Excerpt from Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Paradise, Nevada

by Dario Diofebi

Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi X
Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi
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    Apr 2021, 512 pages

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Grace Graham-Taylor
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If sitting in one place evaluating different answers to the question that kept vexing him (he simply could not stay in Toronto any longer, this much he knew) made Ray vulnerable to his father's loitering, moving around the house exposed him to his mother's own traps: simply running into her, the tallest and strongest-looking Jackson, entailed a project (usually kitchen-related) which would tie him for an hour in a collaborative activity he knew was only an excuse to have a chat.

It wasn't that Ray didn't want to talk to his parents (as much as he felt like talking to anybody at all lately). He was, he would have been ready to admit, acceptably fond of them after all. It was more that he really didn't want to talk to them now, now that his impeccable decision- making had frozen, his future wasn't loading, and there were signs of an imminent internal personal OS crash.

And of course, as if on cue, his father started announcing that they needed to "have a talk" before Ray left, "just whenever you have five minutes."

Ray mentally outlined two possible scenarios: in the first one, his father having been a career counsellor for decades + Ray having chosen professional poker as a way of employing his gifts + his being in the process of moving away from Toronto and (maybe?) reconsidering his career path, all suggested the heart-to-heart about his life choices and how they made him feel that he had so far miraculously managed to avoid. It wasn't anything personal, he just really didn't want to talk about it.

The fact was, the son of the career advisor had never really needed any career advice. Ray had been 17 when he had left home for parental-chest-swelling Stanford, and 19 when he had scandalously dropped out and moved to Toronto to pursue his online poker career. By then he had already been VF1nd3r, online poker prodigy and heads up cash game1 specialist, for quite some time to pretty much everybody he knew (except, of course, the people he knew in person). But while he had stayed enrolled through the early stages of his phenomenally fast ascent to poker stardom, the 2011 ban of online poker in the US, known among initiates as Black Friday, had brought him to a crossroads: stay in school or follow the international diaspora of American poker pros? Stanford or Pokerstars.com? It had been the first time he got to apply his EV computations to a real life problem, and it had been a simple, reassuring victory for math-based decision-making. Less than two months after Black Friday, he was signing the lease to an apartment in Toronto—sight-unseen, based off an elaborate neighborhood scoring system of his own creation—by far the most rational way of playing the hand he'd been dealt.

It wasn't easy to determine how his parents had taken the move. What for years he had called their "being chill," he knew was really a byproduct of their inability (his and theirs) to discuss anything of importance with each other. He knew they worried, suspected they worried a lot, but could never figure out how much the fact that their son was making nontrivial sums of money playing cards on the internet bothered them (the Jacksons' being one of those rare American households where money-making was not considered of value in and of itself). Still, their support had stayed unwavering. As for him, if the DoJ ban that had made him an exile had taken an emotional toll (as it seemed to have for most of his poker friends on Skype and 2+2 Forum) he did not care to know: introspection was a guessing game he had no time for. His public persona displayed no doubt, having left only one lapidary comment in the "Black Friday/F*** DoJ/where next?" 2+2 thread that read: "Worry only about what you can control. Whining is for result-oriented fish. This is poker, adapt or die." (This had been quoted and commented "so much this" by lower stakes players even more fervently than all his posts usually were.)

Excerpted from Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi. Copyright © 2021 by Dario Diofebi. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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