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Double or Nothing: How Two Friends Risked It All to Buy One of Las Vegas' Legendary Casinos Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 18, 2008


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, March 18, 2008
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (March 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060835834
  • ASIN: B001IDZJ3Q
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,043,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In less than a decade, friends Tom Breitling (the conservative one) and Tim Poster (the risk taker) founded a successful Internet travel business and sold it for millions. Then in 2003, the pair bought the legendary and past-its-prime Golden Nugget casino for $215 million. Las Vegas has always been a magnet for anyone who wanted to take his life to a new place, Breitling explains. It embraced anyone who wanted to take a risk and wanted to make it better. His account of those heady, hardworking times features a doomed reality show; an arrogant, very lucky gambler dubbed Mr. Royalty; and appearances by the likes of Steve Wynn and Andre Agassi. It's astounding, with such volatile circumstances and a Vegas backdrop, that Breitling's book is so bland. His average-guy approach loses its flavor quickly as his narrative trades insight for clunky, oft-repeated metaphors in which the author compares himself to a point guard in basketball. What should be a story of two young guys trying to steer a risky business in America's playground reads too often like a business seminar transcript with hint of a scandal. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Tom Breitling’s inspiring and jealousy-inducing story of the entrepreneurial bravado that led him and a friend to own The Golden Nugget.” (Esquire )

“Beyond all of the colorful stories in Double or Nothing, beyond the eye-opening success of two young American entrepreneurs, there is the most important story of all: a story about friendship and loyalty.” (Andre Agassi )

“Tom Breitling and Tim Poster are the ultimate American entrepreneurs. Tom has a great story to tell.” (Tony Bennett )

“For whatever misguided reasons, Tom Breitling says he grew up wanting to be me. Instead, he wound up owning The Golden Nugget and making two deals each worth upwards of a hundred million dollars. Looks like he grew up to be A-Rod instead.” (Bob Costas )

“A great read, and a true rags to riches American success story…The narrative goes down smooth as a good scotch, with a rhythm that would have made Sinatra proud!” (Ben Mezrich, bestselling author of Bringing Down the House and Rigged )

“There’s no shortage of nuggets in...Double or Nothing. Breitling reveals the tense times with his Golden Nugget partner, Tim Poster…,and the hardball deals.... Masterful writing and reporting by co-author Cal Fussman take the reader on the wild ride that made [Breitling and Poster] millionaires in their 30s.” (Norm Clarke, Las Vegas Review Journal )

“[A] fantastical story…. The book is full of interesting tidbits…. But the big “aha!” in the book might be the realization that they sold out too soon. It will be interesting to see the next trick up Breitling and Poster’s sleeves.” (Associated Press )

“[A] delightful and insightful travelogue...Breitling presents a tale of a remarkable friendship interwoven with indelible portraits of various players…. But the book is more than a series of memorable characters…It also provides details of gigantic transactions that make you a fly on the wall of boardrooms with legends.” (Las Vegas Sun )

Customer Reviews

A very easy and fun reading.
Marne Buchanan
All in all, a riveting story, an old Vegas feel, and a few genuine characters add up to a great book!
Jeremy Hendricks
It is a very enjoyable read and when I go to Las Vegas next time - would be fun to meet them!
Beach gal

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By UNLVprof on March 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
... to the "college lit" crowd: the internet, gambling, and reality TV.

Tom Breitling and Tim Poster first pioneered a visionary approach to online hotel room sales, and then sunk their profits into the same resort that launched Steve Wynn's career: the venerable Golden Nugget. The latter adventure was recorded by the producers of *Survivor* -- and this is where the story takes a particularly human, uniquely 21st century turn. Breitling laments a professional and personal life lost to the condensed and overly dramatic needs of reality television, and his genuine disappointment upon seeing the finished (and nationally televised) product gives this book an honest and thoughtful tone.

Another element I enjoyed: this is an author who clearly gets Las Vegas, and who obviously has deep admiration and affection for the place. The book is filled with behind-the-cultural-scenes glimpses of the Las Vegas community (and no, that sentence contains no typos: Las Vegas indeed has both a culture and a community).

