MEET PETER ALSON An overeducated underachiever, he's spent his postcollege decades doing his best not to grow up. Now, having just turned the incomprehensible (to him) age of fifty, and staring down his own mortality, this rambling- gambling bachelor decides it's time to settle down. After years of equivocating, he pops the question to his longtime girlfriend. A wedding date is set for just after Labor Day, and to pay for it, a plan is hatched involving poker and a trip to Vegas. Alson boards a plane bound for the neon desert on his way to the biggest game in town, the 2005 World Series of Poker. Thus begins Take Me to the River, a first-person account of one inveterate gambler and bad boy's quest to grow up while at the same time compete with more than 5,000 players vying for over $56 million in prize money during a scorching Vegas summer. Take Me to the River is a hilarious, heart-wrenching tale of Las Vegas and an exploration of what it means to be part of one of the fastest-growing and most popular sports in the United States, at the moment of its apogee, and of the lessons that poker has to teach about probability and luck, good and bad fortune, patience, perseverance, and -- most fitting for a man with marriage in his near future -- commitment.