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The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death | [Colson Whitehead]

The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death

“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.
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Publisher's Summary

“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.

©2014 Colson Whitehead (P)2014 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Whitehead serves up an engrossing mix of casual yet astute reportage and hang-dog philosophizing, showing us that, for all of poker’s intricate calculations and shrewd stratagems, everything still hangs on the turn of a card."" (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.1 (43 )
5 star
 (9)
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
3.1 (37 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.1 (36 )
5 star
 (11)
4 star
 (5)
3 star
 (6)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (11)
Performance
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  •  
    Michelle Glen Burnie, md, United States 05-15-14
    Michelle Glen Burnie, md, United States 05-15-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I don't like to pan books, but this is awful"

    I have listened to hundreds of books. This is the worst narration I have encountered. I had trouble believing the author was the reader. I'm not sure what he was going for but, yikes, he has the strangest cadence. Beyond that, I thought I was going to listen to a story about one fellows adventure in the WSOP. Frankly, most of the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. To say he was divergent is an understatement, Cards on the table, I am about 4 hours into this book (which is most of the way) but I am not going to finish it. Maybe he is edgy and I am just old but, nah, I do not get it. I just wanted to hear the story of his experience in the tourney. I did not get that.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill at Torg Stories Indiana native in New England 10-22-14
    Bill at Torg Stories Indiana native in New England 10-22-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Sad Funny Book Teaches You About Cards, Ping!"

    The Slate Culture Gabfest podcast pointed me Whitehead's way alluding to an essay he wrote about New York. Whitehead tells us he's bummed out, (with examples) and I believe him. He's a funny guy, and I liked hearing about his ambitious prep to play in a World Series of Poker Event. When you go on a journey like that, you make some unexpected buds. He does and I really like "Coach." Whitehead especially wins me over with his references to "the kid." He also comes up with an innovative structure (cheating?) to get a book's worth of material out his adventure. I came around to liking his reading of his own work. I recommend!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Bergman 09-02-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting story, awful audiobook."
    What would have made The Noble Hustle better?

    A different narrator. His disinterested tone just had me questioning every single moment I was listening to this book...if he cared so little about the story he wrote as he read it, why should I care too??

    Horrible, horrible audiobook.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Colson Whitehead again?

    Absolutely not. I have never had such a strong reaction to not liking someone based on their voice and written attitude.

    Ahedonian?? Really?! Ridiculous.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The author could seem to care a bit more about his writing and the affect he is having on people trying to "read" his words.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I think this may genuinely have been an interesting poker book if I read the words - every once in a while I would "read back" a sentence in my head with different inflections to see if it would have changed my perception of the book...and I really think it would have. If excitement had come across as excitement, sadness as sadness and so on, then it may have been worth reading.


    Any additional comments?

    There are better poker books out there that are better read. This one is worth a skip. And don't worry - the author makes a point of not caring about anything anyway, so you don't have to worry about hurting his feelings.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Longmont, CO, United States 07-28-14
    Eric Longmont, CO, United States 07-28-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Way too esoteric and not very entertaining"
    What disappointed you about The Noble Hustle?

    It was written with constant reference and analogy that I don't think the average listener could relate to and didn't seem to have an organized direction. Much like putting a hard copy book down, I had to stop listening because I couldn't enjoy how it was written and subsequently narrated.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Colson Whitehead again?

    If this book is any indication, most likely not.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Plain English with an organized flow and less, or no, vague analogies.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Noble Hustle?

    Hard to say since I gave up on it less than an hour into it.


    Any additional comments?

    If I could get credit for it, I would delete it from my library which I may do, anyway.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra B 06-05-14
    Debra B 06-05-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Colson Whitehead, note-taker of our culture"

    First a word about the narration. Definitely listen to the preview first, because Whitehead has a distinctive way of talking, and it might not be for you. When I first listened to him, I thought it might not be for me, either, but, funny thing, his voice grew on me, and I started to like it. I've read two other books by Whitehead, and I liked them both for the deft way he mixes cultural observations with his stories, and his fresh, clear writing. He is wry, but not overbearing about it - at least that's how it comes across to me. I really liked Zone One. For me, all his books (including The Noble Hustle) come down to one thing - Our Culture. It's worth reading The Noble Hustle just to hear him explain the different hands in poker. A pair of queens (I think it was) would be like a pair of SUV's in your neighbor's driveway, whereas your hand with only one queen is like having only one SUV in your driveway. The person with the better stuff wins. He talks a lot about his anhedonia, his feeling of being dead inside, but he has such a lock on humor and observations that he manages to be good company. It's like sitting down him next to him at casino bar, and staying longer than you'd thought, just to hear him talk.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shep 05-04-15
    Shep 05-04-15

    No Hazmats

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    "Not Beowulf"

    I would much prefer to write a positive review, but I've very little....
    to sayhhhh

    Because this is howww,
    The book is read hhhh.
    Dear readerhhhh.

    It doesn't seem to be
    Written in open verse,,,,
    But that is how,,,,
    It's read.

    It gets oldhhhh
    to hear each phrase kind of,,,,
    tail off,,,,,,
    into a kind of nothingness,,,,,
    It's depressing - sigh - - - - - -

    But that is how the book is , , , ,
    all the way through....

    Written in prose, , , , ,
    but read as. h h h h h
    Open
    Verse.

    And literally his voice, , , ,
    just tapers to a poor sad sigh h h h h
    at the the end , , , , ,
    of each little phrase...
    Losing tone and volume....

    Please Colson....
    Get some Zoloft, , , ,
    Before you read,h h h h h
    your next {sigh},
    Book.

    I forgot,,,,
    part way through h h h h h h
    what it was , , , ,
    About.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gudrun Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada 02-07-15
    Gudrun Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada 02-07-15 Member Since 2011

    I'm open to any book as long as it is true to itself.

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    "I would have liked more detail"

    Very easy to listen to, but I thought that it would have gone into more detail. I liked his perspective, which made me give this book four stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Lewis Irvington, NY 05-31-14
    Paul Lewis Irvington, NY 05-31-14 Member Since 2014
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    "If You're "Into Poker", Skip This Book"
    Would you try another book from Colson Whitehead and/or Colson Whitehead?

    Doubtful.


    What could Colson Whitehead have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Nothing and everything. I'm an experienced poker player who has never played in the WSOP - and found this book boring. Whitehead doesn't break any new ground at all -- McManus's Positively Fifth Street is a far superior description of what it's like for an amateur to play in the Main Event.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes.


    Did The Noble Hustle inspire you to do anything?

    No.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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