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

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

Written by James McManus

Narrated by James McManus


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

Written by James McManus

Narrated by James McManus

ratings:
4/5 (15 ratings)
Length:
3 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Apr 1, 2003
ISBN:
9781593971151
Format:
Audiobook

Description

In the spring of 2000, Harper's magazine sent James McManus to Las Vegas to cover the World Series of Poker.

But when McManus sets foot in town, the lure of the tables is too strong: he proceeds to risk his entire Harper's advance in a long-shot attempt to play in the tournament himself. Only with actual table experience (he tells his skeptical wife) can he capture the hair-raising subtleties of poker that determines the world champion. The heart of the book is his deliciously suspenseful account of the tournament itself — the players, the hand-to-hand, and his own unlikely progress in it.

A Macmillan Audio production.

Publisher:
Released:
Apr 1, 2003
ISBN:
9781593971151
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

James McManus is a novelist and poet, most recently winner of the Peter Lisagor Award for sports journalism. He teaches writing and comparative literature at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, including a course on the literature and science of poker. He is the author of Positively Fifth Street.

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Reviews

What people think about Positively Fifth Street

3.9
15 ratings / 10 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Story of the 2001 WSOP, with a little murder/S&M, and a side of history of the game. The unlikely writer makes the final table. Great story.
  • (3/5)
    First of all, I have to say that I don't know how to play poker, so large swathes of this book went sailing over my head. It opens with a gory murder reenactment, also not something I fancy. Those two things notwithstanding, this was a solid and entertaining listen. I didn't like McManus' habit of referring to himself as "Good Jim" and "Bad Jim". Every time he did so I found myself rolling my eyes. It was quite a window into a totally foreign lifestyle. Enjoyable.
  • (4/5)
    not at all interested in poker. so the 1/2 star is because he kept me reading/listening.
  • (2/5)
    This is a perfectly good book. I enjoyed the bits about Ted Binion's murder in the beginning, but lost interest when McManus began recounting his poker hands in excruciating detail.
  • (4/5)
    Non-fiction account of the author's trip into the World Series of Poker and subsequent Cinderella story into the final stages. Also covers (semi non-fiction) the murder / trial of Ted Binion, the guy credited with starting the World Series of Poker and the owner of Binion's Horseshoe Casino.
  • (3/5)
    I couldn't care less about the Ted Binion murder trial. I hate McManus's stupid mix of chattiness and "cleverness". I despise all his flawed analogies and mixed metaphors. I detest his sport writer prose (and the rest of it, too, come to think of it). I got tired of his continual comparing of Sandy Murphy to every woman he met. Give it a rest! It's not Clever! It's not Insightful! But I loved the chapters that discussed actual poker, actual hands. More, please.I admit, there were a few moments where I laughed out loud and it added a book to my Amazon wish list ("The biggest game in town", A. Alvarez)
  • (4/5)
    A decent read if McManus does seem awful full of himself. Heck, making the final table though, I guess I'd think I was heaps smarter and cooler then I am too. Not that McManus doesn't have a way with words, but when you feel the need to namecheck Joyce more than once in a book about poker and a Las Vegas murder trial, you're trying too hard. Overall, I'd rate this just a pip below Alson and Dalla's biography of Stu Ungar.
  • (5/5)
    A real fun look into vegas and the main event at the World Series.
  • (3/5)
    This book ocvers the Binon murder trial and the 2000 WSOP. All taking place at the same time. I much preferred the poker over the murder. But the murder stuff was interesting in the fact that the murder occured on my birthday in 1998 and the trial was taking place the last time I was in Vegas....in fact when at the courthouse the media was gathered outside under the tent...so I definately know the scene. It's just that the murder portion of the story wasn't new to me and didn't hold my interest.
  • (5/5)
    If you can sit through hours of ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker without blinking, this is a great book to pick up. It weaves the story of the murder of the son of the former owner and founder of Binion's Casino in Las Vegas with the author's first-hand experience as a participant in the World Series.Switching back and forth between the facts of that case and his own travails at the table, James McManus is able to effectively engage the reader in both, and provide twists and turns throughout.McManus pulls the reader in immediately with a description of the state's attorney's version of the murder of Ted Binion, son of Benny and one of the heirs to his father's casino. With engaging dialogue and blunt detail, McManus rehashes a brutal slaying involving a stripper, her newly acquired, easily manipulated, greedy-goon boyfriend, heroin, ropes, handcuffs, and just a dash of sex on the side. And this is only the first chapter.After a whirlwind of events describing Ted Binion's demise, we are pulled back into the quiet world of a middle-aged college professor living in the Chicago suburbs, playing poker simulators on the computer and reading into every poker manual ever published as his children bound into the room and his wife readies dinner after a hectic day for both. Such is a slice of the author's life, and one portrayed with refreshing candor. Here we learn of McManus' intent: To take the advance he was granted for this book and go to Las Vegas to research the events behind the slaying of Ted Binion. While he's there, McManus plans to enter the Holy Grail of poker tournaments -- the one players in weekly home games drool about, dream about, even begin putting money to save the $10,000 required to buy-in. It begins as a lark ("Let's see how far I can go"), but ends up swallowing the author, and his readers, in a complex journey equally as enticing as that of Ted Binion's last days.The transitions between the juxtaposed stories are harsh and blunt, but that is in keeping with McManus' style. The reader at times can be frustrated with ending on a particularly challenging hand of poker for the author or waiting to see the last card, and immediately being thrust back into Ted's World, knowing they must wait through a chapter about Binion before getting back to the shuffle-up-and-deal action. The same can also be said for vice versa: Learning about a key piece of evidence the state has found, then immediately wandering into a satellite tournament with the author, ready to turn $1,000 entry into a $10,000 Golden Ticket for a seat in the Main Event.As the book progresses, McManus' astounding climb in the tournament beings to overshadow the events behind the murder of an heir to "The birthplace of the World Series," as well it should. The author's self-deprecating wit and humility, shown in his true astonishment that he has lastest as long as he has in a tournament filled with pros, helps his connection with the reader. His candor and asides about his own superstitions and driving forces, and those of his competitors, seem to say "anyone can sit here in this seat and get as close as I have to more than $1 million."As McManus edges closer to the final table of the ten players left in a field that started with more than 4,000, the book approaches two separate-but-equal climaxes, and neither disappoints. Filled with nods to other poker playing advice from the pros and their books, it's easy for someone caught up in the poker craze to identify with this author while at the same time learning the true story of a murder they may have even known took place. I pulled this book out of my backpack to give to my brother on the three-hour flight to Las Vegas; he was so engrossed by the time the wheels touched down, he had to read more chapters when we got back to the hotel each night. He was still finishing it on the flight back.Definitely recommended reading. You might learn a thing or two, as well.