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Casino Game 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 Craps
Craps: Take the Money and Run by Henry J. Tamburin
The only thing I don't like about this book is the title. I do like the author’s “just the facts” approach, explaining all the rules, the etiquette, and the house.
Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution by Frank Scoblete and Dominator
This book goes over a host of subjects relating skilled dice throwing. The target audience is beginning level throwers. Topics include proper grip, strategy at the table, bankroll management, team play, and stories from the authors’ own experiences. I’m still skeptical about dice control in general, but assuming it is true, the advice in the book looks sound.
John Patrick's Craps by John Patrick
While I only skimmed the book in the book store I can’t recommend it because the author advocates the any craps bet as a hedge. The any craps bet has a house edge of 11.11% and should not be made for any reason. However following his advice will result in less short term bankroll volatility.
Winning Craps for the Serious Player by J. Edward Allen
This book will tell you everything you need to know about craps. The author takes the reader though all the various bets, explaining the odds and house edge, while mixing in stories and examples to make the reading more colorful. My only complaint is the overdoing it with the promises of beating the casinos on the cover.
Wong on Dice by Stanford Wong
Although I’m still skeptical of the entire topic of dice setting this is an honest presentation on the topic. Topics include evidence and history thus far that it works, various dice settings, the throw of the dice, what to bet on and how much. I still say dice setting is a waste of time, but if you must hear a different opinion on the topic, it should be Wong's.
Books about Poker
Dirty Poker by Richard Marcus
It isn’t often I say this about gambling book, but I enjoyed every page of this book. However, after reading it, I’m going to be afraid to play poker again with strangers.
Get the Edge at Low-Limit Texas Hold 'Em by Bill Burton
This book covers the basics of texas hold 'em. Targeted to beginners, it is easy to read and has lots of stories and examples from the author’s own experience. Unlike another poker book I read it isn’t heavy on memorizing hands and how to play them but rather understanding the reasons behind the plays.
The Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen
This is a very mathematically heavy book regarding the game theory surrounding the game of poker. I think this will be of more value to academics studying the game than those who play it only. For those who love to dig deep into the math of poker, I can't think of anything to compare. College level statistics should be a prerequisite to follow every stop, but anybody with a healthy interest in math should learn something from it. If anything, I think the book argues for a more aggressive style of bluffing than most players employ.
The Poker Tournament Formula (parts 1 and 2) by Arnold Snyder
I enthusiastically endorse every book by gambling writer Arnold Snyder. This time he turns his attention to poker, in particular poker tournaments. Tournaments call for a much more aggressive style of play, that is less about the cards and more about the players. Snyder tells you how to beat the many players who incorrectly play tournaments like a cash game. Written in simple down to earth language.
Books about Roulette
Spin Roulette Gold by Frank Scoblete
This book correctly says that there is no way to beat a fair game of roulette with a betting system. It goes go into detail about beating unfair games of roulette by various means. In my opinion, the only humanly possible way to beat roulette, without cheating, is to find a biased wheel, which this book does address. There have been a few documented cases of this being done. However, in the modern casinos, I believe the wheels are too well made to have an exploitable bias. Finally, I believe the wheel bias confidence chart on page 58 to be flat out wrong, and will result in a high chance of a false positive. Don’t be fooled by the title, if it is possible to beat roulette, it would be VERY hard to do so.
Books about Sports Betting
Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong
Wong discusses how to improve your odds on everything from straight bet to exploiting many unusual bets such as parlays and teasers. It is rather math heavy so Wong provides sample problems and solutions. This one is certainly one of the most worn out of the many gambling books on my shelves.
The Smart Money — How the World’s Best Sports Bettors Beat the Bookies out of Millions by Michael Konik
This is an interesting and informative look inside what is probably the biggest U.S. sports betting syndicate. The names have been changed to protect the characters, but it is commonly rumored to be about the Billy Walters organization. They let the author into their trust as a beard (someone who makes bets for others) for several years. The book is about his adventures betting millions of dollars a year on sports. Don’t expect to learn much about handicapping, but the book should be a very enjoyable read for those with an interest in the topic. I don’t say this often about gambling books, but it was hard to put down.
