Saturday, March 8, 2008

Five best books about gambling

Sports Illustrated's Richard Hoffer is the author of Jackpot Nation: Rambling and Gambling Across Our Landscape of Luck.

For the Wall Street Journal, he tagged five "books about gambling [that] hit the jackpot."

Number One on Hoffer's list:
Positively Fifth Street
By James McManus
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003

"Positively Fifth Street" didn't single-handedly precipitate the recent poker boom (the card-cam may have been the clincher), but let's agree that it contributed mightily. James McManus, sent by Harper's magazine to cover the 2000 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, ended up producing a classic of participatory journalism. His interlaced account of a sensational murder trial -- the victim had been the poker competition's longtime host -- probably gives the book more drama than required, and the author's ruminations on his own dueling egos (Bad Jim and Good Jim) can be annoying. But all you really need to know is that a professor from the Midwest boned up on Texas Hold 'Em and, in the most capricious and cutthroat tournament known to man, made it to the final table, took fifth place and beat the pros out of a quarter-million bucks.

Read about the other books on Hoffer's list.

--Marshal Zeringue