When I wrote Hot Shot, a friend of mine had lost his entire savings and was literally on the street. He couldn’t talk to his family or his close friends about the addiction because, although sympathetic, they just didn’t understand how anyone could get “carried away” like that. As he explained what happened—he got excited by winning $10,000 at an Indian casino, then immediately lost $20,000.
To get it back, he gambled away $50,000. I knew there was a story there, but I had no idea how to begin. I began by going to Vegas! I visited the Rio where the World Series of Poker is played every October and during that time, I played poker, talked to some heavy winners, and got the bug. I could see how gaming entices, thrills, excites and ultimately captivates the gambler. So much so, that gambling becomes a silent addiction and the negative effects are never felt in the short run. It’s the come-on of partial reinforcement (sometimes you win, sometimes you lose) that lures the unsuspecting victim into its web. And the secrecy surrounding losing money. It took two years of attending gambling anonymous meetings and talking to many different kinds of gamblers, some who had become addicted to their “method” for winning, others to “escape” from reality. Ultimately, it felt that gambling is about power, believing you are in control, so that when that control is overwhelmed by the loss of money, and you realize you are not in control, the addiction has corralled you.
Since that time, I have earned a “certificate” in gambling addiction from UCLA and some of the mystery surrounding this terrible affliction has come to light. I’m hoping that Hot Shot will reveal some of the stigma and silent suffering addicted gamblers go through (but in a light-hearted way) and see how my protagonist, 33-year-old Tyler West, a gorgeous but troubled young man overcomes his affliction.
Maybe my opening lines give a clue as to the feelings of being in control and omniscience that addicted gamblers feel:
“Call,” Tyler said. He held the cards close to the vest the way he always did in a tournament.
He had three aces, a ‘monster’ as they say in poker, and the old guy across from him— hiding behind a ball cap and thick dark glasses—was bluffing. Tyler could see it in his body language. The guy kept wiping his nose with the back of his hand and wetting his lower lip with his tongue, a dead giveaway. He was chasing; he didn’t have anything in that hand.
Tyler smiled. Ball Cap looked at his hand and then at Tyler, or at least his head moved as if he were looking at him.
“You’re bluffin,’ Hot Shot,” Cap said, his hands shaking.
Tyler smiled, we’ll soon find out.
Pot had a hundred thousand in it. Not much. But enough to get Tyler to the next level and a little closer to entering The World Series of Poker at the Rio in Las Vegas. He was so close. Here at the Bixter, a hovel of a hotel next to a cemetery in downtown Vegas, Tyler had won a tournament and gotten the winner’s bracelet last year. Now, he was headed for The Series. He knew it. The World Series makes history. It’s the Olympics of poker. A ten- thousand-dollar buy-in, millions of dollars to be made, no second chance, and the respect of the entire world of poker. It’s a life-changing moment, with life-changing money. A million-dollar decision at the turn of a card.
Tonight, Bruno Hempt, the burly Russian who had for the last two years bankrolled Tyler for every poker tournament, handed the kid a suitcase with one point five million dollars inside. He winked at the kid when Tyler took it from his hands. The Russian needed the money laundered and his Uncle Yuri “Dom” Domitrovitch would be pleased—especially if the kid came back with five million in clean, untraced casino bills.
Hot Shot, they’d called him. And now, if he could win the tournament, he could make it to The World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas.
Tyler had the confidence.
He pulled out a piece of paper from his pants pocket and pushed it onto the table.
“That right there is the deed to my house in Bel Air.”
He fumbled in his pocket again and came out with a pink slip.
“And this is the pink slip to the Ferrari.”
Lazy belched and scratched his chest and just stared at Tyler.
“You been snorting, boy?” Lazy pulled out a marker and threw it onto the table.
The dealer dealt the river card, the last card, which would seal the deal. Then they turned up their cards.
“Holy Shit,” Lazy yelled, and as he threw his hand face up on the table. “Holy shit!”
* * * * * * * * * * *
Hot Shot is a suspense novel published by Fiery Seas Publishing, November 2016.
Payback is a powerful thing. . .
Actor and bartender, Tyler West experiences a sudden streak of luck — winning poker games. Determined to change his life, he enters the World Series of Poker. His life is suddenly turned upside down when the Russian mafia fronts him 1.5 million dollars to play at the tables. And then. . .he loses. . .
Now on the ride of his life, deceit and deception are his key to uncovering the truth. He must recoup the money, but will it come at a price? Can he stay alive long enough or will his time run out?
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Meet the author
S. A. Stolinsky was born in San Francisco, California. She began her career as an actress in motion pictures, television and stage and created a unique therapy combining acting exercises with psychodynamic psychotherapy to help survivors of all kinds of trauma overcome the aftereffects of abuse.
S. A. started her writing career in 1973 when they needed a script for a Starsky and Hutch and she developed one. She then began writing at UCLA and wrote two one-woman plays presented in Los Angeles: Loose Connections which one the Barry Award for best play of the season, and Emma Goldman Speaks Tonight, about the firebrand anarchist in the early part of the 20t century.
Since that time, S. A. returned to UCLA to become a Ph.D. clinical and forensic psychologist and has written a non-fiction book for abuse survivors entitled, ACT-IT-OUT: 25 Expressive Ways to Heal from Childhood Abuse, which was a top seller for over nine years. A second edition of the popular book was launched in April of this year and is available on Praeclarus Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.
She is also the author of the comedy/mystery Counterfeit Lottery, the first of a three book deal, and the author of Date Night: an award winning compilation of short stories (it won the Good Guys Publishing award). She has also been published in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.
She is currently working on a script of her short stories to be presented as a television series. Dr. Stolinsky lives with her husband in Los Angeles.
All comments are welcomed.