“Championship Table” Review

[LL] “Championship Table is a great companion book to All In“, Leroy the Lion claimed.

[RR] “How so?” Roderick the Rock encouraged.

[LL] “It complements the older book’s biggest weaknesses with excellent organization. Every World Series of Poker Main Event gets its own chapter with the same basic structure. The final players are listed in seat order, usually with their chip stacks at the start of the final table. A separate chart lists the order of finish with prize money. The final hand is described in text with the hole and board cards displayed graphically. Brief highlights of the entire WSOP are usually given.

While Championship Table doesn’t include nearly as many stories as All In, thirteen of its chapters include an interview or a conversation with the winner or the runner-up or, in one case, a Ladies World Champion.

These dialogues with Smith, even though they date from 1996 to 2001, are the best part of the book. The nine interviews are:

  • Thomas ‘Amarillo Slim’ Preston: ‘The Old Days at the World Series’
  • Walter Clyde ‘Puggy’ Pearson: ‘On the Road Again’
  • Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson: ‘The Warrior Returns to the Arena’
  • Bobby Hoff: ‘A Sunny Day after a Long Night’
  • Byron ‘Cowboy’ Wolford: ‘Rodeoing ‘n Playing Poker’
  • T.J. Cloutier: ‘When T.J. Talks, They All Listen’
  • Russ Hamilton: ‘He’s Worth His Weight in Silver’
  • Barbara Enright:1 ‘The First Lady at the Last Table’
  • Noel Furlong: ‘The Champ Pays Tribute to a Pioneer’
  • Chris Ferguson: ‘A Champ Who Waltzes in Three Worlds’

while the four conversations are with Dewey Tomko, Erik Seidel, Hans ‘Tuna’ Lund, and John Strzemp. Features on two of the first champions to pass away, Johnny Moss and Stu Ungar, also appear.

The book presents numerous photos throughout, with at least one of every champion. Although these pictures are black and white, they include over a dozen excellent group shots dating back to 1974. The ‘Gallery of Champions’ with every Main Event winner in chronological order is the final page of the book, but a better, color version without text adorns the front cover.

Like All In, Championship Table could use a sequel or an update, as it only covers through 2008, but of the two, it’s the book you’ll turn to first if you want to look something up about the first three decades of the WSOP.”

Title Championship Table
Author Dana Smith,2 Tom McEvoy, & Ralph Wheeler
Year 2009
Skill Level any
Pros Organized presentation of the final players with starting chip stacks and results, the final hand, and a summary for every WSOP Main Event from 1970 to 2008. Excellent interviews.
Cons Some years are unnecessarily brief, spanning a mere two pages. Numerous final hand errors.3
Rating 3.5


  1. Enright won the WSOP Ladies Championship in both 1986 and 1994.
  2. Dana Smith is one of the few female poker authors, but often hides that fact by publishing under the name Shane Smith.
  3. Over half (16 out of 30) of the final hands have at least one incorrect or missing card.

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