Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything
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Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  256 ratings  ·  37 reviews
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 i...more
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Published November 22nd 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published October 6th 2010)
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Adam
A cracking read. The true story of American hustler Titanic Thompson, who gambled his way around the states from 1910 until the 70's, winning and losing millions in the process. He was a card sharp, sharp shooter, athelete, golfer who would bet on almost anything and invariably come out on top. He rubbed shoulders with and conned everybody from Al Capone to Harry Houdini. It's a real insight into a bygone age. Having read it, you can't believe how much the world has changed in 100 years. Did you...more
David
Interesting account of a fascinating con man- reminds me of myself (that is, if I were smarter, better coordinated, and more dedicated to separating rich people from their money).
Neil Schiller
I've been reading this book frantically, desperate to get onto the next exploit of the great Titanic Thompson. I love books (and films) about con-men, just because their ploys are usually so crafty and intelligently put together - I find them fascinating despite the obviously dubious morality. And this is a great example of that, covering the wayward, rambling life of an unknown American legend and his quest for riches at the expense of gamblers and marks up and down the America of the '20s and...more
Carin
I was at the wonderful Library Center in Springfield, Missouri, perusing their gift shop before settling in to the coffee shop to read for a bit, when I ran across this book. I had taken note of it when it first came out because "Titanic" Thompson was the inspiration for Sky Masterson, a role my brother once played in the musical Guys and Dolls. What I did not know was that he was from the Missouri Ozarks, which makes sense why they would have bought a lot of this book in their library system wh...more
Jack Cheng
Titanic Thompson is a character that you need to meet. He bet on anything -- as long as he knew he was going to win. From an era when people would never welsh on a bet, Titanic cheated on cards, played golf like a pro, threw bottle caps over 2 story buildings, married a few teenagers and killed 4 men. He won through cheating and he won through practice, and he respected the latter more (although he practiced his cheating, too). When he met Houdini, he appreciated the fact that the escape artist...more
Peter Fortune
This is a fun book about a character who long ago disappeared from anyone's memory (except the author). Titanic Thompson was just what the subtitle says--a man who made his way through life by betting, and winning, in the most improbable ways. Forget the card table, roulette, and other casino games. Thomson bet on more exotic things, from golf shots to whether he could throw an orange completely over a building.

He won from angles--convincing the other side that he had to do the impossible, then...more
Jay Russell
I know the response is "Guys and Dolls" but man is this a story that needs to be made into a movie! Cook's story is just the right combination of biographical detail and historical setting. A very entertaining biography that allows the reader to imagine his or her own script and storyboarding ideas.
Dignan107
Small room literature. Enjoyable list of tales of the annoying bloke from the pub who would ask you to bet on 'anything'. Strange to believe how gullible people must have been in yesteryear. Golfing tales were enjoyable and more realistic than throwing items over high-rise buildings. Credit to the author who hasn't portrayed Mr Thompson/Thomas in anything but a good light. He remained a selfish, arrogant individual who didn't care who he fleeced and displayed no care or much attention to his fam...more
Mike
Interesting story of the greatest hustler of the twentieth century. Not a redeeming character but a fascinating one nonetheless. Cast of mobsters, financiers, Hollywood and sports legends. Quick, fun read.
Richard
A contemporary of Nick “The Greek” Dandolos one of if not the most legendary of the 20th century (who estimated he wagered ~$500M in his lifetime), Titanic Thompson is a close second. Golf, pool, poker, dice etc. if you can think of it, this guy bet on it and probably won a huge pot although like Nick he died relatively poor. But then to these guys it isn’t necessarily how much you end with, it’s how much you have in your pocket at the end of the bet while you’re on your way in search of the nex...more
Zphyroz Voxillion
how to read this book? I don't understand, cuz I m new
Jyo Gregory
A very entertaining read sometimes bordering on the incredulousness yet Titanic Thompson actually existed! Ti interacted with so many famous (some infamous) people that the trivia game based on the "small world phenomenon" concept should be re-named "Six Degrees of Titanic Thompson". I don't know why some Hollywood producer hasn't brought Titanic to the "big screen" yet. This book has a little bit of everything for all - golf fans, history buffs and gamblers will all be captivated as they envisi...more
Jon Stefenson
Amazing story - was this guy for real ?
John
Great book about a con man that was probably the greatest golfer and card shark that ever lived. Great stories of his life on the road as a scam artist, golfer and poker hustler. Set in the early 20th century.You will be truly entertained throughout the book of true stories about the mob, Minnesota Fats, Ben Hogan and Lee Trevino. A+
Robert Morrow
The book is well-written and has some interesting passages and vignettes of the era. The problem with the book is that the story is repetitive: one hustle after another, ad infinitum. The lead character is neither admirable nor particularly charming: he's what Sherwood Anderson would call a "grotesque," obsessed with one thing.
Bryan Sager
Interesting story about an interesting period of history in which the road gambler, or in Titanic's case hustler, could operate successfully. While he was basically a cheat and a con man, he was still able to amass gigantic fortune's at the expense of overly gullible individuals that did not yet know his name.
Dave


