James McManus

Born in 1955, James "Jim" McManus is a poker player, teacher and writer. He is best known as the author of the book Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker. He has also written for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Harper's Magazine, and The New Yorker among others and has been the poker columnist of the New York Times and Card Player.

Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker, which was based on his trip to Las Vegas to cover the progress of the 2000 World Series of Poker and the death of Ted Binion. He used his advance from the book to enter a satellite tournament to win an entry into the Main Event. He outlasted all the other players, including professional Hasan Habib to qualify for the seat. He ended up making it to the final table, finishing in 5th place and winning $247,760. His final table included Habib (who he beat in his satellite), Chris Ferguson, and TJ Cloutier, whose book ("Championship No-Limit & Pot-Limit Hold'em by T. J. Cloutier and Tom McEvoy") he had read on the plane ride to Vegas in preparation for the tournament.

McManus pursued undergraduate degrees from Loyola University Chicago and University of Illinois Chicago. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974 and a Master of Arts degree in 1977, both from UIC. He teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as the history section of Harvard's new online poker university.

Besides being an acclaimed writer, McManus has also built up a respectable poker resume. He has 7 WSOP cashes and total WSOP earnings of $414,581, 4 WPT cashes, and total live tournament winnings (as of 2008) that exceed $740,000.


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You crippled me in event #19 when your suited K,9 made a straight on the river against my top two pair, aces and tens. I hated that, but I am loving your book. How did you end up anyway, and are you, or did you, play in the main event?

hagosmike on July 11, 2007

i just took you out in poker stars and won the tournament and i just realized you were james mcmanus. I just wanted to let you know im 17 years old and im very serious about playing. I live in vegas and plan to play wsop when im 21. I've been playing just about every day for the past three years. It was a pleasure playing with you. Cheers! ..hopefully we meet again?

thealpha1 on October 5, 2006

he called me with jack high, jack high ! LOL, this guy is the donkey of all donkeys, heEeeEeee haWwwWwww

DonkeySlayer on May 23, 2006


Great book (Positively Fifth Street), but i am puzzeled. I have just set the book down on page 320; how did the four of hearts come on fifth street if Hasan held the A4 of hearts? on page 319 "So when the fifth street card-what?-is the-what!-four of hearts."

igot2pair on May 14, 2006

James, where are you? I need to talk to you about a story I am trying to have published. [email]abhorrent1@hotmail.com[/email]

abhorrent1 on September 26, 2005

Jim, hope you come back to post on this site. i apologize for all the imbeciles that don't know what they are talking about. Keep up the good work. Annie Duke is a bitch.

Great Book You Wrote on September 20, 2005

Well, Mr. McManus, I don't know how often you check in on what's been posted, but all I can say is a heartfelt -Thank You!- for the gift that Positively Fifth Street is. It's absolutely one of my all-time faves, enthralling and elegant... and so damn mind-numbingly improbably on its surface. I didn't realize you'd earned yourself a de-facto membership in the Ellix Powers fan club, judging by some of the crap above. Funny. Yeah, he tilted you (for the one hand), but it was tilt-by-contagion caused by a distorted personality. I rather think your other achievements outweigh one loose call. I'd even send a shout-out to the DoppelEllix that's doing all the trash talking, but hey, one hates to reward that sort of immaturity with the attention it so sorely craves. Thanks again. This new transplant to the Chicago 'burbs would love to see a local appearance/signing opportunity posted somewhere, even if my copy of PFS is getting so doggy by now it might not hold the ink. I'm not an autograph chaser, but I'd make an exception here.

haley on September 12, 2005

blah blah blah blah blah...i only got through the first 3 lines then fell asleep of the last post

blah blah blah on August 29, 2005

Dear Sirs: A friend of mine in the writing industry told me about you possibly writing a history of Poker. Basically, I am going to paste in material I have sent out before. If it appears interesting to you, let me know. I'm not used to getting paid for writing, but I could certainly use a

10K bankroll. So, if that sounds reasonable or not. let me know. Whether you are interested or not, that's okay.

While the story below mostly relates to the reality of living a gambler's life, I do believe I can write some helpful gambling tips from my experiences on the street. I read a short chapter in one of David Sklansky's book one time--the one about how he won and lost over 180K in one month at the beginning of his career. And I read Mike Caro's book on tell's which in a nutshell is that people are reacting by "acting or not acting." You have to decide the reason for their action and that will give you the read you need on the hand. Other than that, most of my understanding of poker is street based. I played in Anchorage Alaska in 1981 with Perry Green and Pugsy Pearson and in 1982 with Mike Sexton at the beginning of his career.

But I have never been to Las Vegas. So, for what it's worth, here is the paste-in. Take care. David E. McCall

Dear Sirs, I wrote in 1995 a reality based booked on Crimes Against Children."

Many found it a great work, but I never got a break from OPRAH to put it in the limelight where it would make money.

Now, with the exploding interest in poker, I would love to write about my 26 years in "Underground" play spanning from the after hours clubs of Anchorage, Alaska to the barnyards of rural North Carolina. I played the entire year of 1982 with Mike Sexton down in Fayetteville, NC. I feel there should be some way in which I can profit from this 26 year experience. Check out this story I wrote around 1996 and updated last year. If you think we could collaborate on some opportunities here, that would be great. While I am not a sports bettor ( believe it or not, never one bet), from my barnyard forays, I have contacts with most of the biggest bookies throughout the state of NC over the past thirty years. There are some tremendous stories waiting to be told. Let me know what you think. Thanks for your time. David.

