Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bluff” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.95  ·  Rating details ·  942 ratings  ·  193 reviews
Michael Kardos brilliantly constructs his new novel Bluff as a magician would, delivering a perfectly calibrated performance of intrigue and, ultimately, astonishment.

At twenty-seven, magician Natalie Webb is already a has-been. A card-trick prodigy, she started touring at seventeen, took first place at the World of Magic competition at eighteen, and never reached such hei
Hardcover, 1st, 280 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Grove Atlantic / Mysterious Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bluff, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bluff

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  942 ratings  ·  193 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Bluff
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dita by: Ann
Shelves: audiobook
I loved this story of outwit, outplay, and ultimately out your opponent!

As someone who loves to play cards and gamble, whose dad taught her to play Texas Hold 'Em at age 12, I was no doubt biased toward this clever story. But one need not be a card shark or a card sharp to love the bluffing and misdirection, sometimes at a card table and sometimes not, described so expertly in this book.

Great fun! Many thanks to my Goodreads friend, Ann, for the recommendation!
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ok, this book had me at magician. I'll read just about any story with magic or magicians, however that is something of a (to use professional jargon) misdirection. One of many. This really is a story of a con, a gamble and a larceny. And it's done via cards, sort of appropriate, goes with the author's name. I really enjoyed this one, nice writing (bleak Jersey practically comes alive) great pacing, clever plotting, plenty of surprises, terrific characters, particularly the protagonist, a child p ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Magic tricks, sleight-of-hand, card sharks, high stakes poker, short cons, cheaters, and the big con are all featured here. Bluff is a lesson in storytelling. It's a story that doesn't seem like much at first, but you can't put it down. There's no walking away till this tale is told. And what the storyteller does here is he cons you into thinking it's a quick simple story about a struggling magician who is having trouble with the simplest gig, but the story grows and the tension builds bit by bi ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very stylish thriller about a young magician and a card-sharp who team up to scam a wealthy mark in a high stakes Texas Hold'em game. Beautifully written by a talented author who understands how to pace and present a story. It's much more than a typical "sting" thriller and more an exercise in literary "misdirection"! Might be the best thriller I've read in an otherwise disappointing summer for books I'd be likely to read. Very entertaining indeed!
Laura Peden
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks, hoopla
I went into Bluff by Michael Kardos blind off a recommendation. I didn’t even know what genre it was in. Basically two women, one a magician and one a card sharp, team up and attempt to cheat their way to winning a million dollars off a group of jack butts. The book leads up to a high stakes poker game that left my heart racing. It’s a beautifully built suspense novel and it’s a lot of fun. Julia Whelan narrates the audiobook so you know it’s good. I highly recommend it! -x
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
I truly wanted to like this book a lot more than I ended up doing so. Natalie is a young magician who is falling on hard times. During a magic show, an incident occurs that leads her scrambling for money and for an option for more fame. She enters the world of competitive poker, in hopes of figuring out how card counters run their own version of magic. She encounters a mysterious woman named Ellen who eventually leads her into a dangerous and high stake world. The book started out very good, wit ...more
Angie Dokos
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good story. This book was fast paced and interesting. I listened on Audible and the narrator did a great job.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bt-e-book, arc, fiction, 2018
Bluff by Michael Kardos is a fast-paced adventure of magic, poker, and card cheats. Just when you think you know what's going on, the novel turns you upside down again. Now you see it. Now you don't. 

Wow! What an awesome book! I was hooked by the description, and the book delivered on all of its promises of magic and intrigue. The book is simply written--all words have been chosen with care, and there are no fluffy filler words. The pace is swift. It starts out fast and ends at a gallop. This bo
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good caper with a unexpected and most satisfying ending. More of a con caper than a magician story. Reminded me just a bit of the movie “Molly’s Game”. A Daily Deal worth a credit.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Magicians, cardists, poker players, Greek shufflers
This fast-moving story about two women pulling off a poker sting was almost perfectly constructed. A believable and sympathetic character with just enough backstory to motivate her, secondary characters given just enough but not too much fleshing out, and a plot that provides entertaining twists and turns all the way to the end.

Natalie Webb is a young magician, though she's not feeling so young nowadays. As a teenager, she was an up-and-comer who thought she'd be the next David Blaine. Then she
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I didn't know anything about this going into it, and it was so good!!

I don't really want to say anything about the plot so others can be surprised too. I'll just say that I loved Natalie, the main character. I loved the whole thing.
Cooper Mckim
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the last book my dad recommended to me. I'm glad he did because the audiobook reader on it was the same as a previous book we'd read together so we talked about that last week. I thought he might have ruined it when he introduced it because he has a tendency to spoil some books, so I called him on it. But after finishing it, he didn't ruin it at all. It is still something of a sad ending, but it was not what I expected at all.

This isn't great literature or anything like that, but it fee
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: author
Drop what you're doing and read this book immediately. Like a magician (or maybe a cardsharp?) Kardos lures us in and just when we're most enthralled, pulls off a trick that leaves us delighted, horrified, and stunned. Bluff shows us what happens when the worlds of magic and cheating at cards intertwine. The effect is riveting.
Kater Cheek
If you want a good con/heist novel, this is exactly what you're looking for. A sleight-of-hand performing magician prodigy and a skilled card cheat meet up to pull off an impossible heist to steal money from a high stakes poker game. Does that not sell it for you?

