‘The Championship Table’ By Smith, McEvoy and Wheeler – BookReview

The Championship Table If there is one thing author Tom McEvoy knows it’s the final table of the World Series of Poker, the Championship Table! McEvoy was the surprise winner of the 1983 WSOP; the first player ever to win the championship after arriving at the tournament with the $10,000 buy-in from a much smaller satellite tournament. In this book McEvoy and fellow authors Dana Smith and Ralph Wheeler present the story of each WSOP from the tournament’s inception in 1970 until the winner took down a monster prize of $8.25 million in 2007.

High Points

Concise chronological history of the World Series of Poker

Photos from each year

Authored by an actual WSOP champion and two authors who put a compelling story together with interviews and insight from each year of the poker tournament.

Low Points

Wrap-up of each year may be too short for some readers

Photos are not of the highest caliber

Should not be listed as a strategy book


‘The Championship Table’ was first released in 2003 and has been updated to include play through 2007

224 pages, dozens of photos

Publisher: Cardoza

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‘The Championship Table’ at the World Series of Poker 1970-2007 starts right out with a description of the granddaddy of all poker tournaments. Authors Dana Smith and Ralph Wheeler present a fun and informative history of the WSOP, 1983 WSOP Champion Tom McEvoy adds the insight that only a champion can provide.

McEvoy first made a name for himself by winning a bracelet in the 1983 $1,000 Limit Hold’em event. He then went on to play in the Main Event after earning his $10,000 buy-in via a satellite tournament. His long, seesaw heads-up match at the Championship Table with runner-up Rod Peate was chronicled in newspapers across the globe and established McEvoy as a poker pro to be reckoned with. He went on to win two additional WSOP bracelets and to author several books on poker strategy. McEvoy’s insight from the final table is evident in the pages of this book, and other interviews with champions and runner-ups highlight the stories.

Beginning with an overview of how the world’s greatest poker tournament came about and why Texas Hold’em was chosen as the form of poker played to certify each year’s champion, the book has photos and a chapter on each year’s events.

Unfortunately, the original years of the WSOP tournament were spent in the lower floor of Binion’s Horseshoe casino and the lighting was never very good. Many of the photos used in this book are dark, but that does highlight the atmosphere of the tournament’s early days.

The coverage of each year’s tournament is short, which may leave some readers frustrated if they have a great interest in a particular year, but overall the book is true to the actual story from every tournament. Interviews and anecdotes from many participants add flavor to the text, taking the reader right to the room and into the minds of the players.

The book description from the publisher mentions “strategy tips from the champions,” but don’t expect this to be a course in playing poker. The tips are sprinkled lightly throughout the text and shouldn’t be considered a big part of the book although some of the players’ starting hands may surprise you. This is the story of the WSOP and its Champions, nothing more.

If you want to know when the WSOP started and who made the final table each year, this is the definitive source for the tournament. Winners, prize amounts, photos of the participants, and insightful interviews are included and make this a very compelling and interesting book. Reading it won’t make you a poker champion, but you may find out what some of the greatest poker players in the world were thinking as they closed-in on the crown!

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