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Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers

3.16  ·  Rating Details ·  217 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
“The intricacies of family and the complexities of the games they play mingle wonderfully here in a memoir quite unlike any other.â€â€”George Plimpton, author of Truman Capote

Katy Lederer grew up on the bucolic campus of an exclusive East Coast boarding school where her father taught English, her mother retreated into crosswords and scotch, and her much older siblings pl
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published August 12th 2003 by Crown (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jason Koivu
These are the books that get written and read just after a wave has crested. In this case, that wave was the Texas Hold 'Em poker craze.

Everybody was doing it! It was 2004 and an absolute unknown player, Chris Moneymaker, had just won the most highly coveted World Series of Poker championship. This caused an incredible stir of interest in poker, almost a rebirth. It brought instant world-wide recognition to the game of Texas Hold 'Em, a variant on the five card stud standard known and played by
Feb 10, 2011 Russell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book years ago, thought it sucked and put it down. Then recently I saw it sitting there taunting me and decided to try again. God only knows why I would do that to myself.

Pretend that you're reading a Ben Mezrich book. It's all about smart young people, doing shady shit and getting rich. Only, instead of Mezrich gleefully guiding you through a sordid life of excess, Lederer is appalled by the things around her (even her own participation in the shadiness) and desperately wants you
I read the whole book, which is something. Some of the writing was beautiful and poetic (I was not surprised to learn that the author is also a poet), but many of the scenes and chapters felt disjointed and out of place. I often felt like the author lost her train of thought and forgot why she was including certain scenes. Overall, the story wasn't as riveting or interesting as I hoped it would be.
Guy Choate
Aug 17, 2014 Guy Choate rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
I bought this book years ago, when still followed professional poker enough to know who they were. I knew who Lederer's siblings were from TV. This book feels like it's trying to be about them, but it's masked as a memoir about the author. She's using her siblings as a tool to build intrigue, but there's no payoff because we're always on the outside of what's actually being presented.
Feb 08, 2009 Paula rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Katy Lederer's trajectory in becoming a poet was perhaps more unusual than most, and it is that "growing up" that she tells the tale of in her memoir Poker Face. The story/bio has all the elements of a great read considering that her mother (a purported "genius")and older brother and sister all become professional gamblers, first in NY and subsequently in Las Vegas, that saddest and most glittery of American cities. Her father teaches for many years at an elite high school for the very rich in N ...more
Don Edgar
Jul 13, 2012 Don Edgar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had played poker against Katy a few times although I had never really spoken to her. She always seemed out-of-place (In a stylish New England finishing-school sort of way) in the various casinos which she frequented for a time. ... So when I saw the book, and figured out who she was, I pounced.

It turned out that my personal experiences were very closely aligned with hers ... same gambling venues ... same universities (in inverted order) ... same cities and so on.

I loved the book. She does a gr
The author, a poet and daughter of author Richard Lederer, tells of his quietly dysfunctional family: her neurotic father, alcoholic mother, and siblings who left home to become heavy hitter poker players in Vegas. Lederer writes well, with an engaging style that is polished yet simple.

But her memoir is overall too light, a mosaic of only slightly related anecdotes --- her mother trying out for “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,” housesitting for her brother, adjusting to a wealthy boarding school.
Tyler Jones
Sep 16, 2015 Tyler Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poker
The first half of the book focuses on the author's childhood. The youngest of three kids in a dysfunctional home, Lederer tries to recreate how such turbulent times had seemed to her as a very young and innocent girl. Somehow, to me, this part did not seem completely authentic. It is only when she gets into her twenties and follows her brother and sister to Las Vegas that her insights, to me, seem genuine and interesting. Lederer, while not a poker force like her siblings, does a great job in ex ...more
Ann Diab
Oct 17, 2011 Ann Diab rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am left mostly with this as an impression: " ... ". Some of the stories in the book were interesting. Many of them feel rushed and oddly inserted. Even though all of the depictions are expertly crafted, mostly you are left wondering why this story was told at all.
Odd timing that I picked up this book right around the time the Justice Department brought allegations against the book's impetus, Howard Lederer. I had been meaning to read it ever since it was published, which was only a couple of
Danny Raz
Apr 20, 2011 Danny Raz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobio
Thoroughly enjoyable memoir from the younger sister of poker stars Howard Lederer and Annie Duke. Howard Lederer's story--which started with hotly contested chess matches against his father, and ended with him being one of the most feared sports and poker gamblers in the world--fascinated me the most. Katy Lederer's struggle to find her place in an ultra-competitive family gave the book a satisfying arc. Interesting read, especially if you're into high-stakes gaming.
More of a memoir than a poker memoir (see her sister, Annie Duke's _How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker_ for a more focused poker memoir), this is a compelling look at a highly intelligent, but odd and dysfunctional family. It has some interesting ideas about what draws people to certain kinds of games and professions.
Sep 25, 2008 Joanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was interesting to me largely because of the author's views of her older brother and sister, professional poker players Howard Lederer and Annie Duke. I am familiar with her siblings' careers and so found this book interesting. Outside of that, it was kind of a generic memoir, and a little patchy.
David Long
Oct 29, 2009 David Long rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poet Katy Lederer re-counts a childhood and young adulthood growing up, literally in a House of Games. Youngest daughter of word maven Richard Lederer and kid sister to poker pros Howard Lederer and Annie Duke, she tells a compelling story of an unusually accomplished though frequently difficult and dysfunctional family.
Bibi Rose
Parts of this book were excellent, but I wanted to read more about the gambling. The really good stuff abut that was mostly dumped in via hurried dialogue.

For a family saga with a gambling theme I much prefer DOUBLE DOWN by the Barthelme brothers.
Mar 05, 2012 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poker, nonfiction
Sister to Howard (I hate to say it, but he's probably a crook) Lederer and Annie Duke, the semi-famous poker player; it's really a memoir of her life as a Lederer (Richard Lederer the word guy is their father). A really rewarding book by a talented writer (and probably not just for poker players).
Jun 22, 2009 Abby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Katy Lederer is known for being the sister of two top-notch poker players from a family with a penchant for gambling. She is also a published poet with an MFA from Iowa. I kept waiting to Lederer to explore why her family was so attracted, in fact compelled, to take risks, but she never does.
Feb 20, 2011 Luckngrace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Written by the younger sister of the famous Howard Lederer and Annie Duke, I enjoyed the inside look at the making of a poker star. I did feel, however, that big bro and sis probably didn't appreciate her portrayals or their lives and motivations. All in all, just okay.
It reads like a good first draft, but it lacks the polish of a finished book.
I know that any ending to a memoir is artificial, but the ending is important.
This book didn't end. It just . . . stopped.
Elizabeth Michael
I thought this book would prove more entertaining to someone who likes poker as much as I do, and it did have it's entertaining anecdotes and poker-playing strategies, but overall I discovered I like playing poker better than I like reading about it.
Mar 19, 2008 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thenakedtruth
Really disappointed in this book. The narrative was disjointed and I didn't feel that the author was being honest about herself or her family.
Sep 14, 2008 Alena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was an interesting biography. I was pleasantly surprised that it focused more on the lives of each of the family members instead of the actual game of poker.
Mar 26, 2014 Kim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dec 22, 2007 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A decent memoire about the Lederer family ... the author is sibling to professional poker players Howard Lederer and Annie Duke.
Better at the start than at the end. She writes well, but the stories petered off without really going anywhere or saying anything. Didn't really understand the ending … too bad.
Jan 12, 2016 V rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know nothing about poker, but enjoyed the book for the bird's-eye view into this dysfunctional family. A quick, good read.
Shareen Wornson
Apr 16, 2010 Shareen Wornson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Katy Lederer is the not so famous sister of famous gambling siblings Howard Lederer and Annie Duke. How she fits in to this family of gamblers and makes her own life. A very good memoir!
Apr 07, 2008 Jillian rated it liked it
I can relate.
It's a pretty average book. Had some interesting moments, but mostly I feel unsatisfied. The first half was far more interesting than the last. It's as if Katy struggled to finish it.
Sep 01, 2009 Mindi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting story and peek into the lives of professional gamblers. A nice quick read.
Ok book. Parts of it were boring but overall an interesting look into the life of a gambling family.
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Katherine (Katy) Lederer is an American author and poet, best known for the memoir Poker Face .

Lederer is the daughter of author Richard Lederer and the sister of well-known poker players Howard Lederer and Annie Duke.
More about Katy Lederer...

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