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Ghosts at the Table: Riverboat Gamblers, Texas Rounders, Internet Gamers, and the Living Legends Who Made Poker What It Is Today Hardcover – April 22, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
The second age starts much later, with the heyday of the Texas road gamblers in the 1950s. This is a short era that is followed by the Las Vegas era, which symbolically began with the first World Series of Poker held at Binion's Horseshoe in 1970.
The final age of poker is the current boom, fueled equally by television and the Internet, which most people would date to 2002.
It's a good division, though it neglects the "rank and file" of poker in some ways. The thousands of backroom poker games that sustained the "sport" during the first half of the 20th century, for example, are nowhere here. There's good reason for that-they were mostly undocumented, and little heralded. For good reason. There is nothing exceptional or heroic about them. But history is rarely exceptional or heroic.
The book properly begins with Wilson checking into the Bullock Hotel in Deadwood, South Dakota, and learning that a real ghost lives there-the spirit of Seth Bullock, the original proprietor, who frequently shows his disgust over the current staff's lassitude by shaking the odd plate or turning on a random blender.
That's when I realized that the ghosts of the title aren't a metaphor: for Wilson (and for poker players) the legends of the past really are ghosts, who still have an incorporeal presence and can still do us harm.Read more ›
This anecdotal form of writing is most interesting as Des Wilson takes us through the portals of moments when ghosts are visited in many poker parlors as he tries to imagine what it was like to have lived in that bygone era. Brief skirmishes are recounted as he tells of battles which were fought and the connection to poker is related in all of them.
His description of the gun fight at the OK Corral is wonderful, and the fact they all played poker the night before is fascinating.
The book seems to be two books in one; Wilson is so enamored with the WSOP that the second half tells of the personalities of the players of today. He does relate the formation of the event by Benny Binion at his famous Horseshoe in Las Vegas in 1970 and touches upon his ghost. Those players who will pay $10,000 to enter Harrah's Rio, the situs of the 2008 contest, owe their opportunity to play to the ghosts of the past and those of the present. Being lucky and getting good cards is only part of winning in Texas Hold 'Em, winning the gold bracelet is exemplified as being a paragon of the bluff.
I'm sure the author meant well, but he tried to create, then un-ravel many mysteries of poker's past. And while the attempt was admirable, I was never drawn into his vision. It was actually one of the first books I've read in a while where I debated not finishing it simply because it was kind of boring and lacked depth.
The middle part of the book regarding the Texas Road gamblers was probably the best as some of the old timers are still alive and you do realize you're looking at living legends when you see them play. But even that portion lacked a depth I was hoping for.
I realize it's a lot to ask with so much to cover, but I think the author could have done better. Saying that, even though the book's covering of many players was shorter than the biographies of "Deal Me In," I thought "Ghosts at the Table" did a more concise job of hitting the present day gamblers.
I was disappointed by this book, and in fact you could go to Cardplayer or other sites to actually read a detailed history of poker in archived Magazines they keep online.
It was definitely not a one star book, but I don't think I can give this more than two.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Enjoyed the new material (50%). The rest has been done better by others.
Poker enthusiasts will enjoy the historical material.
A useful addition to one's poker library.
Takes you through history of game and introduces you to all the different eras and characters- before multi-tabling on line and balancing ranges, you go back and visit a more... Read morePublished on May 23, 2014 by andy D
WELL WRITTEN, EXCELLENT PICTURE OF POKER SINCE THE 1800S. VERY ACCURATE WITH PLENTY OF NEW MATERIAL.Published on June 20, 2008 by Hal Grothjan
a must have book for anyone who has the slighest interest in poker or gambling. a really great book!!Published on May 8, 2008 by Jack Boozer
"The wild weird money world of professional gamblers is illustrated with stories from the riverboats to Vegas. Read morePublished on May 7, 2008 by BookManBookWoman TV REVIEWS