March 16, 2010

[Book Review] Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker

Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker by James McManus

Most online grinders rarely consider the history of poker and its roots on the American frontier. A story perhaps more familiar to amateur players, moviegoers and historians, it is one of intrigue and legend. Cowboys Full does an excellent job of describing the stages of poker’s historical development, from European card games to the palatial riverboats of the Mississippi, from the wild west to the civil war, from the early days in Las Vegas to the modern era of massive WSOP fields. Reinforcing general trends with famous and interesting anecdotes, he weaves the tale of poker in an engrossing manner.

The history of poker was not a subject that I had ever spent much effort investigating; most of my attention thus far has been devoted to optimal strategies and tactics. While you won’t find any modern strategic advice in this book, you may certainly benefit from reading it. I found it to be a refreshing and enjoyable read which gave perspective to my current career and the state of poker on the whole. It also reinforced my anger towards those who forced the UIGEA into law, not only because of the underhanded way that they did so but because I now recognize even more that poker is a very important part of America’s cultural history.

Posted By DJ Sensei at 11:22 PM


Tags: poker history Cowboys Full James McManus


yeahthatsme posted on March 17, 2010 at 19:28 PM


Good deal, I love poker history. I'm such a nerd I once retyped an Amarillo Slim(yeah, I know) article I found in a 70's porno mag, just to get it online.

Jim McManus posted on March 17, 2010 at 21:42 PM


Thanks a million, DJ, for your thoughtful and generous comments. The book is reaching history buffs, old-school poker dudes and literary types, but it's having a harder time among young pros like yourself. So your kind words are doubly appreciated. Jim McManus

bjordan posted on March 19, 2010 at 15:11 PM


Good review. I got the book for Christmas and it's still on my desk waiting it's turn. I'm very anxious to read it but I'm trying to work through Doyle's Autobiography and a few other books I'd already started first.

Gemmill posted on March 21, 2010 at 18:38 PM


I haven't read the book reviewed, but I enjoyed Des Wilson's Ghosts at the Table which you might also enjoy.

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