PS. Just two years ago, after building up for the second time in my career a 100K bankroll, I ran into the young and the "book--learned gurus" of modern poker and went busted again.

One of those events involved my playing "Heads Up" in a mini marathon of $5000 freeze outs with Chris Bell and his Dealer friend, Michael Gracz--The Kid. I was tipping The Kid $100 bills as he dealt freeze out after freeze out. This year, I see where he won First Place on the WPT Cruise Ship. Now, he has millions and I can't even find a $100 bill. But such is the life of a gambler. Hope the Kid learns his lesson early. I have been on top more than once, and right now, the bottom is no fun. Take care.

You may reach me at 252-333-9969 or email me at [email]benefactor15@yahoo.com[/email] if you think there may be any interest. Thank you David E. McCall/The Preacher


Two North Carolina Gamblers

This is a story of two men I know. This is the story of two men who spent the better part of the last three decades gambling within the borders of the state of North Carolina.

Ask them, and they will tell you where to find the action somewhere in North Carolina during any hour, any day of the week.

They both started adulthood with that boyish gleam in their eye--one obtaining his Master’s Degree to teach and the other being ordained to preach.

Their desire, however, centered on the quest for power and control. The ability to “beat the odds” as gamblers, to carve out lifestyles from the gambling arena proved to be the greatest challenge to their competitive spirits.

While poker games, black jack parlors and craps joints are numerous in North Carolina, the important scores and losses were made on trips to Atlantic City
by the Preacher and to the Bahamas, Las Vegas and Atlantic City by the Teacher.

Like the time in Atlantic City--the Teacher and two investors took $3000 to a craps table and cashed out over $100,000. The Preacher took $50 and cashed out over $5000 on several occasions.

These were important scores and were repeated on several trips. They were important; because they make up for the time the Teacher took a consistent

12-month loss totaling $100,000 or the Preacher’s lifetime loss nearing the same amount.

Both Gamblers can tell you how to win consistently; play less than three hours a day, place bets between 2% and 5% of a bankroll, use a winning method and NEVER EVER GO INTO DEBT.

They should know because they have broken all of these rules at some time. Both admit the “addictive” element of a gambler’s life makes “successful gambling” more marketable as a concept. Success is only realized by a gifted few able to overcome the addiction.

The Teacher told his employers to take the job and shove it in the early 1970’s. Between the large scores and his ability to run games with the “house
advantage,” he played the role of the Professional Gambler.

His handlebar mustache and quick wit irritated would-be gamblers who had to find other means to support their wagering activities. Like the time he

kept pit bosses and dealers in a Baccarat game wondering. He was claiming to be a “Wacky Tobacky” farmer from North Carolina. “ Just keep those cigars
coming, honey, and I’ll be sure to put you on my wacky tobacky mailing list” he called out.

Ironically, the Teacher had no time to use or produce wacky tobacky or fire water. “It gets in the way of gambling,” he would say. However, the cigarettes,

cigars, and smoke filled gambling parlors would soon show the tobacky indeed to be wacky. The Preacher credited the Teacher with being his mentor in the gambling industry, but it was the success of the Teacher that inclined the Preacher to avoid the pitfalls of the gambler’s life.

“I believe a patient man can be a consistent winner, but it’s awful tough, awful tough to overcome the odds and the addiction” the Teacher often commented.

Actually, the Preacher had already fallen into and crawled out of the pit several times. But late in 1993, the Preacher chose to reunite with his family

and place all of his financial resources in the hands of a financial shark, his wife.

By June 1994, he called to wish his friend well. He discovered the Teacher had also reached a cross-road in his gambling career. “Preacher, I’ll be cashing in the chips real soon. I have bone cancer. It’s those cigarettes. It just jumped over from my lungs to my bones. Age 53 seems awful young to die, but I have made my peace with the Lord, with my family at my side, and am ready to go.”

Unlike Clutch, who crashed into a tree, Baby Ray, who chewed of the end of a shotgun; Harold, whose heart gave out, or Squirrel who was backed over behind

a poker house; or Dexter who just did not wake up, the Teacher has lived longer and lived the life of a true gambler.

In the world of gambling, where nothing is certain, it is a sure bet that death will soon mark the cross-roads where these two gamblers part. But then
again, there’s always a chance, right?

ADDENDUM: The Teacher did live two years longer than the doctor’s had given him and the Preacher continued to fight his own battles to keep life from being

anything but routine. Preacher’s own $100,000 wins sometime after the Teacher’s death proved to be no more material than they had been for the Teacher,

himself. Although the Teacher had been known to carry around $250,000 at any one time in the trunk of his car, he died broke; and the Preacher knew that this too would likely be his own legacy if he continued the life of a true gambler.

In 2003, the Preacher emailed Mike Sexton, host of the World Poker Tour and PartyPoker.com to say “Hello, Mike, where have you been since you and the

Teacher and I played poker in 1982 in Fayetteville, NC.” Mike emailed back and said he remembered those good’ole days where you could play anywhere in NC

at any time, go broke in a game and still get a little help to tie you over to the next big game--like the time Preacher loaned Mike $200 and Mike promptly paid him back in a few days.

But Mike, too, had wised up and hung up his spurs, winning on the professional tour and now working in network television. As a true professional, he knows

the gambler must invest in other things, or the outcome is always the same--it becomes perilous--it destroys life-- and worst of all--you go broke!

