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Full House - Pete Hautman, editor

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Putnam

The poker craze may have hit its peak already, but apparently no one notified the book industry, because the past year has seen a rash of fiction set in its 52-card world. Among the most notable are "The Picasso Flop," a "Texas Hold 'Em mystery" by bad-actor-turned-bad-novelist Vince Van Patten, and "Dead Man's Hand," a collection of crime fiction compiled by venerable anthologist Otto Penzler.

And now there's "Full House," which presents 10 all-new stories about poker. The twist? It's written for kids. You know, kids "¦ that segment of the population we don't allow to gamble?

Edited by National Book Award winner Pete Hautman ("The Bloodwater Mysteries"), the anthology utilizes mostly seasoned writers of young-adult books, each contributing a short story. As expected, most involve a teen getting in over his head in regards to the game.

But some stand out. Hautman's own "The Scholarship Game" has a gambling bully temporarily hammer out a truce with the school math prodigy to aid in card counting, while Bill Fitzhugh's "Fiddy Dollar Smile" has two students plot revenge via poker against the class stud for date-raping their friend.

All in all, it's a tight little volume that can be enjoyed by many ages, and doesn't require you know anything about the game; the glossary and guide to poker hands goes far there.

"?Rod Lott

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