Positively 5th Street

And to complete my trio of oddball books witha financial side-theme:

Positively 5th Street is the story of a journalist, on assignment from Harper’s (I think that was the mag), who goes to Vegas to cover the $5 Million Binion’s World Series of Poker, and simultaneously to cover and research the trial over the murder of Binion himself, which is going on at the same time (actually, it’s the original Binion’s kid who was murdered, but he had been running the show for a few years).

So, he’s covering the murder and covering the tournament. He also gets into the tournament himself, by entering and winning a satellite tournament with a $100 entrance fee.

Both move to a climax, as the author, a first time tournament player, playing against 500 veteran players (mostly pros) makes it to the final table of 6, and as he befriends the Binion family a bit as the murder trial wraps up.

I won’t spoil it by revealing the trial outcome or if he wins the tournament (though I think the book jacket gives away both endings), but it’s definitely an enjoyable read, if you like true crime, poker, or both, like me.

Binion was the older, bald-head guy right? I remember seeing all kinds of commercials for his casinos (they advertise here as people drive to Bossier City from D/FW, right across the state line), and then I recall seeing Primetime Live or something where he had been murdered and the commercials were airing still a year or more afterwards (with him in it). Thought it was a little surreal.

So what was the deal on the murder anyway?

— Alan

He had let a 25 year old stripper move in with him.

He also had an ex-con 35 year old guy doing various semi-legal deeds for him.

35 year old guy hooks up with stripper. They decide to do in Binion and steal all his money, and try to make it look like a suicide.

Almost got away with it - was initially ruled a suicide until Binion’s sister hired a PI. They then got experts to look at the autopsy photos and figure out what the ME missed - that Binion had been suffocated. Various other evidence later confirmed this.

I guess the Las Vegas CSIs aren’t as good as they’re cracked up to be.

The two were convicted, BTW

You probably saw Jack Binion. Ted Binion was the one that was murdered, and, unlike his brother Jack and father Benny, he had a full head of hair. The whole Binion clan is fucked up (Becky sued to get control of the Horseshoe in LV, Ted put a contract out on her, but called it back, etc.). Jack was able to get rights to the Binion name and opened up casinos out east.

This is an absolutely terrific book. Anyone with a passing interest in hold-'em is in for a real treat.