Hats and Eyeglasses: A Family Love Affair with Gambling

Martha Frankel, Author
Martha Frankel, Author . Tarcher $19.95 (226p) ISBN 978-1-58542-558-7
Reviewed on: 11/12/2007
Release date: 02/01/2008
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A soft-pedaling memoir by journalist Frankel fondly recalls growing up in the Bronx and Queens, N.Y., learning to play poker from her dad and uncles, which would later become her obsession. As a kid Frankel absorbed the numbers-canny ways of her relatives, who doled out gambling advice such as the reference in the title to a ship’s sinking, leaving only hats and eyeglasses floating on the surface. With the death of her beloved father, known as the Pencil because he was a CPA, Frankel’s big dreams deflated and she largely drifted through school, a first marriage and drug use, before meeting woodworker Steve. She moved to Woodstock, N.Y., and, through friends, began writing celebrity interviews for magazines like Details . An idea for writing a screenplay about a poker player brought her into close contact with her ex-con cousin Keith, who had taught her how to play. From regular Wednesday night poker games with her friend Sal’s group of hard-pickled males, where she learned how not to play “like a girl,” to an all-poker cruise to casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., and L.A., she gravitated to playing online, which enthralled her—and emptied her bank account. As she explains in this frank and unaffected memoir, shame brought her back to her family and closer to her mother. (Feb.)

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