Expect to see the Gamblers Book Club re-energized

Feb 4, 2014 3:00 AM

Expect to see the Gamblers Book Club re-energized as the gold standard for anything gaming.

“Moving to Main Street is our chance to be part of revitalizing both ourselves and downtown,” said Avery Cardoza, the owner of Cardoza Publishing, Gambler’s Book Club and now the Gamblers General Store. “Fremont, with all the tourist shops, would have been the wrong place. Here is perfect.”

Here is 800 S. Main, which will allow the Store, the Club and Cardoza Publishing to all be under the same roof.

“The transaction should be complete before the end of the month,” said Cardoza, whose first priority as new owner of Gamblers General Store was to move GBC away from its most recent site at 5473 S. Eastern Ave. “When the Main Street locale came open, I jumped at the chance.”

In 1964, the Gambler’s Book Club was born and stayed at the 11th Street and Charleston site for 45 years. It was the vision of founders John and Edna Luckman to make the Club a place of learning for gamblers.

Over the past five years, a couple of unsuccessful moves to 1550 E. Tropicana near UNLV and the current Eastern site near McCarron Airport, led to Cardoza stepping up to save a Las Vegas institution that had hit hard times.

“The Book Club was underfinanced at the Eastern site and the location at Trop had limited space. It was horrible,” Cardoza said. “Not even having a massage parlor near us helped.”

While the Gamblers Book Club  continued its operation, it was struggling financially and losing touch with its walk-in customers.

“When I heard the Gamblers General Store was for sale, I made an inquiry,” Cardoza said. “The absentee owners were in Houston. I decided to own it once they said it was all right.”

There are some 15,000 gambling items in the store, ranging from books, collectables, more than a dozen craps, blackjack and poker tables, chip production, card decks…anything gaming related. It was quite simply THE place to come and most everyone in the industry did.

“We have the room now to expand and re-decorate both inside and outside the building,” Cardoza said. “We will make something here tourists will want to see. Maybe even doing a reality TV show here in the future.”

The idea for all this didn’t happen earlier because, quite frankly, Cardoza didn’t think of it. In fact, he had no intention of winding up as owner.

“I wrote a book on blackjack some 30 years ago on how to beat the casinos,” he said. “They didn’t want me there. The book turned into a publishing company for gaming and gambling books. I felt there was a need for a blackjack book for the average player. Nobody had explained moves like hitting 16 against the (dealer’s) 10.”

Cardoza said he wanted his book to make money so he could travel around the world. It obviously grew into something a lot more personal.

“I am on the player’s side, not the casino’s,” Cardoza said. “I want people like Mark Lawrence, Steve Fezzik, Ted Sevransky and Andy Iskoe to keep coming in for material. I think the Main Street locale is finally the perfect place.”

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].

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