Poker: America's Game


Twenty-one year old Joe Cada won the World Series of Poker and $8.5 million last week in Las Vegas. A heck of a pot for the youngest winner ever.

But fully of a piece, says my guest today, with poker’s fabled place in American history. And in American culture.

Presidents, generals, gangsters, cowboys — and now millions of Americans online — have embraced the part-Puritan, part go-for-it gambler ethos of poker. A new history tells the story.

This hour, On Point: The tangled American roots of poker. And we’ll hear from the 21-year-old who won it all.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


James McManus, bestselling journalist and author who writes about poker for the New York Times and other publications. His new book is “Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker,” came out last month. He came in fifth in the World Series of Poker in 2000 and wrote a memoir about that experience, “Positively 5th Street.”

Read the first chapter of “Cowboys Full” (pdf).

Joseph Cada, winner of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event. He was 21 when he won on November 10, the youngest champion ever. His winnings totaled $8.5 million.

Laura Lane, co-host of’s Inside Deal, a weekly show about online poker.

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