Good luck to the Teacher at Heaven’s gates. Good luck to the Preacher for whatever waits--most likely his wife with a fist that shakes. And good luck to

Mike who made the most of his breaks. Good luck gamblers!!!

Author: David E. McCall/The Preacher:

Read other material by David E. McCall at Amazon.com.
Book: “Crimes Against Children--A Guide to Child
Protection for Parents andProfessionals” by David E. McCall.

benefactor15 on August 28, 2005

This guy is a joke. He sits at the table acting like he owns the goddam place. WHo the hell is he to be bringing out rules. Go to Hell McManus your books sucked

Unregistered on August 24, 2005

He Went On Tilt, That Was Funny, That Crack Head Busted Him Up. This Guy Is A Asshole, He Tells That Guy Hes Disrepecting The Game, Who The Hell Is He? Some Guy Who Wrote A Book That Pretty Much Sucked Except For The Part Where Binion Is Getting Killed

jackhigh on August 23, 2005

Guess That Sounded Kinda Harsh, The Book Wasnt Too Bad At Times

jackhigh on August 23, 2005

Just finished reading PFS for the fifth time. 'Nuff said. I read somewhere that you were writing a column on the game but I don't know where it appears. Will you enlighten me? If this is so, I would certainly be a devoted reader. Thank you!

billtrem on August 18, 2005

Hello, Mr. McManus - I heard on a local Chicago Radio Station (this past Sunday 8/14) that you and Ms. Annie Duke will be attending an Indiana Casino 4 a Poker Tournament "This" weekend, Is it Next weekend or did it just pass ?!. I would like to Buy-In ,if I didn't already miss it ?!.Sincerely, Mike Z. AKA "ANTE" .Chicago USA.

ante on August 15, 2005

Dear Mr. McManus, I just finished PFS and loved it. I teach literature and am always looking for good literature that my students would enjoy. Perhaps you know how I can get a classroom set of books? Also, I loved the way you incorporate your family life into the story. Such a great contast to the Murphy lifestyle! I noticed you dedicated the book to your son James but you did not tell the readers what happened. Will you some day? My condolences to you and your family. Janette from Michigan

Janette on August 13, 2005

Nigga called with Jack high.....LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!!

Ellix the Sexless on August 12, 2005

You Called With Jack High Everyone He Called With Jack High

Elix Skipper on August 4, 2005

youre disrespecting the game man

Unregistered on August 4, 2005

Mr McManus, big fan. I hear dthat you attended a local Rockford Charitable event last year, but unfortunately i was out of town. Will you be attending any other Rockford events this year? I'd love another opportunity to get my 5th Street autographed. All the best, Phil

Chitown Fan on July 29, 2005

you are the best poker author i have ever read

McManus on July 23, 2005

Good Jim/Bad Jim: Greetings from neighboring Deerfield, IL. I assume you still live in Chicagoland area? Loved Positively Fifth Street. Read if before I started playing Texas Hold 'Em. Read it again during play. I keep it close by, for inspiration. The Art Institute web page said you are on leave. Do you plan to return? Do you play any local boat/casino games? Cheers Good Jack/Bad Jack

pacecar86 on July 11, 2005

watched breaking vegas about your tournament in 2000. to me you opened the door a little for the little guy at the table

darin loveland on July 7, 2005

Did you ever write an article for Harpers? I've been trying to locate it, and unsuccessfully so far.

spexx on June 26, 2005

Mr. McManus, I am reading Positively Fifth street and I Positively love it. well written and very informative. However, towards the end of the Chapter called "Family, Career, Even Life" you talk about the hand that Hasan Habib called you on that you won the satellite with. (You had a pair of queens --spades and clubs and he had a K and 10 of diamonds). After the flop--which is a 7-9-jack (7-9 being diamonds), you describe the number of outs Hasan has as being only 12. By my count, you had 15 You do not address thepossibility of any 8's appearing and if one did Hasan would have had a Jack high straight (the 7-9 and Jack on the board, and the 10 in his hand--clearly an 8 would give him the straight and the winning hand. Is my math wrong or am I missing something? Great book and Congratulations on your success in poker.

sdudley on June 20, 2005

Dear Jim, my name is Greg Covotsos, i am the youger brother of Justin Covotsos, your former student and poker friend. I just wanted to tell you how i really enjoyed your book. I will be honest with ya, i have never read it, but i have listened to it on tape about 2 dozen times. I currently live in Las Vegas, and it is a tradition everytime I drive from Las Vegas to Chicago, or Chicago to Las Vegas, I listen to the tapes. The first time I listened to it was on my way out to Las Vegas for the first time. I really enjoyed it, but I really didnt get to appreciate the book as much until I lived a year in Vegas. I knew exactly what you were talking about at all times. For example, things like cheatas and the spirmanet rhino, pahrump, 3rd and carson, the bellagio poker room and much much more. Your narrating of the story is awesome. I loved how everything perfectly gets tied together. I always think if Hasan would have caught a diamond on the turn or river in the satelite how none of this would have ever even been possible. I could talk about PFS for hours and again I can;t stress enough how much I enjoyed it. I even like the tape version alot better because you tell it and narrarate it exactly how it is to be read. I look forward to taking your thoey of poker class one day as well. Right now i am a middle limit poker player in Las Vegas, working on my education at UNLV. Thanks for your time, I look forward from hearing from you back. Thanks again for a life chaging book, Greg Covotsos, [email]gcovoto@yahoo.com[/email]

