P.P..P...P...POKER FACE - Paul Mendelson

Written by Mike Stotter

I’ve played table-tennis and ten-pin bowling with Michael Connelly, been on a spy day with the late Vince Flynn and now had a fun evening playing Texas Hold ’Em poker with Paul Mendelson and guests. Paul is renown for his poker and bridge knowledge. Well, he has written eleven books on bridge, seven on poker and one on casino games.

Paul Mendelson began writing at school, when he should have been doing other things, but writing and debating prizes followed. On leaving school, he ran a fringe theatre company, performing classic plays, his own new writing, and revue shows.

From there, he moved to the National Theatre, first front-of-house, then as an assistant director and, finally, as a playwright. At the age of 21, his play, “You’re Quite safe With Me” was performed at the Cottesloe Theatre, making him then, the youngest writer performed at the National Theatre.


A short and largely unsuccessful stint followed writing for television for shows like “The Bill” and “Moon and Son”.

Over the following years, Mendelson concentrated on non-fiction work, producing a dozen titles on mind-sports such as bridge, poker and casino games, as well as a weekly column on bridge for the Financial Times. He has also interviewed business leaders and embarked on travel writing for the FT, as well as contributing on diverse subjects to many publications, here in the UK, the US, Australia and South Africa.

During this time, Mendelson also wrote “Across the Veldt” – a monologue about the political and cultural transitions in South Africa, and numerous short stories.

Having attempted several novels over the years on varying subjects, he returned to his first love, crime fiction and, after various twists and turns, emerged with “The First Rule of Survival”, snapped up by Constable & Robinson.

The evening was attending by actors Philip Glenister and Sean Gilder, authors Mark Billingham, Martyn Waites, Peter Guttridge, James Gurbutt and trade folk: Michael Carlson and Mike Stotter. Others in support were Barry (Double-booked) Forshaw and Chris Simms; plus the good folk of Constable Robinson. The evening was organized by Lucy Ramsey, who unfortunately suffered an accident with her eye and couldn't make it.

In no time you could easily tell those who played poker and those who played poker. Paul designated himself the dealer throughout, which took the stress and strain from us poor souls who were not as skilful.

THE FIRST RULE OF SURVIVAL is out on April 17th 2014, paperback and Ebook £7.99 by Constable Robinson. Of it, Philip Glenister says: "A jaw-droppingly brilliant crime thriller". I've just read over the first 100 pages and I have to agree with him.

Anyhoo. Here's a selection of more photos taken that night. All photos © Mike Stotter.

Paul Mendelson & Mark Billingham

Michael Carlson

James Gurbutt and Dome Wakeford (C&R)

Krystyna Green (Constable Robinson), Barry Forshaw & James Gurbutt

Philip Glenister & Sean Gilder

The Players

Other end of the table ...

And the winner is .... Sean!

All smiles at the end of a great evening

A handful of players


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