May 02, 2004

The Biggest Game in Town

Ok, now I feel stupid. A while back, I reviewed James McManus' "Positively Fifth Street", and I gave it pretty good marks. But I now realize that it was really just because it was the first poker book I ever read. I just finished reading a classic, "The Biggest Game in Town" by A. Alvarez, and I now see how derivative most recent poker books are from Alvarez.

This book was written in 1983, shortly after Jack Binion began running the World Series of Poker, and Alvarez is really the first (good) author to tell all those original stories about the history of Binion, Vegas and poker. If you read this and then McManus' book, you will see just how much McManus ripped off from Alvarez without really crediting him (even anecdotes as minor as the guy trying to sell photos for $75, then had better luck selling them for $100). I dunno, maybe McManus' book was meant as some kind of homage, but I never saw him say that anywhere.

I can safely say now that if you want to read only one book about the World Series of Poker (as a spectator) and the whole Las Vegas poker culture, this is the one. It's pretty much all about gambling (specifically, poker) without all the crazy non-gambling side stories that you get in other books. It recently came out in a new trade paperback edition that is worth looking for at the bookstore or library.

Posted by Observer at May 2, 2004 07:17 AM

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