I found the main character Natalie likeable in that she always seemed just one minor disaster away from rock bottom. She's broke, her car is a piece of crap, she has no friends, and her pride and temper have caused her to ruin her not-v
May 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Listened to this on Audible. Magic acts, poker and interesting twists to a plot. Got this a two for one sale. Did learn how some magic acts, card tricks in particular, are constructed. Quick story to listen to.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
An absolute delight. Natalie maims a volunteer at her magic show in a priceless scene, but it's Natalie we feel bad for. Surrounded by jerks, she's the victim of repeated unfortunate circumstances for which she is totally innocent or only partly blameworthy.

Falling deeper into a hole, she shifts from honing her craft as a professional magician to learning about card sharps. This sets in motion a suspenseful series of events leading up to a million-dollar poker match. In the process, Natalie team
Pratibha Pandey
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a well written and well researched book. This book was so fresh in the character detailing and the way it pushed forward , the boundaries between magic and reality fading in every chapter . Natalie is a good magician who is pushed to a bad corner due to her circumstances. She is true to her art and her heart , both. She is looking for a card sharp for a story and ends up finding the perfect one , only to get involved in being a cheat herself for one night. The night turns out to be nothing ...more
Jane Goldberg
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
OMG! What an incredible con (as in con (wo)man. Firstly, I've been as naive as Natalie and believed a big bunch of lies a guy has said (when I was younger, seriously) just to get with me. Poor Natalie; he naivety destroyed her career. As young adults, as much as we hate what our parents tell us, sometimes we need the benefit of their experience. Apparently, Natalie did, too.

Flash forward to now. she's a good magician, but she never learned her lesson-DON'T RUST ANYONE. Let THAT be a lesson to ev
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Certainly not the sort of thing typically found in my reading diet, this is a phenomenally gripping yarn. It’s immensely enjoyable to witness the characters’ motivations and all the intricate workings of their multiple cons unravel. Kardos’s obvious delight in the telling is infectious and gripping.

The best pop novel I’ve read in centuries.
Geonn Cannon
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Five stars is a bit of hyperbole, but I did really enjoy this book a lot. The less said about the plot, the better. It makes the surprises better. It would also make a really good movie, I think.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
They say there is honor among thieves, but that honor is thin on the ground in Michael Kardos’ Bluff. This is unfortunate because magician Natalie Webb could use all the help she gets after a trick goes wrong at one of her rare gigs. Her bright idea to make some money to pay her legal bills lands her in bigger trouble than she could ever have realized...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss, for review consideration.
Justin Brendel
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A clever, witty, con/grift plotline that kept firing until the end. This story developed quickly, flushed out some fun characters, and had some twists along the way. A close-up magician gets into financial trouble and finds a possible quick win. The concept of a poker cheat and a magician teaming up to pull off a card heist is brilliant. Just watch out for the old switcheroo!
Abbe Macbeth
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well, I sped through this book! I really enjoyed the story - magician turned poker cheat, and the results of trying to cheat at a big game. There were a few turns I didn’t expect (particularly the big climax), which is always nice. Definitely a fun, enjoyable read!
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun read about down-on-her-luck magician and sparse cast of quirky supporting characters. I highly recommend this book, it reads fast (making it the perfect summer escape) and I applaud it's great plot twists.
Will Manuel
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book pleasantly surprised me. Fast paced. Good beach read. Very creative and well done the Sting-like twists. If you like cards and magic, a definite plus.
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I didn’t expect the twist at the end—no small feat! Plus, Jersey! Loved it!
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really awesome read, kept me guessing, it's got the edge and it's got the magic.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was a really fun read, with a believable, flawed just-right, main character. I also enjoyed how the author ended the book, he didn't pull any punches. Would recommend!
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
3.5 - 4 stars

I really enjoyed this one! I wish there was a sequel
Ives Phillips
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
My god, that was a wild ride! High stakes and trouble coming from everywhere!

I think the only disappointment was the lack of character development, at least until the whiplash turn of motives and secrets in the last bit.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please add/update edition details 3 12 Jan 28, 2019 07:21AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please correct page count 2 15 May 17, 2018 02:10PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Substitution Order
  • This Green and Pleasant Land
  • Reset
  • The Getaway
  • The Roommate (Cormac Reilly, #.7)
  • Inside Jobs: Tales from a Time of Quarantine
  • Nothing More Dangerous
  • Children of the Master
  • Shelter
  • Tell Me Lies
  • A Place to Remember
  • History of Bourbon
  • The Others
  • Coming Out Party
  • Henrietta & Eleanor: A Retelling of Jekyll and Hyde
  • Changeling (Sorcery and Society, #1)
  • In Her Skin
  • Nevada-Tan
See similar books…
Michael Kardos ( is the Pushcart Prize-winning author of the novels Bluff, Before He Finds Her, and The Three-Day Affair, named by Esquire as a Best Book of the year, and the story collection One Last Good Time, winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for fiction. He has a degree in music from Princeton University and played the drums professionally for a nu ...more

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We’ve got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
3 likes · 0 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »