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Johnny Magic and the Card Shark Kids
Sept. 8, 2005
Review by Pojo

There's a new Magic the Gathering Book on the Streets.  Well ... it's somewhat about Magic the Gathering:

Johnny Magic and the Card Shark Kids
by David Kushner
"How a Gang of Geeks Beat the Odds and Stormed Las Vegas"

Not sure how much you consider yourself a "geek".  But I guess that's how others & the author perceive Magic the Gathering players.  From Dictionary.com: geek:

- A person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy.
- A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.
- A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken

The books is mainly about Jon Finkel.  (I was not aware that Jon was a carnival performer before he became World Champ in 2000. Hey, we all gotta eat I guess.)  Moving On ... the book is about how Magic the Gathering Players dominated the World Series of Poker in 2004.

The Chapters are titled:

  1. Dawn of the Dork

  2. Geek Poker

  3. The Magic Bullet

  4. Jersey Kids vs. Dead Guys

  5. Finkeltron

  6. Rounders

  7. Johnny Magic

  8. The Card Shark Kids

  9. Send in the the Clowns

  10. All-In

  11. The Final Table

  12. The Only Game in Town

The Appendices describe how to play Magic, Blackjack & Poker

The early chapters of the book start off describing Jon as a nerdy kid who got a 1550 on his SAT's, and went on to become one of best and most recognizable Magic the Gathering Players.  The book goes into the backrooms of Magic where players do some "Money-Drafting" events, where guys ante up $50 each and go at each other with 3 on 3 teams. 

Chapter 6 leads us into Jon Finkel learning how to play Poker, and playing in Clubs, but also discusses the Magic U.S. Championships on ESPN.

In Chapter 7, Jon learns the business of Card Counting and heads to Vegas. He teamed up with some lawyers and they took in 1/2 million in 2 weeks.  Niceness!

Chapter 8 -  There's a funny story about Blackjack & card counting where Jon pays some lady $50 to leave the table, as she played like crap, and was taking his good cards. He was playing $1000 hands and she was getting all the blackjacks.  The Chapter also introduces us to Dave Williams.

Chapter 9 starts off discussing Jon playing Kai Budde at the Pro Tour in Chicago in the semifinals.  (Pojo Note: I was there with Scott & Chris Gerhardt that weekend.  It was as cold as a witch's tit that weekend).  It continues with Jon ditching the lawyers and starting up his own team of Blackjack Card Counters.

Chapter 10 discusses the popularity of the World Series of Poker on TV, and how the MTG gang tried to earn seats in the 2004 World Series of Poker

Chapter 11 discusses more on the 2004 World Series of Poker and how the team did.  I'm guessing most you guys know this story already if you play both MTG and Poker. 

Chapter 12 talks about what the guys did after the World Series, buying Rolex's and stuff like that. 

All in all.  This is a fun book to read.  It's hardcover and a little over 200 pages.  It's a light and easy read.  Not quite as funny as our friend Jamie Wakefield's banterings, but a good read indeed.  This Book will run you about $16.50 at Amazon.com.  I'd say it's worth 5 packs of Magic Cards.  ;-)


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