The author of the Maggie Hope Mystery series
writes about KBO, cocktails, code-breaking, and red lipstick.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Turnaround Is Fair Play

So, those of you playing at home may know that I'm also an editor. One of my clients is Josh Axelrad, whose memoir on card counting, Repeat Until Rich, will be published by Penguin in March 2010. His British publisher's calling it: "Fight Club meets Bringing Down the House."

Here's a description from

A deliciously wry, edge-of-the-seat memoir of making a fortune with card counters across a wide swath of blackjack in America.

At twenty-four, Josh Axelrad held down a respectable and ominously dull job on Wall Street. Adventure was a tuna fish sandwich instead of the usual turkey for lunch. Then one night, a stranger at a cocktail party persuaded him to leave the nine-to-five behind and pursue an unlikely dream: the jackpot. The stranger was a blackjack card counter, and he sold Axelrad on the vision of Vegas with all its intrigue, adventure- and cash.

Repeat Until Rich is Axelrad's taut, atmospheric, and darkly hilarious account of ditching the mundane and entering the alternative universe of professional blackjack. Axelrad has one thing in common with his team: Jon Roth, the leader and a former white-shoe attorney; Neal Matcha, also a recovering lawyer; Aldous Kaufman, a retired math Ph.D. candidate. They all thrived in the straight world, found success boring, and vowed to make life more exotic. Axelrad adopts Kaufman's philosophy-"repeat until rich"-and from his strategy and skill spring hasty retreats across casino floors, gun-toting henchmen, high-speed car chases, "wrongful" arrests, and six-figure paydays that make it all worthwhile.

Along the way, he unveils the tactics and debunks the myths of professional card counters. In team play, he's either the "big player," who bets the big money, or the "controller," who subtly coordinates the team's betting while wagering only the minimum himself. Counting is not illegal, and it's less intellectually daunting than its MIT-level mystique suggests. With clarity and wit, Repeat Until Rich proves the old gambler's maxim that "if you can tip a waiter, you can count cards." But it also proves how zealous, even forceful, casino bosses can be in "backing off" counters-seeing past their undercover methods and banning them from the tables. Josh soon grows to love all this trouble, which provides a rush he starts to need more than the money and yearns for when he's away from the tables.

Filled with actual bad guys, chase scenes, and high stakes, Repeat Until Rich offers an intoxicating, unprecedented view of the dangerous allure of living off the cards and one's wits.

About the Author

Josh Axelrad played blackjack professionally for five years and poker unprofessionally for one. A graduate of Columbia College, he languished briefly in investment banking before he turned to cards. His personal win as a card counter, at $700,000, has left him eighty-sixed from the finest casinos in Vegas and around the United States. His subsequent losses at poker (exceeding $50,000) have cost him credit privileges at the Internet's most reputable poker rooms. A commentator on the casino industry for National Public Radio'sMarketplace program, Axelrad also performs at Stories at the Moth in New York and has been featured on the award-winning Moth Podcast.

Now his manuscript is turned in and, for all intents and purposes, finished. Mine... not so much. I had a deadline last week, and my final, final deadline is December 15.

When I asked if he'd take a look at my manuscript, he seemed pleased. Maybe too pleased.


No comments:

Post a Comment