Positively Fifth Street

  • by James McManus
  • Narrated by James McManus
  • 3 hrs and 37 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.


What the Critics Say

"A delicious inside look." (Booklist )
"...like all true Beat writing, Positively Fifth Street is a joy to read." (The Los Angeles Times)
"The drama of high-stakes poker is inherently compelling - here is a rare opportunity to read an account by someone who can really write."(Publishers Weekly)
"Exhilarating chronicle....[as] tension-packed as any thriller." (The New York Times Book Review)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Ted Binion, World Series of Poker, Strippers

While the details of the Binion family lifestyle, Ted in particular, did hook me in, it was the considerable detail that portrayed the chaotic mindset of a poker player that kept me interested throughout the entire book.

As one wears their 'poker face' at the table, it's rather difficult to read what's beyond the mask of your fellow competitors. Are they actually that calm and collected? Or are they scrambling for any available sanity while confronting the decision of calling (or re-raising) a $160,000 bet?

McManus vividly describes the mindset and thought process as a poker player at the tables--something you definitely cannot see by watching the WSOP on television or video. Whether it's the continual switching of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hide or calculating pot odds, the book does have a lot to offer. A definite recommendation to an amateur/aspiring poker player. There's even some detail about the strip clubs!
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- Dave G.

Don't fold on this one!

The opening minutes took my breath away. Expecting to hear about the ins and outs of poker I was "treated" to a moment by moment retelling of a grizzly murder. I was repulsed but intrigued. Did I have the right book? By the time he revealed what was going on, McManus had me hooked. He was "playing" me, just like a poker player, luring me in for bigger and bigger stakes. "Positively Fifth Street" is about poker, but poker as a morality play. "Good Jim" and "Bad Jim" don't so much wrestle for control of the author's "soul" as they tease, entice, and pursuade with the book's opening horro set against the lure of that ultimate stack of cash - and a bracelet.

McManus' prose is superb and listening to the book provided a distinct pleasure that reading wouldn't have afforded. McManus draws the listener to the table with his voice, sometimes reading in a tone that sounds like a stone-cold gaze, sometimes softening, letting you feel the anguish and ecstacy of his experience. I was sitting right at the table with him and there were times when I found myself holding my breath, waiting for next card to fall.

I had no idea what to expect when I started "Positively Fifth Street," in fact, I just sat down to listen for a few minutes but in the end I had to play the whole game out. 3 1/2 hours after it started the story ended, and I could breathe again.
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- Mark

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-02-2003
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio