Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids
How a Gang of Geeks Beat the Odds and Stormed Las Vegas
By David Kushner
Random House Trade, Paperback, 9780812974386, 223pp.
Publication Date: August 29, 2006
List Price: $12.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.
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If you think a gang of real-life geeks can’t take on the world and win big . . . think again. And whatever you do, don’t sit down across a gaming table from Jon Finkel, better known as Jonny Magic. Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids is his amazing true story: the jaw-dropping, zero-to-hero chronicle of a fat, friendless boy from New Jersey who found his edge in a game of cards–and turned it into a fortune.
The ultimate bully-magnet, Finkel grew up heckled and hazed until destiny came in the form of a trading-card game called Magic: The Gathering. Magic exploded from nerdy obsession to mainstream mania and made the teenage Finkel an ultracool world champion.
Once transformed, this young shark stormed poker rooms from the underground clubs of New York City to the high-stakes tables online, until he landed on the largest card-counting blackjack team in the country. Taking Vegas for millions, Finkel’s squad of brainy gamers became the biggest players in town. Then they took on the town’s biggest game, the World Series of Poker, and walked away with more than $3.5 million.
Thrilling, edgy, and ferociously feel-good, the odyssey of these underdogs-turned-overlords is the stuff of pop-culture legend. And David Kushner, acclaimed author of Masters of Doom, masterfully deals out the outrageous details while bringing to life a cast of characters rife with aces, kings, knaves . . . and more than a few jokers. If you secretly believe every player has his day, you’re right. Here’s the proof.
Praise for Masters of Doom
“Terrifically told . . . The storytelling is so fluid, so addictive, that your twitching thumbs keep working the pages.”
–The Washington Post Book World
“Kushner’s mesmerizing tale of the Two Johns moves at a rapid clip . . . describing the twists and turns of fate that led them to team up in creating the most powerful video games of their generation. . . . An exciting combination of biography and technology.”
“Meticulously researched . . . As a ticktock of the creative process and as insight into a powerful medium too often dismissed as kids’ stuff, Masters of Doom blasts its way to a high score.”
“[An] extraordinary journey . . . an exhilarating time capsule of a moment in time where anything could happen–and often did. Kushner’s take on this geek uprising is like a breakneck-paced comic book that you can’t put down.”
“Kushner’s portrait of Carmack is lustrous and gripping. . . . An impressive and adroit social history.”
–The New York Times Book Review