A Banal Hustle


Title: The Noble Hustle

Rating: 2 Stars

I usually enjoy reading participatory journalism. I was just never able to get into the quest here.

Whitehead is an amateur poker player. Grantland (RIP) seeds his entry fee to the World Series of Poker and he agrees to write an article about it that ultimately turns into this book.

This book covers his exhaustion from having just finished his previous book on an impossible deadline.  Just wanting to relax but now energized by his task, he pulls himself together enough to start heading regularly to Atlantic City to join some games to up his poker chops.

He also deals with someone that teaches him yoga poses to get through the long stretches of just sitting. He finds a mentor, a professional poker player, who teaches him some of the more subtle intricacies.

His friends, according to their whim, either mock or encourage him on his journey.

At the tournament itself, he acquits himself reasonably well. Clearly he does not make it to the final table or anything like that, but he does at least survive the first day.

And that’s about it. I just did not find it compelling. I used to watch tournament poker, so I do understand the basics of the game, so it’s not as if I wasn’t inclined to find the subject engaging, but he really didn’t even go into the details of poker much.

It was mostly him, a sad schlep of a guy, trying to do just enough work to prevent himself from being an embarrassment at the tournament. Mission Accomplished!

I really didn’t even find his humor all that humorous. I don’t know; maybe I was just cranky when I read it.  It wasn’t a bad book and I don’t regret reading it, but it’s a book that I’ll probably forget about within a week.


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