Deal

Publisher: No Exit Press

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:VERY GOOD

About this title


In 1987, there was legalized poker in Nevada and in one county of California. Author Jesse May was seventeen years old and already hooked. By 1996, poker could be legally played in casinos in over twenty states of the union and five countries in Europe. Legalization changed the face of poker, and as the game came of age, so did May, who by 1989 had dropped out of the University of Chicago after one year due to irreconcilable differences between Tuesday- and Thursday-morning classes and Monday- and Wednesday-night poker games.

Based on his experiences in the strange world of poker, May's debut novel Shut Up and Deal is the story of a nontraditional '90s slacker, a dropout with an incurable obsession and incredible stamina, who makes a career in a profession where the only goals are to stay in action and to not go broke. In Shut Up and Deal, a professional poker player takes readers along on his adventures over several years in and out of casinos and card rooms in locales such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Amsterdam.

Told in a catching, likeable voice, this story offers up one rip-roaring poker-table drama after another, with narrator Mickey ultimately finding himself in a spot that jeopardizes his entire bankroll and calls into question his morals, such as they are. In rhythmic, high-octane prose that is as addictive as the game it describes, Shut Up and Deal zooms in on the swirling, feverish microcosm of the contemporary poker world from its very first line and never cuts away.


The vignettes in Shut Up and Deal are a bizarre mingling of Damon Runyon and David Mamet. Mickey, the book's narrator, is always playing cards with people who have monikers such as Uptown Raoul, Hot Mama Earl, Johnny World, and Vinnie the Greek, and he himself generally wears at these card games something like "yellow pants and a green double-breasted jacket from the seventies and a green and yellow flowered shirt with dark sunglasses" in order to sucker the unsuspecting mark into maybe thinking that he is not such a good poker player and that his money can be easily won, which it usually cannot. Yet the dialogue, relecting life on the professional poker circuit, is stark and brutal, as in Mickey's advice to a dilettante who is considering following in his footsteps: "All I can tell you is that it's lonely out there, real fuckin' lonely, and your play doesn't matter so much as how tough you are and whether or not you fall apart."

The plot, like poker itself, is a transitory affair. "I been playing for over six years now," says Mickey, the narrator of Shut Up and Deal, "and I still try and start each day as a new day, pick myself off the floor and get focused." This works fine when you're sitting at the poker table, where no given hand means anything in the context of any other given hand, but readers who enjoy traditional narrative, where events have a causal relationship to the events immediately preceding, will face a stiff challenge in the unrelenting cycle of hands won and lost with no visible grander scheme of things in which player--and reader--might take solace. --Ron Hogan

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