Greg Covotsos on June 11, 2005

Mr. McManus, I just have began reading your book and can't put it down. I imagine you are very proud of your success. About the Ellix Powers incident, I also find his actions disrespectful to the game. His betting in the dark devaluing poker to a simple guessing game. I cannot see any strategetic value in putting ones tournament life on the line in such a manner. And while I am on the subject of things bad for poker..I find the program "TILT" abhorrent.I look forward to finshing you book and your future poker endeavours. :)

Steve Skye on June 4, 2005

mr. mcmanus, can you give us any further details on the new yorker article (i.e. a publication date, etc.). as a reader of the new yorker and your own writing i am greatly looking forward to reading it. saw on negreanu's blog that he is doing an interview w/the new yorker, w/lindgren...I assume that would be w/you. and finally, :) , what about the book i saw you are working on, as mentioned in the n.y. times book review blurb when you reviewed ss2 & harrington on hold-em. thanks and keep the literary take on poker coming!

bob on May 27, 2005

Just started playing poker over in England in a town on the south coast. Any tips would be much appreciated? Cam to this sight simply cos I've heard alot of good things about James' book and as soon as pay day comes, I intend on buying a copy...

nico hoon on May 26, 2005

How do you feel about the acquittal in the Binion murder trial?

Mark Turnbull on May 19, 2005

James is a good player but come on, he called with a Jack high

Unregistered on May 18, 2005

not to beat a dead horse...but i saw Ellix Powers as a character from the street. Im sure he sees people for what they are..not what others percieve them to be or they percieve themselves to be. Why should he care who T.J. Cloutier is. He was playin poker against poker players, his way...and man he did pretty good.

jambees on May 10, 2005

Guy embarrassed himself on espn. First by going after Powers (none of the other players seemed to mind Power's play). And second with his incredibly sexist opinion on women at poker tables. Newsflash: there are NO differences between men and women at a poker table. Seems like a strong poker player though

hater on May 9, 2005

Come on Jim... I loved yopur book and am a fellow New Yorker (West Coast Towers on Horatio street) But as my mom always tokld me and she wasn't a religious person "there for the grace of god go I...........) When was the last time you or I were homeless and made it to the final table? No criticism but would love to hear your retort to this post.peace

brettjames on May 9, 2005

wow you got a bunch of goofy fans...my advice to them is...quit reading and start playin..live, in as many casino tournaments they can afford.

jambees on May 8, 2005

I have the same name as u, woo hoo!

James McManus on May 3, 2005

Hola James, I just finised your book, Positively Fifth Street, though I am only 17. I loved it, plain and simple. Great story, even better that I didnt read the back cover first so until you had actually made the final table I did not know what was coming. I think your reaction to Ellix Powers was certainly not a bad one, when you get steamed at a card table, its hard to hold back all emotion. I think how he reacted, telling all of his friends outside and cackling over the fact that you went on tilt and called him with what was actually a queen high, was much more unprofessional than what you had done. You are a class act, and a great writer. Hope you publish another book, I'm anxious for more.

CKittle on April 30, 2005

Reading your book for the second time is even more enjoyable then the first. PFS will be read decades hence. The pompous donkey, the self righteous "staid reader" above, should be sent a copy to shove up his ample, arrogant, behind then, perhaps he will have "an anchor of the heart." To "serious readers" certain people are not "real", what a big feeling moron. Oddities and freaks make the world interesting. Make it go round. Being one myself I feel like challenging that man to a duel to restore the honor of freaks/oddities everywhere. Anyways eagerly await your next venture. The Jerry Quarry, of all people, comparsion is just to strange and bizarre to even comment on. Screw the critics let 'em bitch bout what their sis gives 'em for xmas next year while they lose their bowels laughing at the tele, how enjoyable it must be to hang with that crazy cowboy. Good luck, good cards, good/bad fun, and happy trails. dkn.

boonedog on April 27, 2005

Hello James,I read your book recently, and I enjoyed it. It reminded me a bit of Hunter without the long tangents.two questions:What's your usual routine for early tournament play?What's the most common tell you notice from novice players?If there's anyway you can CC your reply to my email, it would be greatly appreciated.take care,

Dave/ davidahenton on April 7, 2005

I am enjoying my first reading of your book. I have recently developed an interest in Texas Holdem (Who Has Not), which led me to your book, having rmembered past references to it. I have just read the chapter in which you mention Benet Acad related to a dream. I graduated from St Procopius in 1966 and my sister graduated from Benet about 8 yrs later. She is a realtor in Colorado and has been trying to write the GAN for many years. She is active in writers circles in her area. I was just curious if you were at Benet around the time she was. She knows a lot of writers and a lot about writers. Maybe she knows you. Though this book is not likely to be on her radar, other than she likes mysteries. If I get an Email back from you that you were at Benet around the time she was, I know she would enjoy the information. We grew up in Naperville.Thanks for a good read, and have a great day.

dougla7876 on March 30, 2005

Dear Mr McMaus, I was able to meet Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and all my other heros (with the exception of you) at NBC's taping of the heads up event at the nugget in Vegas this month. The one thing I like about Chris, yourself, and anyone else that respects the game and has class... is that it is still a game of chance and there is never any reason to be dis-respectful of the game or most importantly another human being. I found all the pros I met to be kind and professional. I have rounded for over 20years NL hold'em for the past year. I want to do what you did and have read all the books and play every night. The one thing that I hope I never lose touch with is human decency and respect. My parents taught me to walk across the tee-ball diamond and shake hands win or lose. Chris understands and I know you do also. I just wish everyone could remember what it is like to lose... especially when you see how someone acts when they win. Thank you for your book it is fantastic and congrats on all your wins and the money. But all that aside it is what you stand for and represent (values) that makes you a winner in any situation. Thanks, KentP.S. I notices you memorialize your son in the front of your book, however, there is no information about what happened... is there anything you can share? If not... I respect that.

