4.6 3
by Pete Hautman

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"You know how they say you can't climb out of a hole till you hit bottom?"
"I'm trying to find the bottom."

At seventeen, Denn Doyle isn't old enough to gamble legally, but thanks to his talent for reading tells, he's made a fortune -- and along the way, he's upset some of the most notorious Texas holdem players in Las Vegas, including

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"You know how they say you can't climb out of a hole till you hit bottom?"
"I'm trying to find the bottom."

At seventeen, Denn Doyle isn't old enough to gamble legally, but thanks to his talent for reading tells, he's made a fortune -- and along the way, he's upset some of the most notorious Texas holdem players in Las Vegas, including Artie Kingston, who had already lost his nightclub to Denn. But now Denn's luck has run out and he's just about broke. His only chance is a million-dollar, winner-take-all tournament at Artie's new casino, but Denn can't play unless he comes up with the $10,000 entry fee. Denn's future all comes down to one hand of poker.

National Book Award-winning author Pete Hautman introduced Denn Doyle in No Limit, of which School Library Journal said, "Fast paced and powerfully taut and suspenseful as a high-stakes game." Here he deals another hand of love, luck, and greed in the high-stakes world of poker.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2007: Seventeen-year-old poker prodigy Denn is in Vegas, and almost broke. He'd won a casino and restaurant from Artie Kingston, but now his luck has turned and he's down to pocket change. He's fallen in love with Cattie, a redheaded young card dealer, but he doesn't know that she works for Kingston, who is out to get Denn. Denn's only hope is a million-dollar winner-take-all tournament at a new casino that's opening, but he needs to find $10,000 for the buy-in. Is Denn really just a mark to Cattie, or something more? Alternating chapters from Denn, Cattie, and fellow player Jimbo's points of view give readers different perspectives on the action, which mostly revolves around poker hands and reading "tells," the subtle signs players look for in each other in order to decide what cards to play. A glossary and explanation of the ranking of poker hands at the end will help novices understand the game. They will have to have read No Limit first to fully appreciate Denn's story here, but poker afficionados will be eager to find out if he can bluff his way to a miracle. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
VOYA - Beth E. Andersen
This novel picks up where Hautman's No Limit (originally published as Stone Cold, Simon & Schuster, 1998/VOYA February 1999) leaves off. In that book, fifteen-year-old Denn Doyle discovers that he possesses such a gift for playing poker that by the end of the story, he has won a restaurant, enraging its former owner, professional gambler Artie Kingston. This sequel opens with Denn, now seventeen, living in Vegas, playing serious, serious poker for serious, serious stakes-the kind of scary money that one sees played on cable television. Denn is on an unbeatable streak-he is a master at studying "tells," the oh-so-subtle body language, facial expressions, and gambling behaviors of his opponents that Denn uses to decipher their hands and spot their bluffs. But Denn's luck flips dramatically. Kingston is in Vegas, obsessed with destroying Denn by using Denn's new girlfriend, the deeply damaged Cattie Hart, a casino card handler with lightning hands, to seal the deal. Denn is quickly ruined, stunned that his downward spiral was precipitated by Cattie's treachery. Kingston is not done with Denn. He sets up a winner-take-all, million-dollar game, knowing that Denn cannot resist. Denn works his way back just far enough to meet the minimum ante, and the tension cranks up to unbearable levels as Denn and Artie go after each other, poker hand by poker hand. Skillfully using the multiple-voice approach, Hautman brings to life the intricacies of poker, crafting a thrilling story of loss, good versus evil, and redemption. Best read after one finishes No Limit, Hautman's story is of such appealing excitement that it is guaranteed to make parents and teachers uneasy.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
In this sequel to No Limit, Hautman brings back his intense, high-risk-taking, low-commitment hero Denn Doyle. Now seventeen, he has won and lost a restaurant and casino and is desperate to make back enough money to get into a really big tournament. He is still too young to be gambling, although that is not how he sees what he does: "Denn did not think of himself as a gambler. Gambling was for losers." Instead, he is banking on his skills at reading tells to get him through. And he would be on his way except for the new red-headed dealer, Cattie Hart. Denn cannot read her, and that could be a huge problem. The stakes keep rising in this quick-paced narrative, which is told in third person with three viewpoint characters (Denn, Cattie, and another player, Jimbo). Hautman manages to reveal enough of the game to reel