Eli Elezra's 'Pulling the Trigger' Book Review

3 months ago
Eli Elezra's 'Pulling the Trigger' Book Review
10:09
18 Mar

Autobiographies are a curious beast, and businessman-turned-highrolling poker pro Eli Elezra’s recently-released in English life story – Pulling the Trigger - is no different, blending verifiable fact with obvious fiction, sporting (or not sporting!) glaringly huge omissions and containing real-life poker tales of genuine interest to fans of the game.

 As one of the stars of the old-school, highstakes, Vegas cash games which became TV reality for the turn-of the–century poker aficionado, an inside look at Elezra’s time playing with legends such as Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese should be worth the price of admission alone.

Throw in some horrific tales from his Israeli army days, long winters making money in the fish factories or driving taxis in the desolate sub-zero towns of Alaska, turning a penny-ante business into a $multi-million chain of stores and you’re all set. A poker bestseller for sure!

Except…it won’t be. Nor does it deserve to be.


Elezra’s book is – barring some self-insight into his bankroll problems over the years – a self-serving, bombastic, whitewashing of a player who those in the ‘poker-know’ now know is a liar and a degenerate and a man who doesn’t care to pay his debts.

You’ll be hard pushed to find anything in ‘Pulling the Trigger’ that mentions Elezra’s debts owed to the likes of Shaun Deeb or Cole South. You won’t see anything about Eli borrowing money from almost anyone and everyone in the Vegas poker scene, and not repaying it. No mention of the dozens of court cases against his company. But these, by almost every account other than Elezra’s own, are the stark reality of the man’s life.

Instead, we get non-stop reminders that he is a ‘winning player’ at the highest stakes. He only ‘borrows’ from his own hard-built business. He worked hard to build and keep all he has.

In fact, everything Elezra does – such as persuading the young mother of their son that the child should be with him in Vegas, or shooting a quite likely surrendering enemy in the first Israeli/Lebanon war of 1981 – is ‘the correct decision’, and glossed over super-quickly.


As I mentioned at the start, autobiographies are strange beasts – they are rarely, if ever, intimately truthful accounts of a person’s actual life. More often than not, they reflect the version of that life they wish were true. Minus the worst of the bad things, and with the aggrandised polishing of the best of the good times. Such is Elezra’s book.

It should be stated that the book was first written in Hebrew for an Israeli market – and chunks of the content are either designed to reflect that tough Israeli exterior, or to appease and appeal to the late 20th and early 21st Century zeitgeist of the nation. Elezra revels in both.

The English version, translated by Robbie Strazynski, ghost-written by two authors it would seem, and published by Mason Malmuth’s 2plus2 publishing house, would appear to be little changed from that original book in Hebrew of two years ago.


Why is this important? Because, there was plenty of time to fact-check Elezra’s story.

Plenty of time to ask about Cole South, and Shaun Deeb, and the numerous reports and rumours that Elezra was not the Vegas success story he has always portrayed himself as.

More than enough time to ensure the book would not be shot down in shreds by those who have followed the man’s career, those who have faced him across the table – or those who have had their pockets picked by his façade of success and acceptance among the biggest games and players.

It took all of two days for Elezra’s promotional AMA (Ask-Me-Anything) on 2plus2 to descend into a publisher’s horror. “About those debts Eli?” came the inevitable questions. “I pay all my debts. I have 100% of my own action,” came the reply.

But then came the screenshots of the text messages; the excuses for not paying up, the backer, the lies.



Does any of this affect Elezra’s book?

Only if you hope or expect major decisions and events to be covered, explained, dealt with; not overlooked or hidden. Only if you want an autobiography to paint a reasonably honest picture of a person’s existence.

In the book, one of Elezra’s friends lost playing Russian Roulette with a real gun. In similar fashion, ‘Pulling the Trigger’ loses by the omissions of Eli Elezra’s own hand.


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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more

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