Many journalists have covered the World Series of Poker, interviewed the winners, soaked up the Old Vegas atmosphere, and even entered the tournament. But unlike his peers, McManus won. And won. And won, finishing fifth and taking home $247,760. This feat would make for a fabulous magazine article, which is where Positively Fifth Street started and ultimately should have stayed. To little effect, McManus weaves in an already well-covered Vegas murder trial and his own history -- all of which would have been forgivable but for repellent writerly tics (not only does he refer to himself in the third person, but as two different people, ''Good Jim'' and ''Bad Jim''). What looked like a surefire full house ends up as only queens over sevens.