Thursday, May 27, 2010

JayRo Reads Books: Cowboys Full - The Story of Poker

Cowboys Full - The Story of Poker
By: James McManus
Published: 2009

Writing the histoy of poker is a massive undertaking. Its origins seem obvious, though those involved in the origins are long past, and not many thought to record their history. James McManus decides to workaround this difficulty by instead choosing to argue a thesis instead: Poker is America's game. This approach helps and hurts his book.

By defining a thesis, McManus allows himself to concentrate on some distinctly American topics which are tangentally related to poker. While he weaves the stories back into his narrative, they do make the reader wonder what they have to do with the "story" of poker. This is the weakness of the book.

Fortunately, the thesis also helps the book, as it allows McManus to explore a lot of different topics in the form of essays, especially at the end of the book. His pieces about poker etiquette and AI playing poker were fun to read. His comparisons of Civil War strategy and poker strategy were inspired, if not expected.

Naturally, the piece about the UIEGA is incredibly out of date, and I'm not sure why McManus spent so much editoralizing it when he had to know that the situation would drastically. But even with that weakness, the book was fun to read.

I recommnd reading this book if you are interested in a great book about poker. Just don't expect it to be a true history of poker.

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