River Rat ATL on March 23, 2005

Aloha Mr. McManus. Let me begin by stating that your book is my all time favorite piece of poker literature. I read a lot....with that said....I've only read two books twice in my life...PFS and "on the road" by Kerouac. PFS will probably be the first I read three times thru. I gave your book out to many friends as a Xmas gift as my "book of the year". I grew up in Montana, which made some many of the characters and stories that much more interesting. Any thought of adding "poker nation" by Andy Bellin to your reading list? I love watching the limit hold 'em final table this year on ESPN. I have it permanently on my Tivo. It had to feel amazing to crush ole Powers and his mediocre 7's when you showed him the "number of the beast".Finally, I'm a huge fan of Sedaris and Ira Glass...what are the odds that we'll see either one of them at a Final Table at this year's World Series?pH.

patch406 on March 15, 2005

Hello Mr. McManus. Almost finished PFS....50 pages to go. Just wondering what kind of reactions/comments you've gotten from professionals about the book and your strategy you used. Thanks for your time. Surly

surly on March 15, 2005

to canadian bacon: just so you know, i finished 7 out of 1300 @ the commerce. 135,000.

jack high on March 14, 2005

Hey Jim. Just finished PFS. Excellent work, my man; I loved how the whole book read like a Hold' em board-- intriguing flop (opening chapters), thrilling turn (the tournament itself), and shattering river (your honesty in the wrap up chapters). I just wanted to tell you, as a novelist myself, I thought the last line of the book was brilliant on multiple levels, but in particular this one: it comes off exactly like the river. You know it's over, you know where you stand, and you're absolutely blown away by the beauty of the game. Nice hand! (btw, I just found out about the film, that's awesome--been racking my brain who will play the lead-- Tom Hanks? A slightly grizzled Tom Hanks? Any thoughts? td

tommy the lobster on March 8, 2005

Hi Sachs74: thanks for your very kind words about PFS. The reading list is Alvarez's Poker and his Biggest Game in Town, Harrington on Hold'em, Super System 2, Read Em and Weep anthology, American Buffalo by David Mamet, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennesee Williams, "Full House" by David Sedaris, Theory of Poker by Sklansky

Jim McManus on March 7, 2005

Mr. McManus--Loved Positively 5th Street and the article that preceeded it. I made sure to give it to all of my poker buddies. Would you be so kind as to post the reading list from your literature of poker class?

sachs74 on March 4, 2005

Great book, looking forward to your next look into the world of poker.

k barnfield on March 2, 2005

To jack high. I cannot believe you would insult Jim McManus' playing ability and question that he knows what he's talking about. Have you made it to the final table of the Main Event. Also, don't tell me it was a fluke, he made at least one other WSOP final table that i know of. Possibly more. Besides, finishing 5th in a field of hundreds of the best players alive requires a lot more then luck. So go back to playing your 10 buy in games and talk trash when you finish high in the money in the WSOP. Jim is a great writer and a great player. That's all.

Canadian Bacon on February 28, 2005

A few words to James:We'll begin with the good. I received "Positively Fifth Street" as a Xmas gift from my sister. The portions of the book about your experiences at the table were riveting. You did your job as author, perfectly--you bled on the page. Thank you for allowing me to feel every emotion within you. Now we move on to the bad. Normally, I never would have read enough of your book to reach the "good." The only reason I did is because I knew my sister would grill me on the gift, so I kept reading. It wasn't the writing that put me off--you know you can write. It was characters. I know that Binion, Murphy, and Tabish were real, but to the serious readers of the world, they weren't. How could anyone identify with such oddities? Without an anchor to the heart, the staid reader closes the book. They aren't interested in freak shows. Finally, it's time for the ugly. I came upon this site on a search to find out if Good Jim had written anything of substance lately. I decided to write this micro-tome after I found out that you were the gonzo numbskull who talked on the sanctity of the game. I'm sorry James, but when I heard you in that infamous TV episode, I laughed until my bladder let go. What you were you thinking? "Sanctity" and "Poker" in the same sentence? How many people have in history have lied, cheated, and died over a poker game. How many children have gone hungry because some parent decided to plunge their paycheck into the sanctity of the game. So, I guess there's Good Jim, Bad Jim, and Pluto Jim. Please James, come back to earth. We both are comfortably into our fifties, and our genes aren't that good. Make that u-turn and come back to earth and find your dreams again. What happened to that need to reach the pinnacle--the one that ends with a Pulitizer or a Nobel? Especially at this time in your life, don't be seduced by that game. Do you really want to be rich, famous, and alone?Thanks for the opportunity to speak to you. There's no need to reply. I won't be back. All the best. R.

