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Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  15 reviews
George H. Devol was the greatest riverboat gambler in the history of the Mississippi. Born in Ohio in 1829, he ran away from home and worked as a cabin boy at age ten. At fourteen he could stack a deck of cards. Over the years, he bilked soldiers, paymasters, cotton buyers, thieves, and businessmen alike. He fought more fights than anyone, and was never beaten. This is his ...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published February 1st 1996 by Applewood Books (first published December 1st 1892)
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3.41  · 
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 ·  111 ratings  ·  15 reviews


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Ryan Holiday
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By total chance this title caught my eye in the UNLV library when I was walking by. I ended up buying it on Amazon when I got back home. Very glad I did (although I hear the Free Kindle version is just as good). This is not so much a book narrative his life as it is a collection of anecdotes and stories from that life, broken up in one to two page sections. What a life. Duval ran away from home as a young boy and worked on a ship. There he learned how to deal cards and also, how to cheat. The th ...more
Jonatan Billiau
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can i say about this book? I bought it on recommendation from Ryan Holiday. I started reading it in the airplane and was so thoroughly bored with it. I picked it up later and again, after 20 pages I just had enough. It's an array of 1 page short stories that basically go like this:

"I once done found myself on a boat on the Mississipi, I saw a wealthy lookin' sucker and I done caught his money. I am a little bit richer now."

Yawn.

It was the repetitiveness of the stories that made it impossibl
...more
Atila  Yumusakkaya
The title of the book is intriguing. But this is more of a a swindler's story rather than a gambler's. The book consists of numerous similar short stories. That's why when you start reading next story you know how it will end. It also gives us some information about the late 1800's in the States (I guess not completely united then). Our gambler worked on the boats running on Missisipi River. You cannot help asking yourself if a person might live so many things and if there were so many suckers i ...more
Alex MacMillan
You go into this book expecting one thing and getting another, much like the author's victims. He was a con artist who tricked thousands of people into thinking their gambling odds against him weren't completely rigged. As his victory is always assured, each story revolves around the novel ways people react to losing their life savings on a hand of cards. The author was a "gambler" in the sense that he had to anticipate and head off the risk of retribution from his victims.
Jon
Sep 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure now where I read about this book--whether it was suggested to me on Good Reads or whether I came across it in some other work--but it was not nearly as interesting as I thought it might be. Devol's work is not an autobiography in a standard sense. Had it been, I might well have liked it. Instead, it is a collection of anecdotes about his life, more or less put down in the order in which he recalls them. There is no chronology, no narrative development. And many of the anecdotes are ...more
G.R. Williamsom
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Undoubtedly, George H. Devol was the greatest riverboat gambler in the history of the Mississippi River.

At the same time, he was also a con artist, a head-battering fighter, and a master at manipulating men away from their money. He was born on August 1, 1829 in Marietta, and fed up with his school experience, ran away from home at the age of ten. Working as a cabin boy on various riverboats, he started an intense study of gambling and ways to cheat. By the time Devol was in his teens, he cou
...more
Andra Constantin
Jul 23, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-readable
I would not recommend this book to anyone who is not personally familiar with Mr. George H Devol and has a strong admiration for him.
The book is just a list of stories, not very talented written, about all the scores Mr. Devon had in his life. If you have no idea about gambling or what the tricks are, reading this book will be extremely boring. The reader is not offered a timeline, or details about any happening and it is utterly confusing.
Sean
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is all about fightin, gamblin, and being a genuine rascal on the Mississippi.
And it's written as a series of vignettes, so you can pick it up and put it down fairly easily.
I'm hoping to learn some valuable life skills here.
Sabrina Flynn
Interesting, but not really what I'm looking for. I came across another reference of this book that said it was a long line of tall tales. I'm looking more for fact. Will probably finish at later time.
Roger Bradbury
I thought that all of the stories and movies about the Mississippi gamblers were fiction; something created for Clark Gable. The stories are true. George Devol and Canada Bill Jones did exist!
Ralph Estes
Light & entertaining. He was more of a shyster and card sharp than gambler, dealing monte & cheating at poker.
Jonathan Torrey
Great stories but they become a little redundant.
Ties
Nov 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
Read this because of a recommendation, but it's not for me. Lack of a continuous story annoyed and bored me. Perhaps the setting would appeal to others.
Paul
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was good to read in short spurts with its short chapters. It got a little repetitive with descriptions of similar gambling and fighting stories. It was still interesting and worth checking out.
David
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