Positively Fifth Street

Published February 19, 2014 by Admin

Positively Fifth Street

New York magazine Harper's sends reporter James McManus to Las Vegas to cover the annual World Series of Poker, where McManus gets sucked into a world of Poker mania and murder...

In the year 2000, James McManus, a professor of literature and published novelist and poet, was engaged by fashionable New York magazine Harpers. McManus's mission was to cover the World Series of Poker, the largest set of Poker competitions in the world held annually in Las Vegas. The competition's finale is a $10,000 no-limit game of Texas Hold'em, one of the most popular Poker variants in the world today, where the winner walks home with a multi-million dollar prize. 

McManus, hardly a wealthy individual on the salary of a university professor, decides to spend his $4,000 advance fee to enter the competition held at the Binion's Horseshoe casino. "Positively Fifth Street" is an account of the events following McManus's decision to blow his fee on a dream to fame and fortune. 

With his $4,000 fee in the pot, McManus enters his first poker round and wins. His luck holds, until miraculously he finds himself one of the six finalists out of an initial pool of 532 hopefuls. In the early stages of the book, the reader is introduced to McManus's alter ego, called Bad Jim. Jim is a little like Dr Jekyll's infamous "other side" in the classic novel by R.L. Stevenson. McManus recognizes Bad Jim's hold on him as well as his irrational urge to self destruction, but he is powerless to stop him taking over his personality. 

In parallel to the Poker frenzy in which McManus finds himself battling with Bad Jim, there is another twist to the tale. Two years before the competition, Ted Binion, after whom the famous Horseshoe Casino was named, died under suspicious circumstances. The finger of blame was pointed at Binion's bimbo girlfriend, a former stripper, who was alleged to have conspired to murder the gambling tycoon along with her jock football lover. McManus succeeds in weaving these two disparate threads into one compelling story that keeps the reader engaged from the get-go. 

There is plenty in this book that will enthrall the Poker aficionado. A fan and player for many years, McManus describes the subtle game play that characterizes the world of top class Poker today. Using a brisk prose style, the story bounces along and will keep not only Poker players amused, but also those non-Poker persons who simply enjoy a cracking good story. 

Jim McManus is an Illinois professor of literature and professional Poker player. Despite his academic background, McManus continues to play the professional Poker circuit and has total winnings in excess of $740,000. A family man, McManus raises two young daughters with his second wife, Jennifer Arra. 

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