“Cowboys Full” Review

[LL] “James McManus’s Cowboys Full – The Story of Poker came out just a year after Des Wilson’s Ghosts at the Table, so it makes sense to compare and contrast them.”

[RR] “Sure, why read two books when one will do?” Roderick the Rock suggested.

[LL] “But you know that’s not what I’m going to say. I’m a big fan of poker books, and both of these have a lot going for them. Even where the books’ topics overlap, which is often, the content differs significantly.

Both books cover the history of playing cards, poker (and specifically Texas Hold ‘Em), Wild West poker (and Dead Man’s Hand), riverboat gambling, road gamblers, the growth of Las Vegas (and the Moss-Dandolos match), the World Series of Poker, high stakes poker (including Andy Beal), women in poker, and online poker.

Cowboys Full’s extra material includes poker in Gardena, California, poker playing U.S. Presidents (and other politicians), computer poker programs, and poker literature.

Ghosts at the Table unique offerings include the Bird Cage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona and Wilson’s personal investigation into Hal Fowler.

[RR] “But if you had to choose one of the books?”

[LL] “I wouldn’t.”

[RR] “But if you really had to…”

[LL] “If absolutely forced to pick, I’d go with Ghosts at the Table, which is the more entertaining of the pair and presents more content that doesn’t appear in any other poker book. Mind you, Cowboys Full is equally well written and amazingly researched with a whopping 41 pages of footnotes and 64 references (and that’s just the selected bibiliography).

If I only read Ghosts, I’d still want to read the sections in Cowboys that weren’t covered!”

Title Cowboys Full – The Story of Poker
Author James McManus
Year 2009
Skill Level any
Pros A comprehensive and entertaining history of poker through 2008.
Cons Very long and can drag at times (although you can just flip past the sections that don’t interest you).
Rating 3.5

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