The Hand You're Dealt
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The Hand You're Dealt

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  106 ratings  ·  25 reviews
When Huck Porter's dad suddenly dies, it feels like nothing will ever make sense again. Huck's "best friend" thinks that Huck should just get over it, the girl he likes won't give him the time of day, and his mom now works all hours at a roadside diner to make ends meet. The only thing that still makes sense for Huck is the game his dad taught him, the game they spent hour...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published September 24th 2008)
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Huck Porter is a poker prodigy, having been groomed by his father from a young age (much to the chagrin of his mother). Every year the local church hosts an annual Texas Hold'em tournament and sends the winner to Las Vegas to play in a high stakes tournament. The standing agreement is that whatever money is won will be split between the winner and the struggling community. Huck's father has been the tournament champion for the last three years and it's only as his father is dying that a new tour...more
Let's start with the obvious: this is a coming of age novel where our hero overcomes monsters external and internal through poker. Volponi does a solid job of making poker sensible to those of us who don't know the game, but if you don't give two figs about cards, this will be a long read.

The external monster appears in the shape of a Snidely Whiplash-like math teacher, Mr. Abbott, who is also the local card sharp. Huck faces him and a cast of other players in a classic poker showdown.

While the...more
“The hand you’re dealt” is a coming of age story. Basically that means that the protagonist is becoming a young adult. The protagonist in this story is Huck Porter, his father suddenly dies and Huck feels as if nothing is going to go right again. Everything is going wrong in Huck’s life, his mother is working 24/7 and his best friend thinks Huck can get over this problem. The only thing that makes sense in Huck’s life right now is the game that he played with his father before called “Texas Hol...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

With the recent popularity of poker, especially Texas hold'em, Paul Volponi's book is sure to be a success. Usually Volponi focuses on sports, but his switch to poker as a theme in THE HAND YOU'RE DEALT will still satisfy his fans and most likely earn him some new ones.

Huck Porter has grown up surrounded by poker. His father was a local poker champion and taught Huck everything about the game. As he sat by his father's deathbed, at...more
Kelly Thielen
Paul Valponi's story of a young man out to get revenge against a despised math teacher who took away the one symbol of hope that he and his mother had while his dad struggled to stay alive in the hospital after suffering a stroke, is certainly one of the more clever stories I've ever read. Though it was somewhat predictable and other parts unbelievable, I liked the story and thought that kids, especially those who are poker enthusiasts would also enjoy it.

Booktalk Notes:

Huck Porter's dad was the...more
Liza Wiemer
Volponi is the king of YA urban fiction! This is a gripping, eye-opening book that depicts the abuse of power that some teachers use against their students - Sadly, bullies are teachers too. It's a subject that is rarely discussed and I appreciate Volponi presenting a direct hit. Tenure insulates many horrible teachers from getting fired.
THE HAND YOU'RE DEALT is about a YA who uses his poker talent to stand up to his abusive pre-calc teacher. He does it in a respectful, yet clear way that shows...more
Shelia Martin
This book was brought home from the school library by my 12 year old son. I just picked it up to see what it was about. I was totally shocked to see such language in a book rated for 12 years old. When I read the word F__k on the very first page of the book I couldn't believe I was even in our school library. There are 9 curse words just in the four page introduction. This book is not fit to be on a school library's shelf. There may be a lesson to be learned in the story line but with that kind...more
Dec 29, 2008 Claudia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my guys especially
Recommended to Claudia by: Volponi talked about it at ALAN
Texas hold'em is a card game I'm only slightly acquainted with, through TV poker tournaments, but this is the heart of this novel. Huck is dealing with the loss of his beloved father, and a truly evil teacher who rubs that loss into Huck's face every day.

Before his stroke, Huck's dad named him that, teasing him for 'living on the river,' the last card dealt in Texas hold'em. His dad won the use of a special watch from year to year until his death. Mr. Abbott, the evil math teacher, literally tak...more
This book is about a boy named Huck Porter who lives in Caldwell, California. His father, Julius, was a really good poker player. He was the Champion in his town. To show it,the champ wears a watch that was blessed by the pope. One day, he died, and a man named Abbott was the new champ. He is Huck's math teacher. He is very mean to people and always bothers them. While Huck's father was in the coma before he died, he took away the watch for himself, the police couldn't do anything because he wa...more
Jaylen Johnson
This book is mostly about Texas Hold'em, but it has a lot of action. One person needs money so bad that he'll go to extreme measures to get it. The main character has to sneak into a poker tournament at a local church. If his mom finds out, he will be in trouble. A couple of people he knows are in the tournament, but they don't recognize him. One of his teachers is in the tournament, but he doesn't recognize him. The main character's teacher stole something from his dad that the main character i...more
This book had me wondering straight from the beginning, and not in a good way. It starts with a flash-forward holdup. Huck Porter, a generally typical teenager, decides he’s ready to die over a few dollars. And then the moment is half-dropped. References return every few chapters: Never enough to justify what happened; just enough to remind me of how wrong the holdup seems.

