Before people played online poker for money, before poker tournaments drew big audiences, and before poker players were national celebrities, there were the Tiltboys. The Tiltboys were a notoriousNick Christenson is widely regarded as one of the best gambling book reviewers publishing today. He is a contributor for Poker Player magazine, and has published in Full-Tilt and Gambling Times. He is also the editor of the very funny 'Casino Death Watch,' which chronicles the comings and goings of casinos in Las Vegas. He is an avid poker and blackjack player. Nick's website is www.jetcafe.org/~npc/ group comprised of folks who played poker together in a weekly home game in and around San Jose, California. Their membership was comprised mostly of people who were Silicon Valley geeks by day and degenerate gamblers by night, or any day they weren't working, and many days where they were. Many of their exploits were posted to Internet in the late 90s, and recently some of their stories have been gathered together in Tales from the Tiltboys.
On the one hand, many poker aficionados will view this book as nothing more than the brash, juvenile antics of a few young gamblers who, as the Texans might say, are "all hat and no cattle". On the other hand, there are some truly bright folks in this crowd, several of whom have gone on to make real names for themselves in the poker world. Moreover, I believe it's fair to say that some of what they've done is laugh-out-loud funny, and they have a knack for inventing their own fun with an infectious and adventurous spirit. Some folks will find them entertaining, some annoying, and many will admit them as hall-of-fame members of both categories.
The most famous of the Tiltboys is Phil Gordon, winner of a World Poker Tour event and commentator on Bravo's successful television show, Celebrity Poker Showdown. It's amusing to read the stories that show him as the victim (as well as perpetrator) of Tiltboy pranks considering that he is viewed in many quarters as a poker celebrity. I guarantee that after reading about his (and other Tiltboys') appearance at a ladies only poker tournament you won't think of him the same way again. Tiltboys are also behind the popular online poker site called, naturally enough, Full Tilt Poker.
The humor in Tales from the Tiltboys can be compared to several of the sophomoric yet funny movie comedies that have appeared over the last several years. Sure, most of the jokes in Something About Mary and American Pie are low-brow, but at the same time they're infused with enough creativity and inspiration that even more sophisticated audience members can find them funny. We might not want to admit to reading some of these stories, but when nobody's looking we're cackling with glee nonetheless.
The Tiltboys are an exclusive club with their own rules, priorities, and language. There's no doubt that the audience are merely spectators at the events that comprise their so-called lives. Unfortunately, I think that sometimes Scheinberg carries the exclusive atmosphere a bit too far. As someone who probably knows these people and their events quite a bit better than the average reader of this book, I still found parts of the narrative confusing and hard to follow. Many times the in-jokes provide added flavor, but sometimes they just lead to confusion.
Should one go out and buy this book? Well, maybe. Here's my recommendation. Go to their web site, www.tiltboys.com and read a couple of their trip reports. If you found these stories funny, then by all means go out and buy this book. If you found the trip reports not so entertaining, then feel free to pass. I find them to be amusing in small doses, and there are some parts of the book where I freely admit to making me laugh out loud. So I liked it, but not everyone will.
ReadyBetGo! is an independent gambling news and information service. If you plan to play in casinos, ensure
that you are not breaking any local laws. It's up to you to know the legality of your actions when you gamble.