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Ship It Holla Ballas!: How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used… (edition 2013)

by Jonathan Grotenstein, Storms Reback

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Member:muddyboy
Title:Ship It Holla Ballas!: How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker's Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crew
Authors:Jonathan Grotenstein
Other authors:Storms Reback
Info:St. Martin's Press (2013), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Ship It Holla Ballas!: How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker's Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crew by Jonathan Grotenstein

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Luck delivered this paperback into my hands when I won a giveaway on Twitter; it was not one I normally would have pulled off the shelf. It's a book you can read with virtually no poker knowledge at all, just substituting "extreme good luck" and "extreme bad luck" at appropriate points. Mainly I kept with the reading as a sort of reference to a set of characters I know I wouldn't meet in person if I were given a thousand years, because the kinds of things that motivate them never matched those that I followed. I found it instructive as a student of human nature to take a look at people who drive themselves so single-mindedly adopting means and chasing a goal that none of the rest of us would select. Still, I completely understand the fascination that follows the prodigal, even in this case where none of the ballas ends up being smacked down by the life he's chosen as dramatic irony would have it.By the end I was able to start telling the different handles apart and keep straight the level of degeneracy associated with each, which helped it become a more palatable narrative. ( )
  rmagahiz | Dec 21, 2013 |
As usual I received this book from GoodReads as part of a giveaway. Also as usual, despite the very kind and generous consideration of getting a free book, I give my candid opinions below.

The subtitle really sums it up pretty nicely. A group of kids from different parts of the country get hooked on online poker, do nothing but play all day for years and make a ton of money doing it. They live decadent lifestyles, learn some key life lessons (or don't) and finally end up happy (or not). Think bildungsroman with computers, gambling and lots of illegal mind-altering substances.

The writing in this little bit of non-fiction is merely sufficient; it's readable and can be consumed in a handful of determined hours. There's nothing particularly gripping about the whole thing except the anticipation of some explosive failure on the part of our protagonists as you either cheer for their success or their comeuppance. The book provides us with a view of a subculture we'd normally not get to see and paints an intimate enough portrait to keep the reader engaged.

I will spare my own reader the rather obvious and easily anticipated rant that I could go into about children gambling illegally and engaging in all manner of idiotic behavior, though as an adult it's hard not to have one's mind wander there. There is quite a bit of anthropological value to be found in these pages to be sure but it sets a rather poor example.

Pondering to whom I could recommend this book, I do have some difficulty finding a target for it. Most adults will doubtless be rather put off by the various irresponsible shenanigans demonstrated and I would be terrified for any teenager who reads it for fear that they will view this as an example to be emulated. The book lacks any of the technical detail that would make it interesting to either the mathematically inclined or the gambling addict. It can be assumed, at least, that those who were caught up in the now defunct gambling craze of the mid-2000s might be interested.

In summary, the book is a well-constructed view of society gone amok. It has, I suspect, a fairly narrow range of appeal and should be kept out of the hands of impressionable children. There is some very small bit of moral to our story but it fades rather quietly behind the glitz of $200 bottles of liquor and generally decadent lifestyle choices. ( )
  slavenrm | Mar 8, 2013 |
If I was someone with a bigger interest in gambling I would have given this book five stars. The story is the fascinating chronicle of a group of under twenties who strike it rich in the world of internet poker. It is told from the point of view of several young men who become wealthy and even somewhat famous for their gambling acumen before these sites were banned in the United States. For me the main interest is how money affects these guys on a personal level. Many are still active in the Las Vegas gambling world today. If I was rich and 19 again I would probably have reacted much in the same way they did. The book is a study of the invincibility of youth or a least that perception that young people have about their lives. Great read!. ( )
  muddyboy | Nov 23, 2012 |
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Traces the rise of the world's most competitive online poker players, profiling a group of former college students who banded together through online communication networks to organize a multi-million-dollar winning team in Las Vegas.

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