Contrast this with the recently released *Winner Takes All,* which belongs firmly in the "loathing Las Vegas" literary tradition. An uncritical read of *Winner* leaves you with the impression that all of the city's key players are actually losers -- or at the very least, they all engage in self- (which is to say Las Vegas-) loathing introspections. Breitling's tale, on the other hand, reveals a very human, very decent, and very proudly Las Vegas story -- albeit one that exists beyond the reach of the typical narrative woven by the city's critics.

This book deserves a place atop the college lit bestseller list, in the tradition of *Bringing Down the House* and *Moneyball.* It shares the a "generation next" Las Vegas theme with the former book, and it shares with the latter one a different analytical lens to appreciate the complex intersections of the internet and 21st century tourism.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Adam J. Loewy on October 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book had the potential to be very good - the story was interesting, the backdrop was the Internet Boom and Vegas, and the main characters were fairly original. However, as a result of the puff piece writing, this turned out to be one of the worst "memoirs" (if you can even call it that) I have ever read.

The major problem with this book is that it just skims over the real interesting parts of the story. For example, these two guys purchase the Golden Nugget, which is inherently interesting. Unfortunately, the author spends no more than 4 pages discussing exactly how the multi-million dollar deal went down. It was like giving a Cliff Notes version of the critical part to this story.

In addition, Fussman feels the need to remind the reader of the great friendship the two main characters have no less than 200 times during the course of the book. Ok, we get it. They are good friends. The problem is that Fussman barely spends time discussing the real fights they have (as any partnership does) and the most time discussing one fight is about when one of the guys dates Jamie Pressly.

Finally, the name dropping in this book is beyond absurd. Again, we get it - we know these guys know celebrities but the constant references to "we were having dinner with Tony Bennett and....." is annoying.

In all, the overall story is interesting but a story this good deserved to be told by a much better author.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Penn on March 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I loved the book. I read it last night, cover to cover. I disagree with the Publishers' Weekly review. Instead of spinning a tale of self-indulgent action and high-living, the authors tell a real story about how relationships, trust, hard work, and good timing can lead to amazing success that started from nothing. This is a fast-paced read that shows the human side of seeking and achieving not only success, but joy and fulfillment in the business world. The authors make the "[...]" and gaming industries understandable and compelling. Also, Vegas is full of characters and stories. The authors deftly include enough stories to introduce and give the flavor of Vegas, but not bog the story down. I highly recommend this book to all - whether looking for a fast-paced, entertaining read, or looking for insights on how to succeed in business.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Business Reader on November 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm trying to figure out how big of an ego one has to have to believe that the world is interested in this story. A connected guy (Tom) brings in a buddy (Tim) and they make some money when the timing is right. The buddy then decides to write a book that provides only minimal information on the "how" or "why" the events unfolded, but covers a lot of the "what" happened - which is already documented.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Beach gal on March 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a great read about two kids who met in college and went on to create a success story in Las Vegas - they couldn't be two different types of people - but they forged a partnership which withstood the challenges of a tough and fast paced business environment.

It is a very enjoyable read and when I go to Las Vegas next time - would be fun to meet them!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brenda Frank VINE VOICE on April 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Imagine watching a guy play craps in your casino, costing you millions of your money as he rolls and wins, over and over. I can't, but young financial daredevils Tom Breitling and his partner Tim Poster lived this adventure. Double or Nothing is the story of these self-made men who met in college and began with an idea, a desk and a phone to create 2 business ventures making over $100 million each.

Luck, hard work, knowledge and daring are the elements Tom and Tim used to make their fortune. Tim, the idea man, began the hotel room booking business that became Travelscape which Expedia bought for over $100 million. Tom was the more conservative partner who shared the risk and expanded the vision to make it happen. The second million (actually $115 million) came from the purchase and sale, in less than a year, of the Golden Nugget Casino in downtown Las Vegas. That's 226% in one year on their $50 million investment.

Tom takes us through the ups and downs of these ventures, sharing Las Vegas anecdotes and history, bold moves and bluffs made over drinks and dinners and the staggering tension and anxiety underlying the risk making it all possible. Double or Nothing is a roller coaster ride through Vegas with lots of dialogue and no filler or fluff. It's a winner.
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