Positively Fifth Street – James McManus

Sep 09

I chose this book by James McManus for my brother Casey because we both love the poker.  I then went Indian giver/ worst sister ever and took the book back after he read it.  In my mind I am the world’s greatest poker player.  In reality, I have no poker face.More specifically…I have no poker neck.  One fateful Saturday night in Bozeman, Montana I was deep into a game of Texas Hold Em.  I was dealt pocket 10s.  Two more 10s came on the flop.  My friend Allison folded when she looked over and saw the veins in my neck pulsating like a jackhammer.

I was looking forward to reading a book from an inside perspective on the World Series of Poker. The book delivered that and so much more.  The author’s journey runs concurrently with the Ted Binion (Horseshoe) murder trial.  The players in this trial (Sandy Murphy, Rick Tabish, and Ted Binion) make Melrose Place look like a Sunday School Bible Class.

Mr. McManus also possesses a cutting sense of humor and an ability to introduce this reader to his family that made me feel like I knew them. His daughter will say, “Good Girl, Dat.”  He will bring this charming saying up at hilarious junctures.  If he is having especially inappropriate thoughts, he will throw in a , “Bad Girl, Dat!”  I am not sure why, but this kills me.  I always like to steal something from a book and work it into my personal lexicon.  The honor here will go to one Mrs. Betsy Madden (the author’s maternal grandma)  who would chastise the kids with this simple statement:  “I will hit.”  This line was read at 3:00 am after being out too late with Casey.  I laughed so hard I teared up…all the while trying to shut myself up so as to not awaken Casey or his roommates.  I love uncontrollable laughter.  Grandma Betsy also liked to assert that everyone was “on their own”  as far as dropping deuces at the family home went, which, at the time, was sans plumbing.

I loved the behind the scenes looks at the WSOP.  Casey and I track it online and on ESPN every year.  Mr. McManus focused on the female players.  The author at one point ends up at a table with Annie Duke, now more famous for her role on The Celebrity Apprentice. The history of cards was interesting.  The Science of poker was not.  I sincerely enjoyed learning about the inception of the WSOP.

My idea of a perfect book: sports, (poker is a sport, right?) sex, weird ways to murder someone,  Montana references, wordplay, and Jesus prevails.  I loved this book.

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