Flying bullets and bombs. Near-death experiences. Life in the wilds of Alaska.
These aren’t the plots of three new reality shows on the Discovery channel. Those are elements of just a few of the real-life experiences of longtime high-stakes poker pro Eli Elezra. They are all part of his life outlined in the new book, “Pulling the Trigger,” which is now available in North America.
Elezra started writing the book seven years ago with Israeli writer and poker player Matan Krakow, who began recording interviews with the poker star in Las Vegas. Krakow met the 58-year-old Elezra at a $15 home game in Israel and became fascinated with his stories and personality.
The result was a book chronicling a life many may not expect from a poker player – from being in the Israeli Defense Forces to globetrotting as a backpacker to Alaska adventurer to family man. Of course, there are some high-stakes poker tales on some of the game’s biggest stages as well.
“It was his idea,” Elezra said about his first meeting with Krakow. “He said, ‘Listen, you have a unique life story and we should write something.’
“It was amazing; he came to Vegas twice and interviewed me. The next thing you know, we had something big in front of us. The Hebrew version was very successful.”
Book’s transition to English had an unlikely assistant
Elezra initially published the book in his home country of Israel. He was surprised at the book’s reception in Israel, a country without any legalized casinos or gambling options.
So, he turned to longtime poker writer and Cardplayer Lifestyle blog publisher Robbie Strazynski to translate “Pulling the Trigger” into English for a wider audience. Strazynski, who is originally from Los Angeles and now lives in Israel, was excited with the opportunity to work with one of his poker idols.
“I didn’t know how popular poker was in Israel,” Elezra said. “After this, I met Robbie at a book signing, and I couldn’t find anybody better to translate the book. He was born over here in the US, he speaks Hebrew and understands the style of the book.
“I think it took us about a year-and-a-half after we finished the book in Israel and now we’re here.”
“Here” meant the Bahamas for the PokerStars NL Hold’em Players Championship. At the tournament, Elezra officially released the English version of the book and appeared at the first of several planned signings.
Elezra is not just a world-class poker player
Elezra has made numerous televised appearances in high-stakes cash games and has more than $3.6 million in tournament winnings. The book details his life growing up in Israel and his transition to becoming a successful poker player.
That transition includes a World Poker Tour title and three World Series of Poker bracelets. But, it may be his exploits away from the poker that he felt readers might enjoy most.
“A lot of people wouldn’t believe that I almost died twice in the service,” he said. “I got shot at. Poker is a very small part of my life.”
The book also details his adventures in Alaska, which ranged from working at a fish cannery, hunting in the wild, living in a village of traditional Iñupiat people, and getting accustomed to the bitterly cold winters. He says the state also played a role in his poker education, due to his time driving a cab and playing poker with other drivers.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people who know (me) don’t know all this,” he said. “They thought I was just a guy who came from Israel.”
That statement won’t be true much longer. “Pulling the Trigger” shows that there’s much more to the man than just poker tales and big bets.