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  • The Only Way to Play It

  • A Novel
  • By: Peter Alson
  • Narrated by: Neill Thorne
  • Length: 6 hrs and 1 min
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

Nate Fischer is grinding out a living in New York’s underground poker clubs. As an artist, he’s always depended upon unconventional side hustles to support his precarious existence. 

A decade ago, as a young painter, poker seemed like the perfect way to pay the bills. But marriage and parenthood have definitely complicated things. Especially lately, when Nate’s hit a cold streak in more ways than one. His once-promising art career is in freefall. His wife may be having an affair with a dashing book editor. And his ex-con father’s problems are becoming his own. On any given night, a bad beat could mean the collapse of his house-of-cards life.

Just as it looks like he’s about to turn it all around, one of his buddies is shot and killed right in front of him, and the cops padlock every poker club in the city. For Nate’s wife, this is the last straw. Forced to move out, into his tiny painting studio, Nate confronts the true cost of his choices. Making matters worse, his deadbeat dad is evicted from his apartment, and Nate finds himself taking in the one guy who knows exactly where this kind of story ends – and the one least likely to help him figure a way out. 

Nate’s search for salvation takes him from the shady Russian enclaves of Brighton Beach to the exclusive art auctions of elite Manhattan galleries. In the end, though, it is his father, revealing a side of himself that Nate has never seen, from whom he learns what it means to put everything on the line in the interest of love and loyalty.

©2020 Peter Alson (P)2020 Peter Alson

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-02-21

A tightly built story about a common life on the edge

I really enjoyed how human and relatable the characters and narrator were in this quick moving story. Peter Alson makes balance and genuineness a virtue again.

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  • Steven P. Lansky
  • 04-11-20

Peter is a friend so I'm biased, still it's Great!

Nate Fischer, an everyman gambler, and slightly unusual NY Artist with a low-life, ex-con father, has a lovely wife, Laura and daughter, Hannah who is in grade school. Nate, knowing the risks, and discovering himself, plays the under-the-radar poker rooms in NYC in the Obama era. He's pretty good at poker, and has had a bit of unsavory luck selling his creative oversize oils at a gallery run by Richard. The scenario is reasonable, and line to line the novel carries an amazing energy you won't find lacking. Each chapter concludes with a cliff-hanger quality, as if to say, wait to see, and wait again. This tension subsides a bit, here and there, but, it's not a dour listen. The more I got to care for the characters, and became emotionally invested in the relationships, my heart-strings were tugged when the overall arc developed in some unpredictable directions. Leo, Nate's dad, and the real understanding of adult children forging on with fears of repeating or revealing their own flaws to one another gave the story appeal to those of our generation. I imagine younger and older listeners enjoying the book to expand their understanding of a dad, uncle, brother, sister, daughter, grandson or son.

While the actor reading is good, when he voices characters there are moments that come across a little cliché. I like the book, and give it real support. I listened at home, but i think it would be a good way to enjoy a travel experience, whether by train, plane, bus, or automobile. The poker is high stakes for amateur gamblers, and keeps closely to the Texas Hold Em culture that media portrays in film, TV, and journals.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-09-20

The Poker/Relationship Book We’ve All Been Waiting For

Incredibly well written. Those of who have been in the “push and pull” of the relationship between our romantic partners and our love or poker and “addiction to winning”, as Alson so perfectly describes, understand that we are always conflicted. We identify ourselves in many ways by the winning, and absolutely NEED the loving relationships of wives, girlfriends, children. Alson perfectly encapsulates and describes what so many partners feel like when in a relationship with a poker and player and their “other Alson’s story is so real and engrossing. It’s edge-on-your seat stuff that makes you sweat and keeps your heart beating throughout. Bravo!