publisher on February 22, 2005

i don't like your book. it's pretty boring and has nothing with the "meat and potatoes" of poker. I guess I am use to reading poker books of higher caliber and not books about the binions, etc. I think before someone creates a book they should really know what the **** they are talking about. I mean I could have written a similar book when I cracked my first home game at the age of 19. Seriously, if someone is going to write a book on poker, please don't go on a jack high tilt. If you truly cardplayer (not just play cards), please analyze that hand over and over again before you even touch a pen.

jack high on February 20, 2005

Hello Mr. Mcmanus,i Understand You Have Connections With The Wpt Or Any Other World Poker Association.i Ellix Powers Say To You Or Them That Talk Is Cheap.i Think Your Like Jerry Quarry.any Black Man That Can Walk The Walk And Make The Walk,you Want To See Fail,but In This Day And Age You Have To Cover Yourself By Apologizing To Me By Patronizing Me.i Wish You Would Contact Me With Any Association That You Have In Poker And If They Will Put Up A Purse I Will Play You Any Time Anywhere,and I Will Give The World A Show Better Than "the Thrilla In Manilla".now Go Ahead And Call That Bluff !!

ellix-poker-academy on February 20, 2005

Dear Mr. McManus,You probably cringe everytime someone reads PFS and tells you the book inspired him or her to take up poker or gambling. While I am not entering tournaments or casinos, the book has more eye-opening in understanding people in general, their motivations and various philosophies. As a spine physician, understanding people as it relates to their joys and pains are critical to caring for symptoms. Thanks for the insights. I would like to thank the person that first mentioned your book to me with an autographed hardcopy. I am in the Chicago area. Please email me with instructions. Thanks. Good Luck with more books and tournaments. Mark

Mark/ changspine on February 14, 2005

Mr.Manus that was a brilliant read on TJ and a bold call by you with just a jack kicker. Also your book filled a gap that needed to be filled in the poker world keep up the good work and good luck.

WildeyeJack. on January 29, 2005

Dear Jim,I hope to play Ellix Powers someday and steal a large portion of his bankroll. This would allow me the opportunity to offer him a stake so he can play US in a WSOP event of OUR choice and tear himdown again! (The money would be well worth it!) This guy is a punk who thinks he's right up there with Doyle, Howard and Slim. He's NOT. I only wish that YOU had a better set of hole cards to have taken him out yourself! If you ask ME, I think the years he spent on the street left him starving for ATTENTION more than anything else...

Leo McDermott on January 25, 2005

Mr. McManus, I just watched the wpt event that you just called ellix powers and you were right when you said ellix got to you. Wpt only shows the part where you say he disrespects the game. At first, I thought you were rude and I figured you were out of line by saying that when he betted in the dark but since now I read on, disrespecting David Chiu is a no no. Even disrepecting you is a no no also, both of you are well rounded and respected players, the difference with Ellix is that he didn't care if he came in 6th but that is him, I would definately be upset with winning 40,000 if I had a chance to win a lot more than that. Hope you get more success and hope to read your next book. Enticing!

Unregistered on January 23, 2005

Jim, It may be redundant I know but after just finishing your book I have to tell you how much I loved it. I can't help but feel compelled to write. With all the exposure poker is getting now it just seems like sky's the limit as far as just how popular it's going to get. After seeing you on T.V. again I began to wonder just how your life has changed since WSOP. Do people recognize you everywhere? and do you find you have MORE or LESS family time as a pro? I lived the WSOP through your book and one day wouldn't mind taking a shot myself...thanks for being an inspiration.P.S. A PFS movie does sound like a great idea to me.-poker canuck

poker canuck on January 18, 2005

Jim, I thought you were a "poker snob" on WSOP, but I have heard so many pros complain about the heavy TV editing, and hearing your side of the story, I now want to read your book! Unfortunately, they made you look bad on tv, but it did make for good ratings. Maybe you can write a book on how tv distorts the poker world. Good luck in 2005 and beyond.

Jersey Joe on January 2, 2005

Mr. McManus I tried this through email as well but in case it doesn't find it's way to you I'm going to post here too. Others, I'm sorry for wasting your time. My name is Robert Biedrzycki and I'm an MFA candidate in the creative writing program at Columbia College Chicago. I'm currently enrolled in a Creative Non-Fiction course and one of our projects involves contacting a creative non-fiction author you admire and doing a presentation on them. I chose you and was hoping that I might be able to do a quick Q & A with you through email. Most of my bio research I've done through reading your work, I was just wondering if you might be able to spare a few minutes of your time to speak with me about your writing process. Once again sorry to take up post space with this request people, and Mr. McManus thank you for your time.Bobby

Robert Biedrzycki/ Villagekid on January 1, 2005

Hey Jim,I was your student at SAIC for a couple of years, '86-'87. Recently I saw on a friend's blog that she'd read PFS by you. I've been meaning to pick it up ever since. I've been loving the hell out of watching hold 'em tourneys on TV for the last few years but seeing you tonight on a rerun of the above-mentioned game was a real treat. Great to see you again after all these years and still kickin' ass. A great '05 to you and yours. -john

John Whisler on January 1, 2005

Mr. M, has there been any consideration on your part about possibly turning the book into a film? I am currently working on a script that I have run by numerous people, and have gotten great feedback. It's based loosely on a true story, an I suppose now would be the time to get it out there. Poker is at the highest point I have ever seen it. Best wishes for a healthy, wealthy, and wise new year...Matt

abhorrent1 on December 31, 2004

Happy New Year, oh my brothers! Bilk, Eldan, Bacon, GMan, Big SLick, Norm, Poker Lover: Straight flushes in 2005! Jim McManus