in even those of his readers who might not be up on the details, and he does so with his customary assurance. But Denn's old nemesis, Artie Kingston, is now out to get him. In clever twists made possible by the use of shifting viewpoints, the reader becomes privy to what Denn does not know about Cattie's troubled past and her precarious present. Kingston, gray visage and all, is a nice villainous counterpoint to the young Denn and Cattie, who both somehow manage to combine the artifice of the world they inhabit with their own youthful vulnerabilities. A cautionary tale rather than a love story, All-in is memorable for its clipped, tense unfolding and for the sureness with which we become aware of Denn's entanglement in the silken web of the game. Occasionally, this tensile strength wavers and Denn comes close to breaking, which brings the reader closer toglimpsing that inner self we suspect he holds close. In all, Hautman offers up a studied and sympathetic portrayal of a character addicted to risk, coasting on the edge. In the end, he leaves a small door open, because what a team this pair could make, if only… Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
Poker prodigy Denn Doyle of Stone Cold (S & S, 1998) is back. The novel opens as the now 17-year-old, who has moved to Las Vegas with money he won from poker kingpin Artie Kingston, loses his last chunk of cash in a fixed game. It turns out that Artie is behind this, and has used Denn's new girlfriend, Cattie, to deal the fatal card. Denn must raise $10,000 to enter a million-dollar winner-takes-all tournament to save his pride. Hautman tells the story through Denn, Cattie, and a jaded 22-year-old gambler. Jimbo, who talks like a 1940s gumshoe, is the voice of reason, and the most interesting of the three. Only he speaks in the first person, which dilutes the other two narratives. Denn's voice is distant at best, and he never truly earns readers' empathy. Cattie is so unilaterally bitter and unfeeling that her mutiny from the dark side seems premature. The noir mood is clever, but it also keeps readers at arm's length. The descriptions of poker play are impressive, but guaranteed to confuse the uninitiated, despite the glossary. The dialogue is snappy and the plot, especially the ending, unfolds expertly and without cliché. All in all, All-in may only be of interest to older poker enthusiasts.
—Johanna LewisCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
When Denn first came to Vegas, he was a 16-year-old poker player with $100,000. Now he's all of 17 and a professional casino Texas holdem player. When Denn falls in love with the cynical casino dealer Cattie, he suddenly starts losing money. Denn has foolishly trusted Cattie, who's been bought off by Denn's old enemy Artie (No Limit, 1998). Within two weeks, Denn has lost everything. His only choices are to go home to suburbia or win everything back. If only he can get a $10,000 stake, Denn can compete in Artie's winner-take-all poker tournament-but why should he trust Artie to run a fair game now, when he cheated to bankrupt Denn in the first place? Besides, where can Denn get $10,000? Denn's story is told in alternating narratives by Denn, Cattie and Jimbo, a 22-year-old professional poker player with a taste for rhyming slang and a begrudging affection for Denn. Character progression takes a backseat to the details of poker and the quest to win, but the tournament's tension is top-notch. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
"Hautman nails the heady buzz of winning and the gut-shot numbness of losing it all on the last turn, calling the action with all the deftness of a dealer flipping cards: sharp, fast, and effortless....A quick, slick read for wannabe sharks."—Booklist

"Hautman again delivers a deliciously high-anxiety novel...Poker fans and mystery buffs alike will want to buy in."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Skillfully using the multiple-voice approach, Hautman brings to life the intircacies of poker, crafting a thrilling story of loss, good versus evil, and redemption"—VOYA

"The dialogue is snappy and the plot, especially the ending, unfolds expertly and without cliche."—School Library Journal

"The tournament's tension is top-notch."—Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Pete Hautman is the author of Godless, which won the National Book Award, and many other critically acclaimed books for teens and adults, including Blank Confession, All-In, Rash, No Limit, Invisible, and Mr. Was, which was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Pete lives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Visit him at

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All-in 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
All in is a great book and anyone that likes to play cards would love this book
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing! It has a lot of technical poker terms but the glossary in the back comes in handy. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and wishing for more. Also, you can read this book without reading the first one. I highly recomend All-In!