Jake, a struggling father and maths teacher, at risk of losing his job, bumps into an old friend Pete, now known as 'The Mako', a well-known poker player. Pete teaches Jake to play and Jake becomes obsessed with winning money, making a name for himself. Abandoning his wife Sally and two sons on Christmas Eve, after an angry outburst, Jake drives north to 'Casino City', and starts a new life for himself, playing poker every night. As Jake gets richer and richer, and eventually we see him playing poker against the 'The Undertaker'. Jake loses this game, in which he bets more than he has, and so he goes on the run to avoid being murdered.
Whilst homeless, Jake meets characters who help him, and ultimately save his life. Each of these characters in part provide what Jake needs as he makes his slow way back to the home and family he abandoned in his greed and selfish desire. There is a clear Christian message which runs through the novel, and it is a very moving one. Fatherhood and the idea of homecoming are key to the story.
The novel is centred around vice and just how much one man can lose because of it, ending with a pleasing recovery and discovery of God.