I think this books captures the essence of a professional gambler. Beyond that, the book takes you through a period of time in American history from such an interesting perspective, that you will not be disappointed. I never understood golf was fundamentally about gambling! Quite a revelation.
Cynthia
The guy sounds basically amoral, but that doesn't stop him from being fascinating. This is a lively and well-written biography that follows him from birth almost to death. This is a man who truly was "larger than life." Highly recommended if you want a really fun and interesting read.
Glorious.Clio
This guy was crazy. I mean, really. C'mon! He gambled millions and millions of dollars and didn't really care about the money. He just wanted to win!

Cook is a sympathetic writer, and the book was very engaging. It's always weirdly fun to read about the underbelly of society.
Brian
Story about the gambling version of the "Catch Me If You Can" guy who lived in the early 1900's. This guy conned Al Capone - awesome. He also lived his life with no morals - not awesome. Fun read regardless.
Zoombini Pedicini
A very interesting read that goes over the time of hustlers, flim-flam men, and short cons. The one about hitting a golf ball off a cliff and then onto a frozen lake is particularly amusing.
Carmen    D
Well Written Life Of A True American Legend-He's Also A Real Character--Author Captures His Essence -Is It All True To Form- Imbellished Some? Hard to Tell-Still Can Enjoy The Ride!!
Neil Chinniah
This is a great book about several con men, well written and would happily recommend this to anyone (in fact I must thank my friend who recommended it to me!).
John Treanor
Fantastic book about a gambling legend, who carried a .45 and a suitcase of cash wherever he went, and killed 5 men during his career (all for trying to rob him).
Fritzov
I just love old gambling stories. And this is the best. All the stories about how Titanic hustled his way around America made me laugh out loud many times.
Doug Mcleod
An easy read. Somewhat interesting. Got a little slow at the end. Would probably be more interesting to somebody more interested in gambling.
Chris
Interesting book about a conman and cardshark. Some good stories retold about Titanic from Doyle Brunson among others.
David
Really cool stories...I really enjoy books that are written about life in the late 1800s and the first half of the 1900s.
Joe Stillman


I must read for all gamblers , I've Read it a dozen times , and it still makes me smile
Jean Podrasky
This book is about the best card shark that ever lived. I thought it was fantastic.
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Kevin Cook, the award-winning author of Titanic Thompson and Tommy’s Honor, has written for the New York Times, the Daily News, GQ, Men’s Journal, Vogue, and many other publications, and has appeared on CNN and Fox TV. He lives in New York City.
More about Kevin Cook...
Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime That Changed America The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70s: The Era That Created Modern Sports Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son Flip: The Inside Story of TV's First Black Superstar Driven: Teen Phenoms, Mad Parents, Swing Science, and the Future ofGolf

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