Unregistered on December 30, 2004

Mr. McM,I'll try again, sorry.All the very best to you and your family this Christmas and many to come. At 67 I like to think I've been around the horn and seen more than most. I've been going to Vegas for over thiry years, met Benny and Jack Binion and been comped by both so please take it for what its worth. I've read your book three times, two from the library and finally I bought one for reference. I appreciated your candor and insight as well as visiting with your family through your prose. You are a lucky man and a good story teller. I find no fault with you in squaring away anyone at a table that doesn't respect our game, any game or institution, that has a code that that serves the whole. After all not only have you you've proved yourself as a written spokesman but you've paid your dues as a committed player. Good on you. Thanks for many hours of enjoyment,lessons well taken and mistakes hopefully averted. BK.

bilk on December 29, 2004

hey jim i still dont have the fullstory on your next book, what is it about again

eldan on December 28, 2004

Just wanted to say that you're article for Harper about the WSOP was an inspiration to me not only as a poker player but as a hockey player and an individual as well. One other thing, how scary was it to have TJ staring you down for the first time?!

canadian bacon on December 25, 2004

im soo glad you called that elix powers out. you were absolutely right in doing so. i was soo happy to see u take more than a 100k in chips from him with trips a few hands later. love the book. keep up the good work

poker lover on December 24, 2004

Jim, love to see that you're hangin' with the masses. happened to come across this site...isn't it crazy this thing called POKAH? to the fans: this man wrote the book on poker...but his showdown with ellix is what he'll be remembered for!

big slick in nyc on December 8, 2004

Lol, this is the only person who hasn't had a whole thread of smack talking, consider yourself special.:)

gman on December 7, 2004

Thanks for the kind words about PFS to Lucky Le Ru, Matt, and B MED. . . . Calling Ellix with queen high was obviously a blunder on my part; he got to me, plain and simple. . . . Mr. Silverman's suggestion that I can't beat one of the two home games I play in is absolutely true. The Thursday night Glenview Donkey Festival, sometimes known as the Juan Valdez Local, in which we play selective showdown for what amounts to pennies and nickels given the income of the players, is the one I can't beat. Another reason I can't beat it is that Mr. Silverman's blase dealing style rattles me so much that I often can't concentrate for three or four hands after he deals. I once called him down with a nine high, for example, and he showed me a bleeping straight flush.

Jim McManus on December 5, 2004

Mr.McManus, I really enjoyed your book, but i heard a rumor that you cant beat your home game. In fact, I heard it is the toughest game in the midwest and have heard that it rivals the biggest games at bellagio. Is this true, and do you beat the game? Kudos.

nsilverman1 on December 4, 2004

MR. McManus what do you think about Sandra Murphy being found NOT Guilty in her second trail? I was wondering if you had anymore info about the second trail? It didn't get to much tv coverage with the Peterson case going on. I also read your book this past summer. It was awsome. I read it in 3 days. I would buy your next book in a heartbeat. Thanks for taking all of us inside the WSOP.

B MED on December 1, 2004

Mr McManus why did you call Ellix Powers on the river with Jack high? I mean Queen high. It was obscure, I thought it was situation you had to fold

Enkhbat on December 1, 2004

Jim, I just read your book. I read it straight through in a day and a half. It was very good. I reccommend it highly and enjoyed it very much. It takesalot of balls to risk it the way you did, I know, I risk it constantly. Best wishes, matt.

abhorrent1 on November 26, 2004

By the way, ellix powers is a dickhead. I've played him (literally) at the bicycle club.

abhorrent1 on November 26, 2004

Mr. McManus (which is how you address someone you don't know) - I'd like to hear your comments on the verdict of Murphy and Tabish's retrial. And was also curious as to whether you were involved in any aspect of the second trial based on your research and the success of the book.

BobbyC on November 22, 2004

JimI have read your book and thought it was on a par with Tony Holdens which got me into poker 10 years ago...One question...do you ever play in england? if so when?i'd love to buy you a beer next time you are over...Lucky Le Ru

Luckyleru on November 18, 2004

Jim,Did you see the NY Times today. If not, pick it up. It mentions the Binion Case. Enjoy.ddaly - Bronx, NY

dfrombx on November 3, 2004

You can get the article on nytimes.com!

dfrombx on November 3, 2004

I saw it, D. Daly. Best way to follow it, of course, is web sites of Las Vegas Sun and LV Review Journal.To Kevin: I sometimes play PLO at Harrah's, but usually it's home games in Park Ridge and Glenview, or flying to WPT tournaments.

Jim McManus on November 3, 2004

Mr. McManus - do you hit Harrah's or Trump's in Indiana or stick to your private game in chicago? Are you strictly a Hold 'Em player, or do you delve into other games? --Kev in Chicago

Kevin_Bickram on November 2, 2004

Thanks for the VERY kind words, Bud. I'll be at most of the WPT, PPT and WSOP events, so look for me if you happen to play in any of them.

