WSOP Event 18: Jim McManus takes sixth place

Jim McManus, his own tragic hero in a series of poker and health-angst-drive chronicles, is on what poker players like to call a "heater." Other folks might call it a rush. McManus, a wordsmith of a higher order than yours truly, would call it something else. And whatever he called it, it would be poetic and as beautiful as his current game.

Jim McManus at the final table

McManus has spent the last five years doing what everybody in this room (the media center of the World Series of Poker) wishes they could do on their own. He has somehow translated writing about poker into a semi-pro playing career. His rise to fame came several years ago when he traveled to Vegas to write an article for Harpers. He satellited into the $10,000 main event with his article advance money and went on to make the final table.

Surely--even Jim might admit--there were people who thought him to be a writer-fluke turned final tablist. Over the past several years, McManus has set out to prove--either to himself or others--that he belonged at that final table with the likes of the famous pros.

This year, McManus seems to be so driven in the mission, he can't find a way to stop. His gray goatee is ubiquitous at the WSOP tables. He's gotten deep in several events. Just a couple of days ago, he nearly made the final table of the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event. Then, this afternoon, after playing for 15 hours yesterday, McManus made the final table of the $2,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em event.

In the past couple of years, PokerStars has developed a relationship with McManus. As a writer and poker player, I can appreciate where McManus is coming from. I can appreciate what has to be a sense of combined pride and frustration with his sixth place finish today. More than anything, though, I envy his heater. While he might have had his main event final table glory a few years back, 2006 clearly is his year for the series. There's something clicking in his head that maybe even he can't describe.

Regardless, I owe congratulations to Jim for his sixth place finish. I can't wait to read what he writes about it.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker