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From Poker Amateur To World Series Competitor In 'The Noble Hustle'

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

When the World Series of Poker began in 1970, it was a pretty modest affair — seven veterans of the game competing for just the honor, no prize money. Today, more than 6,000 players pay the $10,000 entrance fee for the No-Limit Texas Hold 'em Tournament. ESPN televises the final table, and last year the winner took home more than $8 million in prize money.

Novelist Colson Whitehead was a decent amateur card player when Grantland made him an offer: They'd pay his $10,000 entrance fee if he'd spend a few weeks training, then enter the World Series of Poker and write about it for them. The result is Whitehead's new book, The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death, a sharp observational tale of the game, those who play it and how his experience in the big show changed him.

Whitehead is a past recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. His other books include Sag Harbor and Zone One. Click the audio link above to listen to Whitehead's interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Source: NPR

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"If you want to understand a political conflict, it helps to understand the culture in which that conflict is taking place," says host Terry Gross. Fresh Air is one of the most popular programs on public radio, breaking the "talk show" mold, and Gross is known for her fearless and insightful interviews with prominent figures in American arts, politics, and popular culture. "When there is a crisis in a foreign country, we sometimes call up that country's leading novelist or filmmaker to get the cultural perspective." Fresh Air features daily reports and reviews from critics and commentators on music, books, movies, and other cultural phenomena that invade the national psyche.

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