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Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last Great American Pool Hustler Hardcover – October 9, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (October 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618664742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618664740
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This new release from Sports Illustrated writer Wertheim (Venus Envy), who expertly reports a true life story reminiscent of The Hustler and The Color of Money, details the exploits of Danny Kid Delicious Basavich, who, after dropping out of high school in the 1990s, went from being a suicidal, overweight teen to a legendary pool player. Wertheim has created a new version of the American dream, one where the predictable life of white picket fences and green lawns is replaced by the adventures brought by the spin of a cue ball and wads of greenbacks continually changing hands. At the heart of the book is the engrossing tale of two distinct relationships. The first is about Kid's two selves—the personable, pool-playing wiz and the bedridden, depressed bundle of nerves. The other story line follows the ruckus raised by the pool-playing exploits of the fat and friendly Kid and his fit and feisty partner, Bristol Bob. Adding to the book's appeal is Wertheim's eloquent and vivid prose that so perfectly captures the squalid, sepia-toned environs of America's billiard halls that it's easy to forget that the events in this book reflect recent history and not pool's roaring 1920s heyday . (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

If professional pool players are an endangered species, pool hustlers would seem altogether extinct. But like a field researcher reporting a passenger pigeon in New Jersey, Wertheim presents Danny Basavich, aka Kid Delicious, as proof that hustlers walk among us yet. He couldn't have asked for a better subject. Like pool's most famous big man, Delicious has a larger-than-life personality and an ability to make losers love him. But he also has a dark side, "full-moon phases" that sometimes lay him low for months. Wertheim records Delicious' journey from high-school loser to high-stakes winner, keeping the pacing brisk as the Kid learns the ropes on the road, in bed, and at the bank. Eventually, with his face and belly too well known to prospective marks, Delicious tries to make the transition to professional pool, which, paradoxically, is far less lucrative. Pool insiders often lack the literary chops to sell their stories to the general public; Wertheim, a professional sportswriter (Transition Game, 2005), has an eye for detail and can turn a phrase—and he's clearly fascinated by the game. You will be, too. Graff, Keir

More About the Author

L. JON WERTHEIM is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and the author of five books, including Blood in the Cage, a chronicle of the rise of mixed martial arts, and Running the Table, about a bipolar pool hustler named Kid Delicious, which has been optioned for film by Tom Hanks's Playtone and is currently in development. His work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing numerous times.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 42 customer reviews
Wertheim's crisp writing keeps a complex story on track.
S. L. Enholm
I may not be a pool enthusiast, but there is much to like in Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last Great American Pool Hustler by L. Jon Wertheim.
Cynthia K. Robertson
Even if your not a hard gambler or a pool player, you will enjoy this book.
J. Ludwig

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Elderkin on October 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The story of Kid Delicious is great fun and a look into the world of pool, hustling, gambling and life on the road that most of us have no idea even exists. The author brings the cast of characters to life and for someone like me with a 9 to 5 job, wife and kids it was stunning to read how these guys lived on the road for months with only their wits and pool skills to keep them going. I was afraid this book would be another pumped up magazine article, but there was much depth and backstory throughout so I never got that feeling. The book is well researched and the writing is crisp and to the point. I highly recommend this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Ludwig on October 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I found Running The Table to be an excellent read. Even if your not a hard gambler or a pool player, you will enjoy this book.
Jon Wertheim's writing is exceptional and the tales of Kid Delicious and his travels are really fun and entertaining.
To read more about Danny Basavich aka Kid Delicious Google: PoolJax
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Gross on October 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This was a great book. One of those books you don't want to end. Kid Delicious is a person with insecurities, fears, and issues that we can all relate to. I found myself rooting for him on every page. It feels like L. John Wertheim is in the back seat of the car for the entire journey. His ability to paint a picture of the pool sub-culture is second to none. I highly recommend this book to anyone who can relate to an ordinary person doing his best to be extraordinary in his pursuit.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John W Terrell on October 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
RUNNING the TABLE...Danny Basavich's life story up to now is a great read as I knew it would be. If you enjoy pool, hustling, gambling and con jobs, this is a must read. Although I never got to play Danny, I've met him and watched him play many times. He's a great player and a great guy. John "Johnny T" Terrell
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Format: Hardcover
"Jeez, that fat man, look at the way he moves. Like a dancer.
And those fingers, them chubby fingers. That stroke,
It's like he's playing the violin or something."

- Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) marveling at
- Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) in "The Hustler"
-
The above quote is what begins the PROLOGUE of this gripping true story of Danny "Kid Delicious" Basavich. Danny is a 5 foot 9 nine inch 320 pound, charming, bipolar, depressed, suicidal, crowd-pleasing, warm-smiling, ice-breaking, pool-hustling, professional champion, Jewish mensch, from New Jersey, by way of Brooklyn! Danny as a kid would buy candy and treats in bulk, bring them to school and sell them at outrageous markups between classes. He also ran poker games during study hall and football pools on Fridays. He ingeniously figured out that packs of baseball cards that included valuable bonus cards were slightly thicker than the regular packs. Using a micrometer Danny could figure out which packs had the valuable cards in them without opening the pack and would then buy those packs and resell the bonus cards at a huge markup. In summary, before Danny started playing pool he already had the makings of a classic hustler. Due to his girth Danny was teased and bullied unmercifully in high school and dropped out when he was fifteen. Danny became overridden with depression. He would sleep all day and eat unbelievable amounts of food. Then he discovered pool, which probably saved his life and made this writer's dream of a story reality.

Danny starts practicing pool in every waking minute of his life and his burgeoning talent gives him a reason to live.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Daniels on November 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story may be about pool, it may be about hustling, it may be about gambling, it may be about a side of life known to very few. But most of all it is a love story. Love of a game, love of a lifestyle, love of the strange relationships among thieves in the night.

The incongrous story of an insecure, bullied, "last guy you'd pick to be a pool shark" fat kid from New Jersey - that is Running The Table.

This is Rocky Balboa winning the crown. This is David beating Goliath. This is Romeo cast as Kid Delicious and Juliet as the game of pool. A wonderful book indeed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I may not be a pool enthusiast, but there is much to like in Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last Great American Pool Hustler by L. Jon Wertheim.

Danny Basavich is the most unlikely of heroes. A native of Manalapan, NJ, Basavich was an over-weight kid who suffered from bipolar disorder. He was repeatedly bullied by other kids, which led to a pattern of switching from school to school. Finally, he dropped out and got his high school diploma through an alternative program before he turned 16. Not having anything to occupy his time, he started hanging out at a local pool hall. The locals liked this amiable kid who had a natural talent for pool. After taking him as far as they were able, they then drove him up to Chicago Billiards in West Haven, CT--considered to be the "finishing school" of pool players. Here, Basavich learned to progress from pool player to a "pool thinker," allowing him to visualize a game of pool like a game of chess and thus, always looking toward future plays.

At Chicago Billiards, Basavich met Bristol Bob Begey. Together, they decided to take to the road and try to make a living hustling pool. Much of this book details their travels together, as well as Basavich's solo road trips. This is a fascinating lifestyle as they traveled all over the country. Sometimes, Basavich would make $5000 on a set of pool, and then make another $10-15,000 on side bets. But pool hustlers also tend to be compulsive gamblers, and they could lose the dough just as fast on cards, casino games, and other bets. Wertheim also talks about what makes a good hustler. Often times, Basavich would intentionally lose a game early to win a big pot later on.
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