BIG SLICK, by Eric Luper (Farrar, Strauss, Giroux 2007). Sixteen year old Andrew Lang has skimmed some $600 from the cash register at his family's dry cleaning business to feed his poker habit and bankroll his entry into local tournaments.
Unfortunately, Andrew is not as good as he thinks. He loses the $600, and is cut off by the local poker impresario/drug dealer. But he still has to put the cash back in the register before his father finds out.
After several disastrous attempts to come up with the funds, Andrew, his friend Scott, and his (hot) goth co-worker Jasmine steal Andrew's father's prized muscle car and take a road trip to a nearby Indian casino. There, they hope Andrew's skill at the poker table will allow him to make good the losses and, ultimately, square things with his father.
In BIG SLICK, first-time novelist Eric Luper presents an engaging, suspenseful, and refreshing story of teen sensibility, growth, friendship, and Texas Hold 'em. Luper's use of poker details rings true, provides realistic atmosphere, and adds to the dramatic tension. A winner.
UPDATE: Cynthia has an interview with Eric Luper here.