Jim McManus on October 31, 2004

Jim -I am not quite finished with your book. I just couldn't wait any longer to see if I could find your email address somehow, and stumbled across this site in the process. It's hard to know where to begin. First of all, I wish I had known that your book covered far more than just the two topics of the WSOP and the murder trial. If I did, I would have read it a LOT sooner. I just wanted to tell you that I have read a LOT of books on a LOT of different subjects in my 55 years, and your book is one of the best I have ever read, in any genre, by anyone. Your style is unlike anyone else's (of whom I am aware) and I absolutely love the way you go off on a tangent, deal with a variety of subjects, then bring it all back together to make your point. That you are well-educated, and well-read comes across without cramming it down the reader's throat, and the way you write directly to your reader hits just the right mark, as far as this reader is concerned.You come across as a genuine human being, as well as an excellent author, and I hope, at some point to say hi in person.I doubt that we will meet in a final table anywhere, although I do try to play some poker every time I get to Las Vegas. Holdem has done a lot to kill my favorite games of 7 stud high/low and omaha high/low, but I will keep a lookout for you, just to be able to say hello in person.I look forward to your next book with much anticipation. Good luck to you! Bud IzenKeizer Oregon

bizen on October 30, 2004

Fan Man: my book goes into a lot of detail about the first hour of the WSOP big one, and about many other hours thereafter. The splurge or the boom caught just about everyone by surprise, but the power of well-made television, especially the WPT's use of the lipstick (or Lipscomb) cameras, has probably made the biggest difference, I think.

Jim McManus on October 26, 2004

he set out to get you on tilt and thats exactly what he did dont you see the logic in raising in the dark phil helmuth rights about it in his book play poker like the pros.

you guys are tarts on October 20, 2004

yo jimmy what up g unit. almost finished your book, have like 90 pages to go, i wanna know what it was like playing the first hour in the big one i also wanna know what you think about the big poker splurge thats been going on. thank dude

fan man on October 15, 2004

Hate to sound like a broken record...enjoyed watching you play with style and class at the 7 card stud final table...really enjoyed your book a lot (finished reading it last month)...looking forward to future publications or novels...wondering if you teach a "summer" course for science of poker...would love you take it sometime before staring my career...other than that, congratulations on your success and hope that "Higgins" understands your poker skills today...best of luck in the future

Gannon McCaffery on October 12, 2004

Hey Jim, Just finished your book, fantastic! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and watching you in action in the WSOP...so what if you called with a Jack High? Keep up the good work.

You're Awesome on October 8, 2004

Thanks, guys. I really, really appreciate the kind words about the book. Most book-writing isn't terribly fun, but that book sure was, and it makes me very happy that people seem to enjoy themselves reading it.

Jim McManus on October 5, 2004

Im in the middle of reading "5th Street" after having read the screenplay, and I'm loving it. Perfectly woven. I have a friend that considers the book to be the poker players bible, he's playing tournaments in Europe quite successfully. I want to gift him with a signed first edition copy as a surprise. Are there any fans here willing to sell theirs?

bluffer on October 3, 2004

Just got done with '5th Street', did some google searches out of curiousity and wound up here. Good to know your still involved in the poker scene Jim, Im really looking forward to some more poker works from you in the future. Its also really cool to see you had that 5th place finish this year in Limit, I saw the standings of that event and noticed that TJ placed behind you. The student takes down the teach again :)Just wanted to express yet again how much I enjoyed the book!

jaslomba on October 3, 2004

hey jim, really enjoyed the book, positivly fifth street. so much more enjoyable than all the how to books combined.

roaddog on October 3, 2004

To the Kranz: thanks for your kind words, my brother. My wife heard about the incident long before it was in the book, because (1) I told her about it as soon as I got home from that trip, and (2) she is the first reader of the early drafts of my articles and books. Her first comment was, "I thought that we had--that you had more class than that," and it went downhill from there for a while. But then she began to forgive me.

Jim McManus on September 23, 2004

Mr McManus,I believe you were correct, Powers was way out-of-line. WSOP editing of the final table made it sound like you were on his ass about betting in the dark...some people should realize that those final tables are not only 1 hour long, they take a long, long time and if he was doing HALF of the things through the final table than what is shown on ESPN then he was MORE than out of line. My hats off to you for taking the high road and acting like a professional player!!!!!!I liked your book...next year @ WSOP 2005, I'll buy the lap dances ...lol

Pokrstudent on September 23, 2004

Mr. McManus, you seem like a class act to me. Good luck in your writing and your poker. (Any new literature in the works?)

thekranz on September 23, 2004

I have an assignment now from the New Yorker to cover the huge game between Andy Beal and Team Brunson. I'm also writing about collusion in tournaments today, cheating on Mississippi riverboats and Badlands saloons, and the history of poker in general.

Jim McManus on September 23, 2004

Mr McManus, i thought you were right on in telling that fool off. He was acting like an idiot and pissing me off just watching him. Your book is amazing, not just for your story but the writing and interweaving of the murder...fantastic. It was great to see you at another final table. (By the way, what did your wife say when she read the book and found out you weren't entirely honest about the lap dance?)

thekranz on September 22, 2004

called me with a jack high!!!

elix powers on September 22, 2004

I just want to make clear to everyone that I didn't tell Ellix Powers he was disrespecting the game simply because he bet in the dark a couple of times. He'd just spent two hours aggressively taunting the likes of T.J. Clouier and David Chiu, two of the best players ever. (No, he wasn't taunting me, in case you were wondering.) He also left the table during the action several times, muttering to himself, claiming anyone who wanted to finish higher than sixth was crazy or greedy. He also was betting in the dark on a regular basis. The last thing I wanted was to get into a beef at a televised WSOP final table, of course, but anyone who was there can tell you Ellix was 186,676 miles out of line.

Jim McManus arramc on September 21, 2004

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