Review of Championship Table

Championship Table
Dana Smith, Tom McEvoy, and Ralph Wheeler
Cardsmith Publishing

Reviewed by Nick Christenson,

December 2, 2003

In the world of poker, one can accomplish many things, but there is one event, one tournament that outshines all others, and maybe all others combined. The pinnacle of poker accomplishment is without a doubt the final event at the World Series of Poker. It is this event that can spell the difference between eternal fame and relative anonymity. There are few fields of skilled endeavor where one person a year achieves so many accolades based on such a fickle set of circumstances. The history of this event, up through 2002, is chronicled in Championship Table.

While the seed for this event may have been planted in the great 1949 heads-up poker marathon between Johnny Moss and Nick "The Greek" Dandalos, it finally germinated in the first ever World Series of Poker in 1970. While today's WSOP events are saturated by media members and every hand is recorded in excruciating detail, the authors have had to rely on anecdote and fading memory to recreate what happened at the earliest of these events.

Nonetheless, the authors have gone through some considerable gyrations in order to collect the information that they have, especially from the early years. For each year the $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em event has occurred, the book lists the names of the players who made it to the final table, their relative rank, and the money they won, at least as far as the authors have been able to determine. In each case, this information is accompanied by a description of the play of the final hand, and often an interview with one of the participants or photographs of the event itself.

In many cases the participants, background, and the hands themselves have become the stuff of legend. We're fortunate that the authors have gone through the effort that they have to painstakingly research what actually happened in these events. These tournaments are an important piece of poker history. In this day of detailed tournament reporting and televised poker it may be hard to realize that even key hands at the final event of the WSOP in years past have already been forgotten. It's my hope that this book will spur those who do remember what happened at these events to come forward now so that they might be preserved for posterity.

I was a little surprised to find that the wealth of material that exists regarding events in recent years wasn't more deeply tapped than it was. I would have thought that it wouldn't have been that difficult to include one of the comprehensive hand histories that exist for each recent event. If I were to go to the effort of trying to chronicle the history of this great event, and I believe it is definitely worthwhile to do so, my inclination would be to be exhaustive.

However, the authors intent clearly was to write something a bit lighter and, perhaps, more entertaining than a historical text, and this is what they have delivered. I would think that those with an interest in the history of the final event at the World Series of Poker would find this book interesting, entertaining, and worthwhile. Certainly, these are memories worth preserving.


Championship Table is a brief history of the final event at the World Series of Poker. While it is not a historical chronicle, it does provide some interesting detail that I haven't seen before in print. It's fairly light and entertaining, and it is certainly worthwhile to capture these events in print. While it is not exhaustive by any means, I expect those who relish the history of this great event will be pleased, if not necessarily satisfied, by this book.

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