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Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion’s World Series of Poker

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I’ve been playing poker in some form for a few years now, mostly in small weekly games with friends. Late-night surfing got me a little hooked on the Travel Channel’s World Poker Tour and I’ve watched the ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of poker this year with a rabid fascination, but nothing got my juices flowing like James McManus’s “Positively Fifth Street” The story of the World Series of Poker and one man’s unlikely trip to the final table.

McManus went to Vegas in 2000 with an advance from Harper’s and a mission to write an article about the upsurge in women participants at the World Series. (Read the article Here) He turned his advance into a $10,000 entry fee and joined 511 other players, pros and amateurs alike, all vying for the big money. He made it to the 6 person final table in a remarkable few days.

The book though, is about far more than his feats at the poker table. McManus explores the murder of Ted Binion, purportedly done in by a stripper and her boyfriend whose trials were going on while he was sitting at the tables.

McManus is a tremendous writer (it comes as no surprise when he mentions David Sidaris is a personal friend), and he keeps each chapter alive with the struggle between good and evil. Will you be rooting for “bad Jim” (who keeps the author from folding hands he knows he should), or “good Jim” (who knows that playing by the book is the way to success)? Either way, it’s a great ride.

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About Moe Freedman

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Moe, very glad to have you with us – sounds like a great book.

  • http://www.makeyougohmm.com/ TDavid

    Been seeing the promos for the World Series of poker on TV and have to admit that it looks interesting.

    I almost set TiVO to snag it but decided against it. Something about watching poker being played is like watching … well, tennis or golf. Fun sports to play, but not enough action for watching on TV, IMHO.

    Can’t say that I’d want to read a book about one man’s poker conquest (and the world around him at the time), but this review is compelling in making me rethink this perspective. Nice job, Moe.