Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Teen Gambling

on December 30, 2010

The Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling is offering a Youth Problem Gambling Awareness and Arts Grant. The Grant asks teens to create a dynamic youth problem gambling awareness message using the arts as the vehicle for the message. This may include a short film, digitial story, drawing or painting a mural or poster, singing, dancing, or performing.

When, I saw the grant application, I started thinking about this issue of teen gambling, and did a little digging to find YA books written about the subject. I wanted to see if I could propose a project for the youth at Denney Juvenile Justice Center which would use YA literature, poetry writing, and perhaps even a little collage art. A couple books with noteworthy mention are:

No Limit by Pete Hautman

Dennis Doyle is invited to play Poker, but soon discovers that he’s pretty good at Poker and can read people’s tells. (The signs which give away the hand a person is holding.) Soon, Dennis is engaged in playing at the town’s biggest poker game, and winning. As the story progresses, Dennis’ obsession with gambling  grows and soon he’s lost his girlfriend, friends, and family members. At the end of the story, Dennis has won the biggest price of them all….Marcels and he is running the place. But…we also see that everything else is gone. The reason I enjoyed this story is because it shows the progression of the addiction of gambling. More than any other story, this one really dives into what it looks like when an addiction takes over. I think it’d be a hit with the kids in juvie because addictions, of all kinds, are such a strong thread for the majority of them.

Big Slick by Eric Luper

Andrew Lang works in his Dad’s dry-cleaning business and lusting over the hot, Goth gal, Jasmine. And, Andrew is very good at Poker….even if he is stealing money from the dry cleaning till to fund his gambling. However, after one bad game at Shushies, Andrew is banned from poker and Dad finds out the till is short and fires Jasmine.  Soon, Andrew, Jasmine, and Scott are headed out to the Casino to try their hand at the Poker tables.  The surprise about this story is the ending. Andrew gives up Poker, however, he and his best friend, Scott begin running a $3-$6 game for high school students which is soon bringing them in a steady income.  As in Pete Hautman’s, No Limit, the ending of the Big Slick, does not wrap everything up in a neat little bow…something which I think paints a much more realistic picture of teen addicts. (Gambling, or other addictions)

Full House: 10 Stories About Poker, edited by Pete Hautman

Short stories are always great to use in the writing workshop. The kids move quickly through the detention center, and sometimes, a teen who is there one week, will not be there the next week. This makes it hard to discuss novels. But the short story can be read in one hour’s time and discussed. This collection of short stories offers quite a wide-selection. From a story about a midnight poker game with a devil, to a story about an internet poker scheme gone wrong, I think this collection would be a great way to kick off the discussion of teen gambling.


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