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Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything

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Description

Capturing the spirit of a freewheeling era, this rollicking biography brings to life the gambler-hero who inspired Guys and Dolls.
Born in a log cabin in the Ozarks, Alvin "Titanic" Thompson (1892-1974) traveled with his golf clubs, a .45 revolver, and a suitcase full of cash. He won and lost millions playing cards, dice, golf, pool, and dangerous games of his own invention. He killed five men and married five women, each one a teenager on her wedding day. He ruled New York's underground craps games in the 1920s and was Damon Runyon's model for slick-talking Sky Masterson. Dominating the links in the pre-PGA Tour years, Thompson may have been the greatest golfer of his time, teeing up with Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Lee Trevino, and Ray Floyd. He also traded card tricks with Houdini, conned Al Capone, lost a million to Minnesota Fats and then teamed up with Fats and won it all back. A terrific read for anyone who has ever laid a bet, Titanic Thompson recaptures the colorful times of a singular figure: America's original road gambler.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 06, 2010 – Cook (Tommy's Honor), a former Sports Illustrated editor, introduces his portrait of the larger-than-life "Titanic" Thompson (1892–1974) as a self-made man from the Ozarks who loved games of chance and had a knack for winning incredible sums of money. In a lyrical account of the gambling legend who inspired Damon Runyon's character Sky Masterson (Guys and Dolls), Cook describes Thompson as a "rogue wind that lifted girls' skirts and turned gamblers' pockets inside out." Thompson possessed the steel nerves of a card shark, the bravado of an outlaw, and the staying power of a satyr, preferring his girls young and pretty. Rumor has it that he drove a swank Pierce-Arrow (driving from town to town to ply his hustling trade), carried a gun (he reportedly killed five men) and a suitcase full of cash, and rubbed elbows with Houdini, Capone, and gamblers Arnold "the Brain" Rothstein and Nick the Greek. Thompson excelled at golf before PGA Tours began, competing with professional golfers Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. Cook's raucous narrative introduces readers to an eccentric, fascinating personality. 20 illus.

Customer Reviews

Happy I'm finished

This was certainly an interesting look at 20th century history's sumbags. The individuals included in this story represent what is the worst in the human condition. Guys like Titanic are the ones to keep away from. Keep your eyes wide open as there is a scam in front of you. It's was a good read for this reason alone.

Great read

Mr Cook paints a picture of life in the early 1900's up to and including the '60's. That background helped the reader understand how a character like Titanic could do what he did.

Some of the story seems unbelievable, and probably isn't true, but even if half of it is factual, it's a hell of a story and a fun read.

If you have ever played poker or golf

You will not be able to put this book down. I can't wait till they make the movie. If anyone could draw to an inside straight or make a putt to win the Calcutta he was your man. He was a cheat and a scoundrel. Patricia Highsmith would have loved "The Talented Mr. Thompson". He would have given Mr. Ripely a run for his money.

Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Nov 22, 2010
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Seller: W. W. Norton
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings