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Blackjack Book Reviews
Here are my personal reviews of a whole host of gambling books. I hope they motivate you to learn more about how to prepare yourself to face the casinos. If you do wish to buy any of these books just click the link and you’ll go straight to the Amazon order page.
Books I recommend are indicated with a star. I am including links even to the books I don’t like, just to be consistent and fair, not to encourage you to buy them.
Books about Blackjack
1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors by Glen Wiggy
The book is an autobiographical account of the author's adventures in card counting. I skimmed it and found it to be humorous and enjoyable. The author also presents the basics of card counting early in the book. So if the topic of what it really is like to count cards interests you then this book is worth checking out.
Basic Blackjack by Stanford Wong
The book is a study of the basic strategy and the its adjustments under a host of different rules. Much of the book is devoted to analysis of short term gimmicks that happened in a limited area years ago. I would recommend this book to the player who plays a lot and may encounter unusual rules from time to time, including those who may play in Europe or Asia, or anyone with a mathematical interest with the game.
Big Book of Blackjack by Arnold Snyder
This is one of the best blackjack books I have read in a long time. Normally I just skim new blackjack books, but this one I read cover to cover. Almost everything in it is fresh material. Topics include an in-depth history of blackjack, biographies of the influencial people to the game, how to beat lots of blackjack variants and side bets, cheating, team play, an FAQ, and blackjack poetry. This book should be in every serious blackjack player’s collection.
Blackbelt in Blackjack by Arnold Snyder
Here is a great A to Z book on blackjack counting. I recommend it highly for beginning to intermediate counters. Snyder quickly cuts to point on everything important to a card counter without being too technical or number heavy. Included is coverage of the Red Seven and Zen Counts.
Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger
This book is largely comprised of the Blackjack Forum articles by Don Schlesinger. The reader should have a strong background in basic strategy and card counting to appreciate this book. Experienced players can gain a lot from one of the masters of blackjack theory but it may be too advanced for beginning or intermediate players.
Blackjack Autumn by Barry Meadow
The story of one man's quest to count card at every casino in Nevada with at least one blackjack table. The writing is full of humorous similes and observations. There are plenty of interesting stories to tell, from a car breakdown on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere to the death of the writer's father. Compared toLas Vegas Blackjack Diary the reading is lighter and more entertaining. This seems to be because the endeavor in Blackjack Autumn was mainly for the purpose of the book, while that of Las Vegas Blackjack Diary was a serious attempt at making money and the book an afterthought. If you want an enjoyable read get this book, if you want a more realistic depiction of card counting get Las Vegas Blackjack Diary.
Blackjack Blueprint by Rick Blaine
This book looks at almost every angle you can use in blackjack including basic strategy, card counting, tournaments, shuffle tracking, team play, and cheating. The writing is non-technical and well spoken. There is something in here for everybody, but the intermediate player will probably benefit the most.
Blackjack: The Real Deal by J. Phillip Vogel
Yet another combination of decent advice and betting systems.
Blackjack Secrets by Stanford Wong
There is nobody who I respect more on the subject of blackjack and gambling in general than Stanford Wong. In Blackjack Secrets he packs plenty of information into 256 pages. The basics are there for the beginner as well as fresh material for experienced players. This should not be the first book on blackjack or card counting but I’m sure anyone at any level of expertise can learn a lot from it.
Blackjack Wisdom by Arnold Snyder
This book is a collection of magazine articles by Synder. Fun and interesting reading for the reader with a solid blackjack background. No charts or math heavy analysis, just stories and talk about blackjack. A good bedside book.
Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich
Based on the story of the MIT blackteam, that successfully won millions card counting. Many of the details are embellished, but still an enjoyable read.
Burning the Tables in Las Vegas by Ian Andersen
This is a follow up to ’Turning the Tables in Las Vegas’ (see review below). In the 20 years since that book blackjack has changed and Andersen has a lot more advice to offer on player camouflage. One chapter was co-written with Stanford Wong on the costs and benefits of Andersen’s basic strategy deviations and wider bet range. At 305 pages this book packs lots of information from topics varying from how to change your name to Chinese herbs that can sharpen your play. If you find yourself betting backed off or barred playing blackjack this book may be just what you need.
Dynamic Blackjack by Maverick Sharp
Published in 2013, this is the first new significant blackjack book in years. This book has something for everybody. It goes from the rules of the game to the fine points of card counting. The main thing it adds to the collective literature on the game is the Dynamic Matrix Pro Count. This is a level-3 count (card values range from -2 to +3) that is more powerful than level-1 counts like the high-low and Knockout. The book features a lot of tables from my site in the chapter on basic strategy, used with permission. The analysis of the Pro Count is by Norm Wattenberger, and there is nobody I would trust more for that. At 600 pages and a small font, this book is not light summer reading. In all fairness, much of the content is in the form of tables, for a host of different blackjack rules, that are safely glossed over. I'd recommend this book for the serious student of the game, especially those interested in progressing to something stronger than a level-1 count.
Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution by Frank Scoblete
Golden Touch Blackjack introduces the Speed Count, an easy to use strategy, designed to bridge the gap between basic strategy and card counting. There are no negative-value cards, true-count conversions, or tables of index numbers. It is unlikely that you will ever encounter a negative count. While is it is much easier to learn and use than a traditional count, the power is only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the Hi-Lo count, depending on how the effectiveness is measured, and whose simulations you believe. Dan Pronovost, who did the simulations for the book says the advantage is about 1/2 of the hi-lo. Fred Renzy says the advantage is between 0.4% and 0.5%. Norm Wattenberger, the creator ofCasino Vérité, and biggest skeptic of the Speed Count, says measuring risk and reward, it is about 1/3 as effective as the hi-lo, and believes the Knock-Out count is just as easy, but more powerful. One of these days I hope to simulate it myself.
Hollywood Blackjack by "Hollywood" Dave Stann
This is certainly a very unique kind of blackjack book. I’m sure it uses the F word more times than in all other blackjack books, even all gambling books of any kind, combined. This book takes an irreverant look at various different facets of blackjack by arguably the cockiest known blackjack player. Most of the pages are filled with stories and advice based on the author’s own experience. The book also has the most important strategy charts, including the basic stratey, “Illustrious 18” and “Fab 4” index numbers, and bankroll to bet size suggestions. The advice given is mathematically sound, targeted to the beginning level counter. Dave also writes about his appearance on the show “Friend or Foe,” which I’m a fan of, in which he voted Foe. That, in my opinion, is an unforgivable act against his fellow man. Dave, the bad karma will come back to you some day.
John Patrick's Blackjack by John Patrick
I can't recommend this book because the basic strategy is incorrect. Where Patrick differs with the conventional basic strategy is to avoid doubling and splitting against strong dealer cards. Following his strategy will result is losing more over the long run, but also less short term bankroll volatility.
Ken Uston on Blackjack by Ken Uston
More real life stories from one of blackjack’s best and most interesting players. Not much technical information but an enjoyable read.
Knock-Out Blackjack by Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuchs
This book presents the Knock-Out count. It is a unbalanced counting system in which no running count to true count conversion is required. I respect the system and know many legitimate counters use it. I still believe the traditional hi/low count to be more powerful but there can be no denying that the Knock-Out is easier to use.
Las Vegas Blackjack Diary by Stuart Perry
This book follows the ups and downs of an eight week campaign of a card counter against the city. Session by session the author takes you through both the financial and emotional ups and downs. This book is full of practical advice for survival as a card counter as well as being an enjoyable read.
Million Dollar Blackjack by Ken Uston
Although a bit dated, this book is a classic by one of the greatest minds and most interesting characters in the world of blackjack. This book contains five levels of strategy from basic to the Uston Advanced Point Count, including the Uston Simple Plus/Minus and Advanced Plus/Minus. There are also plenty of stories from Uston’s exciting life as a professional blackjack player and in depth advice on playing as a team.
The Most Powerful Blackjack Manual by Jay Moore
Move over John Patrick, you have some competition. Moore's book tells us we can beat blackjack by using an incorrect basic strategy combined with a betting system. If you want my opinion, stick to what the experts like Wong, Schlesinger, Braun, Griffin, and Snyder have been saying for years: start with a foundation in the basic strategy and then move onto card counting. It isn't easy but if there were an easier way then everyone would be doing it. Meanwhile, my heart goes out to the tree that was cut down to make this book.
