by Lang Reid
reading James Leighton’s book Alligator Blood (ISBN 978-1-47111-330-7, Simon
and Schuster, 2013) I came to the conclusion that I have lived a very
Alligator Blood describes a player whose play is bold and aggressive (The
Poker Encyclopedia). In fact I have only met one person in my life who
played professional poker and competed in the World Series of Poker, a rich
financial success that has seen nobody’s get to the top and become media
This book revolves around poker playing, financial dealings ‘almost’ within
the law, profligate spending and those who indulge in this on-line
fanaticism. Of course, as I live in Thailand, where gambling is illegal,
that has sheltered me even further
Leighton’s book describes a Daniel Tzvetkoff who becomes the on-line money
processing king, another field that I am not conversant with, dealing with
e-money which floats around as electronic ledger items and where percentages
get sliced off, without anyone really keeping the books. However, where the
e-amounts are millions, even a small percentage is good money.
What is to be understood is that the credit cards and most big banks do not
like handling the money from on-line gambling, and so this led to a new
industry where the money was ‘processed’ before it went into the legitimate
main steam. And this is where Daniel Tzvetkoff stepped into the breach.
In these financial e-businesses, it was easy to make money. Lending to risky
customers, the interest rates were between 390 and 780 percent. So a few
might go bad, but at such interest rates, who cared?
However, despite shell companies, paying into other shell companies as part
of an electronic maze, it was still possible to find out that the money was
coming from on-line gambling and lose that money. Like three million dollars
frozen for two years, and no guarantee of it coming back. That was then
followed by one of 10 million dollars.
Details of just who were involved in the on-line gambling are revealed as
well as the fall-out after the FBI caught up with the leading players,
including Daniel Tzvetkoff, whose fall from grace and the excesses of money
ended up costing him everything.
After Daniel Tzvetkoff makes his plea bargain with the American Department
of Justice, the book mysteriously goes into a diatribe as to whether playing
poker is really against the law or otherwise. From there we are given pages
describing a drug addict’s life and how he goes to Las Vegas and wins a
fortune. Quite frankly the final quarter of the book has precious little
relevance to the Daniel Tzvetkoff story before it. I suggest “filler” is the
most appropriate word. There are some happy snaps as well for your B. 545.
Leighton has written this book in a conversational style, quoting dialogue
between people, dialogue that he was obviously never there to record. This I
found the biggest let-down in the book, as the story itself was gripping
enough without records which were never possible, giving it a fictional
feel; however, names like Michael Schumacher, Frank Tyson and Mick Doohan
are real enough.
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