20/20 Sports Betting: Think Like a Pro by Logan Fields
I've thought about writing a book on how to beat sports without handicapping for years. In fact, that would probably be the title. Now there is little need as 2020 Sports Betting explains how sports can be beaten by exploiting sports and bets that syndicates like Billy Walters don't pay attention to and sports books often hang lazy soft lines that get little action. Note that the subtitle is "Think Like a Pro." That's what the book does and does well. It does not provide easy strategies to get rich beating sports. No book does. Fields correctly says that sports change all the time and what worked for him in the past probably won't work now. It takes work to keep up with changes in rules and strategy and how they affect common proposition bets. Personally, I was slow to learn this lesson myself and it cost me a lot of money. I can't think of a single thing I disagree with the author about. As a bonus, the author also has a chapter on Jeopardy, another mathematical area of interest of mine.
Books about Video Poker
Million Dollar Video Poker by Bob Dancer
Dancer milked video poker for all it was worth and this is the story of how he did it, from a bankroll of a few thousand to over a million. Video poker today is not as lucrative as it was in the nineties but it is still informative and an enjoyable read.
The Secret World of Video Poker Progressives by Frank Kneeland
I have never seen the topic of this book discussed much before, let alone an entire book about it. The book itself is the size of a small phone book, so packs a lot of content. It is a mixture of video poker math and stories about the author’s experiences leading a video poker progressive team. I’ve never paid much attention to progressives personally, because I know when they get good a team will quickly take them down, so I skimmed over lots of the book. However, if progressive hunting is something you do, or think you might do, I think this book is must reading.
Video Poker Optimum Play by Dan Paymar
This 198 page book contains a close to perfect strategy for jacks or better, deuces wild, and joker poker. There are also chapters briefly covering other games as well as a host of video poker related topics. The writing is a bit dry but the math seems very solid. This is the best overall book on video poker I have seen.
Books about Other Games
How to Win Millions Playing Slot Machines … or Lose Trying by Frank Legato
Great title. This could just as easily be classified as a humor book as a gambling book. Among other topics the book explains how slots work and debunks the numerous myths that abound with slot players. Looking for a way to beat slots? You won’t find it in this book, or anywhere. However I found the information accurate and enjoyable to read. On the other hand there was a lot of fluff and filler. The essential information could have been boiled down to something 10% the size.
The Lottery Book by Don Catlin
I’m not big on playing the lottery but if you do have an interest this book covers the topic quite thoroughly. The author is a former math professor and gives the topic a professional treatment. The book features a chapter on how to calculate lottery odds, stories about past winners, explanation of the various kinds of lotteries, and a state by state breakdown of the house advantage of each game. There isn’t too much more to say about lotteries in my opinion.
Mastering the Game of Caribbean Stud Poker by Stanley Ko
Just about everything there is to say about Caribbean Stud Poker.
Mastering the Game of Let it Ride by Stanley Ko
Just about everything there is to say about Let it Ride. Includes a strategy on how to adjust your strategy based on other player’s cards you can see.
Mastering the Game of Three Card Poker by Stanley Ko
Just about everything there is to say about Three Card Poker. Includes information on how to play if you can see one of the dealer’s cards.
Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker by Stanford Wong
As usual anything by Stanford Wong is about as good as it gets. The book explains why the rules in southern California are the best for playing pai gow poker and his strategies are designed for playing against other good players, as opposed to the casino house way. The 160 pages also contain a complete optimal strategy, an abbreviated one that will cover the vast majority of hands correctly, and 29 pages of practice hands.
I also recommend Nick Christenson's reviews of gambling books.
If you didn’t find the book you were looking for, try searching at Amazon.com.
Written by: Michael Shackleford