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Ship It Holla Ballas!: How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker's Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crewby Jonathan Grotenstein
Synopses & Reviews
To be a teenager in 2006 meant having grown up with the Internet. The dot-com bubble had come and gone, leaving in its wake a still maturing medium whose immense powers were not yet fully understood. It wasn't long before smart, resourceful young men used it to master the game of poker. They took advantage of online pokers lightning-fast pace and lackluster efforts at age verification to gain, in just a few months, the kind of experience that used to take a lifetime.
Ship It Holla Ballas! is the story of the top crew to come out of this new world order. With handles like Good2cu, Apathy, and Raptor, they communicated through message boards and online chats, comparing hands, trading tips, developing previously unknown skills. They soon crushed the competition. Emerging from their dorm rooms and basements in places like Fort Worth, Texas, Okema, Michigan, and Toronto, Canada, they joined up in Vegas and parked themselves in a mansion, making millions by sticking it to the poker establishment. Along the way, they did what any red-blooded teenage boy with piles of cash and no responsibility would do: They partied like rock stars, transforming themselves from nerds with zero life skills into legends. Eventually, however, all parties end.
"The popularity of poker, and online forums to talk about it, led to 'the most successful poker crew of all time,' write Grotenstein and Reback (All In: The (Almost) Entirely True History of the World Series of Poker). The members of the Ship It Holla Ballas met on TwoPlusTwo.com, a site for a publisher of poker books that became a place for players to discuss strategy and swap tips. This group of numbers-savvy, computer-bound young men soon meet in the real world, proceeding to dive right into a work-hard, party-harder, 24/7 lifestyle that two key members, Good2cu and Raptor, tackled with varying degrees of success. Good2cu becomes overly concerned with celebrity; Raptor, despite millions in the bank, is dissatisfied with his life. Grotenstein and Reback do a fine job detailing the debauchery of these lost boys, but without a decent narrative arc and glancing over ripe side stories — the decline of online poker; the rise of the anyone-can-play poker champ — the book feels like a collection of ribald stories featuring sex, giant bets, and youthful stupidity. Everything blurs together after a while. Breezy and readable, for sure, but lacking substance." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Who were the Ship It Holla Ballas?
Arguably the most successful poker crew of all time, they took advantage of the online poker boom to win tens of millions of dollars before most of them were old enough to set foot inside a casino. Then they did what any red-blooded teenagers with mountains of cash and no responsibilities would do: They partied like rock stars, transforming themselves from Internet nerds with zero life skills into legends, at least in their own minds.
Ship It Holla Ballas! traces the rise and fall of Internet poker through the eyes of its most unlikely stars: A group of teenage college dropouts, united by social media, who bluffed their way to the top of the game.
About the Author
JONATHAN GROTENSTEIN is a former professional poker player and the author or co-author of eight books. His first book, Poker: The Real Deal (with Phil Gordon), remains one of the bestselling poker books of all-time.
STORMS REBACK is a former professional poker player and the co-author of two books, including All In: The (Almost) Entirely True Story of the World Series of Poker (with Jonathan Grotenstein).
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