Playing Blackjack as a Business by Lawrence Revere
At one time this was probably the best book on blackjack but it has since become dated. Revere has the best treatment of the basic strategy I have ever seen and explains clearly and mathematically his argument that you can make a lot of money at blackjack. Many of the tables are in color, which makes memorization easier. His book contains three count strategies but his more powerful Plus-Minus or Point Count you have to order separately.
Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong
Every book by Wong is truly outstanding but Professional Blackjack is his best, in my opinion. Wong introduces the “high low” count and gives complete index numbers for almost every rule variation imaginable, including many unusual rules I have never seen. In the back are several appendices of interesting statistics. This book is not for the beginner but the gold standard on card counting.
The Pro’s Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon by Katarina Walker
This is everything you could ever need to know about Spanish 21, and Pontoon, as it is called in Australia. Included is a detailed card-counting strategy, the first ever in print for Spanish 21. Despite the removal of tens, Spanish 21 is indeed countable. Read the book, and play it now, before the other side reads it too.
The Theory of Blackjack by Peter Griffin
Just as the title says this book in on the theory of blackjack. The book is very mathematically advanced and presumes a strong background in card counting. This book was not meant to help the typical counter’s game but reads more like a college text exploring the math behind card counting. For the person with an academic interest in blackjack you can’t sink your teeth much deeper into the game than this. For the casual player or anybody who hates math I would recommend lighter reading.
Turning the Tables on Las Vegas by Ian Andersen
This book seems to be the most respected source of information on how not to get barred as counter. He also gives a good treatment of the mechanics of card counting, including his own strategy.
Twenty-First Century Blackjack by Walter Thomason
This piece of garbage disgusts me. The entire book is an explanation of a worthless betting system. Norman Wattenberger has specifically shown that the system put forth is no better than basic strategy. Frank Scoblete should be embarrassed for writing the forward.
Winning at Blackjack by Bryan Evans
This is a good book that goes through slowly and carefully the basic strategy and a +1/-1 count system with index values ranging from -4 to +3. No nonsense and to the point.
Winning Blackjack for the Serious Player by Edwin Silberstang
This is a well written book on the basics of good blackjack strategy. Silberstang takes you from the rules of the game to a simple count strategy. For the person who needs the basics but not a lot of technical information or a powerful count strategy this book would be a good choice.
Winning Casino Blackjack for the Non-Counter by Avery Cardoza
This book takes the beginner slowly and easily through the basic strategy and rule variations. In chapter VIII, “The Winning Edge,” he presents a good strategy on betting more when the deck is rich in tens and aces, without necessitating the counting every card.
The World's Greatest Blackjack Book by Lance Humble and Carl Cooper
Although the title is rather pretentious there can be no serious debate that it is one of the best blackjack books on the market. It packs a great deal of information in its pages and word for word is a good buy. The book explains from the basic strategy, to the Hi-Opt I count strategy.
You've Got Heat by Barfakel
This book could be loosely described as a diary of a part-time blackjack player. Unlike most blackjack books, which are written by either great players or quacks, this one is by an ordinary counter. In my opinion there was too much detail. For example I don’t need to know what the writer ate for every meal and every coupon he used. One thing I found particularly objectionable, on page 129, was that he called a police officer an “asshole” who justifiably gave the author a ticket for speeding. Anyway, if you’re looking for a very detailed book on what it is like to be a part-time counter there is nothing else that even compares.
Winning Blackjack For The Average Joe by Jeffery A. Oxley
Winning Blackjack for the Average Joe gives the most thorough treatment of basic strategy I have ever seen. It doesn't just throw a chart in the reader's face (like I do) but carefully explains why every play is what it is and the cost of not playing "by the book." It then goes onto to slowly and carefully explaining card counting -- how to do it and why it works. The author, Jeff Oxley, pays a great deal of attention to detail and documents every bit of advice with the math behind them. I would say this book is targeted to people of above average intelligence but unfamiliar with the basics of blackjack strategy. Overall, a great piece of work!
If you didn’t find the book you were looking for, try searching at Amazon.com.
Written by: Michael Shackleford