Monday, August 09, 2004

Bennet's "King of a Small World" reminded how much I liked Jim McManus' article "Fortune's Smile", a hard-to-read version of which can be found here. You'd be better off buying "The Best American Sports Writing 2001" anthology where the article (originally published in Harper's) appears, a collection I highly recommend even for those not interested in sports writing, by the way.

McManus' book "Positively Fifth Street", was unfortunately not half as good as the article, I think mostly due to his introducing a parallel storyline on the murder trial of Ted Binion. I think he would have been better off concentrating on the World Series of Poker, but perhaps he (or an editor) thought poker would only have a limited audience. As it turned out, I suspect that the elegance of "Fortune's Smile" introduced many people to Texas Hold `Em, me among them. McManus, an amateur player, entered the World Series of Poker, played against some of the toughest players in the world, and came out winning more than a quarter million dollars.

If you like"Fortune's Smile" and/or "Positively Fifth Street" , check out an unaired adaptation on the "This American Life" site that's also worth a read, an interview with McManus at PokerPages, and an article by McManus on playing in the Poker Million Tournament, "Feeling It on Man." McManus would later recycle "Feeling It..." into an Esquire article (registration required), "Further Adventures in Poker", which should be read in conjunction with "Fortune's Smile" as the flip side of poker luck...

"I hocked up a chunk of acid-washed prawn from the back of my right nasal passage, wrangled it onto my tongue. It was something, all right: the booby prize for the first Poker Million. Launching it dawnward, I leaned out and watched as it spiraled and bobbed through the strata of breeze, down and down and down, back and forth, before mingling again with the sea. My World Series showing had been a fluke, and now everyone was going to know it. Including expenses I was out about $12,000, having blown a great chance to win $1.5 million. I had seventeen hours of airports and coach seats ahead of me before I could hug all my girls. We were going to have a new president. "

It's worth noting that McManus grossed over $86,000 in 2003 playing poker.

1 comment:

Ignatious said...

thanks for the link!

love the photo of curly staring down the wildlife...