In its favor, this book’s a quick read, with the action of no-limit hold ‘em poker providing the spark. It’s easy to blip p...more
Josh Quick
Over all I thought this book about a teenager named Huck was good. Other than the somewhat predictable ending. In this book Hucks father dies suddenly and his mother works 24/7 to support them. Huck has an evil math teacher who also plays poker. But Hucks father loved to play poker. He entered tournaments sponsored by there local church. The prize for winning was a watch, that Hucks father won every year he entered. But after his death the evil math teacher practicaly steals the beloved watch. S...more
Robert Ballman
I felt that the book "the hand you're dealt" was a above average book. although somewhat predictable about a boy whos father use to be in a church poker tourament for a watch blessed by the pope. he then had a stroke and was unable to participate in the tourament the next year. the boys teacher then wins the tourament and steals the watch off the fathers dead wrist. the boy angered wants to get back and the teacher any way possible and has to lie to everyone to join the tourament. this book had...more
Jake Weaver
This book was pretty good. It was about poker. Huck's father was an amazing poker player and he won a local tournament and the prize was a watch that was blessed by the pope. Well, Huck's teacher was his rival player, and when his father died, the teacher stole the watch from him. So Huck played in the next tournament and won the watch back. The ending was very quick and that's the only thing I didn't like about the book.
Huck Porter has a great mom and a dad who loves to play Texas hold'em. His dad is so good he has won a gold watch in the local tournament and proceeded to win money for the town in a Las Vegas tournament. But Huck's dad dies suddenly and Huck desperately misses him, wanting to even the score with his nasty, pompous math teacher who took the watch and plans to win it all and give nothing back once he does. I learned family, friends, and community are so important in helping make life worth living...more
This book will have some appeal for teen boys with an interest in Texas Hold 'Em. The card playing description portions bored me and I never did quite know what was happening during those scenes...but the story was still a good one with characters I cared about. A teenage boy avenges his father's name (and kind of his death) by playing in the town's Texas Hold 'Em tournament. His main competition is his evil high school math teacher...who makes a great obnoxious villain. The card players in the...more
Small-town teenage boy goes up against his vicious math teacher in a poker tournament showdown to avenge his dead father. I read this as a library possibility because Volponi's Black and White was so good. Not sure about this one. Certainly teenagers interested in poker will be pleased to find a quick-reading novel with a poker plot, but I didn't find Volponi could make a poker tournament as interesting to a non-player in the same way that Carl Deuker, say, can make a baseball game exciting even...more
Mrs. Foley
From Follett, "When seventeen-year-old Huck's vindictive math teacher wins the town poker tournament and takes the winner's watch away from Huck's father while he is in a coma, Huck vows to get even with him no matter what it takes."

Quick read...only 167 pages. A good story for boys (or girls) interested in reading about poker. The math teacher is a jerk, the dad dies suddenly, and the good guys win in the end. Not great literature, but would keep the average student's interest.
Far too many swear words for my taste, especially since it's a YA book.
Aside from that the story is awful.
Nerdy boy, no friends, hates school, can't win
Boy just suddenly decides he's not going to take it anymore
Boy is suddenly funny, and can't be beat, makes the popular kids want to be friends, suddenly knows how to talk to girls, etc...
This book is ridiculous
A quick read that deals with grief and justice. I liked the plot line that centered around a community poker game even though I didn't really understand the explanations of how the game was played. The sleazy Mr. Abbot reminded me of several people I have met in real life and I was rooting against him.
I thought that it was a neat story about settling situations with the help of your family and people you care about. Huck is only 17 but becomes the best poker player in all of Cardwell california. Pual Volponi is the author of this book.
Interesting. Might have made a bit more sense if I actually played poker, but all the themes come through loud and clear.
Read it when I was in 7th grade and never forgot about it, a very good book.
Not his finest.
Craig added it
Jun 25, 2014
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