Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fool Me Once by Rick Lax

Last May, I reviewed Richard Roeper's Bet the House, a book about his gambling experiences.  When Rick Lax of Las Vegas Weekly read that review, he agreed with my opinion that it was repetitious, and asked if I'd review his book, Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners, and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas.  Lax' book is his own story of his first experiences in Vegas, when he accidentally moved there.

Rick Lax had a disastrous experience with a girl in Chicago who had been conned by a drug dealer, graduated from law school, passed the bar exam, and, instead of backpacking through Europe as other law school grads did, packed his magic kit, and headed to Las Vegas with his mother for a short stay.  Knowing his girlfriend had been the victim of a scam, he intended to learn everything about deception, so he could protect himself.  But, as the woman who became his roommate told him, "The city sucks people in.  Nobody under thirty moves out of Vegas."  Lax is still in Vegas, where he learned quite a bit about deception, and quite a bit about himself.

Lax' roommate, a Russian dancer, provided access for him to clubs, and other people.  Along the way, he dated a bartender, but never trusted her, hung out with other magicians, studying them, and their deception, played poker, and watched other card players.  He does tell stories of hustlers and hookers.  It's a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the people tourists never think of when they think of Vegas, the hard-working people.  But, Lax is careful to point out how deceptive the entire town is, from the giant hotels to the allowance of free admission to casino staff at clubs so crowds attract tourists.

Fool Me Once is Lax' own admission that he went to Vegas looking for deception and lies, found some, and, created his own reality.  Lax is an intelligent man, widely read, who can quote experts and psychological studies.  And, he's very self-aware, that, in looking for deception, he overlooked the truth.  It's an interesting story of fakes and fraud in Vegas.  But, it's also a sad confession of what Rick Lax had made of himself, in expecting to find cheaters.  And, I have the feeling Rick Lax won't fool himself twice.

Rick Lax' website is

Fool Me Once by Rick Lax.  St. Martin's Griffin, ©2011. ISBN 9780312545703 (paperback), 288p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author's publicist sent me a copy of the book, in hopes I would review it.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

This is interesting to me, in part because it's revealing a world that's so different from the one I inhabit! I'll have to check this out...thanks.

Sharon said...

Sounds interesting. I've wondered about behind the scene Vegas.

Lesa said...

Totally different from the world most of us inhabit, Elizabeth, and the people most of us know.

Lesa said...

It's actually behind the scenes with the people who live, and work there, Sharon.