Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Thieves In The Temple

I picked up a couple of cheap books in HMV yesterday ; (how's that semi-colon Pete ?) the rack full of poker/casino/gambling type books may tell us that the bubble is yet to burst. Amarillo Slim's book I quite enjoyed, although when he tells you what a straight-up guy he is you should always remember what happened at the first Heads-Up tournament in Paris. Ron Rose moved all his chips in, Slim said "let's go", Rose showed a pair of Kings and Slim said "let's go on to the next hand". Classy.

The book I wanted to talk about though is "The Great Casino Heist" by Richard Marcus. The style and tone is very similar to Mezrich's card-counting book - travelling round all the casinos, trying to avoid the heat, escaping the back rooms, getting away with the money. But there's one very important difference. Card-counters, to my mind, aren't doing anything wrong. It may be technically illegal to use mechanical counters in your shoe and so on (I can't remember if Mezrich's team did that or not), but basically they were using open information to beat the game. Marcus' gang were no better than common thieves. On top of their "past-posting" methods (swapping in a bigger chip after a bet has won) they thought nothing of taking chips from other players. At no point in the book (I haven't finished it, I may not) does the main protagonist even ask himself about the morality of what he's doing. There's no justification in terms of the ethics of casinos themselves - nothing. They just do it. It's all rather depressing.

Just as I was about to give up though there was one moment of humour, albeit probably unintentional. While trying their luck in London, Marcus notes that "for some reason [London casino people] held American gamblers either in contempt or with outright distrust". It may be that they shouldn't do that, but frankly I think it's a bit much complaining about it when you yourself are a thieving cunt. Stealing isn't cool.


Anonymous Peter B said...

I've just taken delivery of another £75-worth of poker books. The trouble is, you have to read them just to keep up with what might be going through other people's minds. The second Harrington, the Harker/Fox book on NL (very impressive so far), the Greenstein coffee table book (as yet unopened and not on the coffee table), the Andy Beal book (which I WILL find interesting) and the Stu Ungar Book (ditto), plus Matt Matros' effort and Larry Phillips' Zen & The Art of Poker.

I had no sympathy for Ron Rose. He fell for a mug's angle-shoot. A guy could be my best friend; but until I hear the magic words "I call" (and even then I might ask for confirmation that I heard correctly!), or I see the chips pushed over the line, I'm not flipping my cards over. Not classy on Slim's part, but not clever on Rose's, either.


8:43 AM  
Anonymous Jon Shoreman said...

"first Heads-Up tournament in Paris"

It was Vienna, not Paris.

12:14 PM  

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