Thursday, March 12, 2015

Molly's Game (Book Review)

Bloggers at times get asked to do reviews based on their content. Long, long time ago, this blog was devoted to professional poker. But it's been awhile since I've been asked to review a poker-related book. So regular readers be forewarned, thar be some poker ahead.

Molly's Game is a breezy summer read. As the tagline says: "From Hollywood-elite to Wall Street's billionaire boy's club, my high-stakes adventures in the world of underground poker." Molly Bloom is, was or portents to have been the young lady who ran several high stakes poker games on both coasts.

Why "portents?" Because, although the names and dates synch-up for this to be a work of non-fiction; at times the literary gloss is just too shiny to ring completely true. But first, the good news.

Many of the negative reviews of this book harp on the lifestyles of the rich, famous and degenerate players in Molly's game. Those critiques are fairly shallow. I mean it's not like the promotional blurbs didn't make it clear what the story was about. If you don't want to read about certain aspects of a culture, than don't. But critiquing after the fact that the players were rich and amoral is like calling politicians low-life, lying scum. I mean who doesn't know that?

The story is told well, almost too breezy at times to even be a 'beach read.' But Molly Bloom and her editor know how to keep the story moving and still allow for a break to take a dip in the pool or the poolside bar.

My problems with the story center on the poker. How and when the choices were made to explain or not a specific poker term seems arbitrary. Certainly, the main storyline was about the players and not the game, but when action at the table was described it often showed a lack of poker knowledge. Just a bit of research or using a poker savvy editor would have easily caught a couple of glaring errors. For example, no poker player 'folds the nuts' because he was talked out of his hand by another player. 'The nuts' refers to the best hand possible, a hand that can't be beat.

All in all, an interesting read if you don't break out in a PC-inspired rash when rich, careless people are the subjects of the story. Poker players will have to hold their tongues over some lazy descriptions of the game but otherwise I give Molly's Game a just slightly less than tumid thumbs up.

Molly's Game is available in all formats (hard, soft, audio, kindle) from Amazon.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

If I have a choice

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Believe in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy [probably one of his speechwriters, sounds like Ted Sorensen.]

Blatant public lying doesn't trouble me so much. All the politicians in all the legislatures can mumble that nonsense all day long, the majority of the people just ain't that stupid. Same goes for Fox News, anyone who believes them was already a lost cause to the unthinking sinkhole of the unused mind. Lying just isn't the problem. Myth is.

The "militant muslims" believe bizarre doctrines, you can't find those in the Koran nor in the hearts of most Muslims. No, what scares me each and every day are the fanatics of all stripes who trot out truly ludicrous beliefs that have zero basis in the reality we all inhabit. In this country the great myth is Christianity. Followed closely by American Exceptionalism and practically anything a male-dominated legislature or court agrees to about those who lack privilege, power or share their gender.

Give me a good, solid bout of prevarication anytime, that I can sort out. But the unflagging, unfailing, ruthless dedication to mythology, well that's just right up there with insanity and ignorance. Believe what you will, just don't spew it on the rest of us. We've got enough to do trying just to figure out what's right here in front of us. We really don't need to 'extra ingredients added' from your fuzzy take on life, the world and everything.

To each his or her own, I say. Join up with your fellow followers but don't try to rope me into your parade. Those idols of yours give me chills in all the wrong places.

Yes, regular readers -- 'tis time for some time away. Will leave some mental breadcrumbs for you, whilst I wander.