Louise Wener: The Perfect Play
Playing the cards life has dealt her has left Audrey Unger anxious, obsessive, and without a sense of direction. Audrey's professional poker-playing father left her and her mother behind when she was eleven, his only explanation a scribbled matchbook that advised "one day you'll understand this was probably for the best." Now, about to turn thirty-three and poised on the edge of her own midlife crisis, Audrey makes the decision to try and find him. She's prepared to risk everything in her attempt to understand him, and to finally ask what made him choose poker over his only daughter.
As anyone who's visited this site over the years knows full well, I'm a lover of all things Sleeper. As a result, I've made sure to keep up with what the members of the defunct band have been up to since they called it quits back in 1998. Everyone's gone their separate ways and taken on new endeavors, whether that means getting into music writing, artist management, or (for Wener) heading to the poker tables.
If you can recall, poker underwent a serious surge in popularity in the early 2000s and with that rise came a slew of television shows about the game. And from 2003 to 2005, British TV aired a program called Celebrity Poker Club that, sure enough, featured Wener as a challenger several times. A quick search of her name online also had a few Internet gambling site results, though they were mostly inconclusive. Could she still be playing on the web? It's possible, especially given the ongoing popularity of online poker in particular. At any given moment, Betfair's poker site has at least 10,000 (if not more!) people playing at once. I'd like to imagine Wener among that crowd, furrowing her brow pensively while taking down her opponents.
Footage of one of her appearances on Celebrity Poker Club appeared online last year and can get watch the clip below. As you'll see, she's a rather conservative and quiet player who ultimately has to pack up and leave the table.
It's important to note that this wasn't the only instance of Wener's run-in with the gambling world. As you may know, she branched off into the world of literature in the 2000s and hasn't really looked back since. And one portion of her newfound career led to her writing about (what else?) poker.
Her 2004 novel, The Big Blind (also known as The Perfect Play), centers on the story of a thirty-something woman named Audrey Unger, who attempts to find her father by playing the game that caused him to leave home. That game, of course, is poker. She wants to figure out exactly what about it made him abandon his family, which leads to her own "journey of self discovery" alongside her father once they finally reunite. That's the word according to Goodreads, which also indicates that the novel must be a pretty solid read with an average rating of 3.5 out of 5.
Wener's written a variety of other books over the years including the well-received Goodnight Steve McQueen and a memoir of sorts in Just For One Day: Adventures In Britpop. These works have provided her with other opportunities in the writing world, such as teaching at the Curtis Brown Creative's Writing School. They actually just posted a question-and-answer piece with her this past January 7th, so be sure to read that to learn about her career transition, what she enjoys about teaching, and more.
Louise Wener playing Poker
pepsi max2k via youtube.com