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Double or Nothing: How Two Friends Risked It All to Buy One of Las Vegas' Legendary Casinos Hardcover – March 18, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“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)
Top Customer Reviews
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.
One third of the book is dedicated to the Travelscape deal. Even though it is a very interesting entrepreneurial story, many readers will think this is just a "filler" for the book.
There are a few stories of the "whales" going to the casino, I liked those and for me these are the highlight of the book.
The real question remains, are Tim and Tom really great entrepreneurs or they were just lucky? They were in the middle of a war betweek the owners of the Station casinos and their Texan cousin that wanted to buy the Golden Nugget just to say he had a casino. They held the Golden Nugget for only one year, so it is hard to say if they would stand the test of time as casino owners.
The book is well edited, but the author keeps putting his partner, Tim, on a pedestal, and this is sometimes annoying. Also, he flunked geography (says his sister was adopted from "Columbia;" of course the correct name for the country is Colombia), biology (says that the prostrate is part of the urinary system, while it is part of the reproduction system; he wanted to say "bladder"), and math (says he had a profit of 226 percent with the sale of the Golden Nugget, while his profit was of 116 percent).
But, the duo pocketed USD 113 million with the sale of the Golden Nugget (USD 56.5 million per partner), at least gross (the author didn't say how much he pocketed after taxes), so who am I to say they were "wrong"...
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I didn't know what to expect when I purchased this book but I loved it and couldn't put it down. It sows that true entrepreneurs aren't limited by industry or geography. Read morePublished 1 month ago by JDon
Really interesting - awesome story about entrepreneurship and taking risks. Cool to hear more about the inner-workings of a Las Vegas casinoPublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Easy read and fun success story about young guys taking over a casino in downtown VegasPublished 2 months ago by A. Spetner
Seems like these two guys could do no wrong, ever. From high school to owners of the Nugget they never screwed up, hard to believe . Read morePublished 7 months ago by David L. Frank
I knew very little about the gaming industry before reading this book. The excitement with each investment was felt and the risk associated with each kept the story intriguing. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
I just finished reading Double or Nothing. It took me two sittings to finish the book. I would have finished it in one sitting but my wife said I was ignoring her! Read morePublished 12 months ago by Rick Doty
Tells how two friends starting from scratch, family connections, and luck made millions in the casino business in Las Vegas. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Christian T.
Interesting story about a person I knew when he was a youngster in Burnsville,MN. My son and Tom Breitling were on various youth teams together and he was a great friend. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Kay Mracek