Gambler’s Book Club opens at new location

May 24, 2011 3:00 AM

Valet parking for 200 at Gambler’s Book Club will be available this Wednesday evening for the official grand opening celebration!

Now that’s style.

And why shouldn’t GBC pull out all the stops to celebrate what has for six decades been a mecca for legions of famous gamblers and fans around the globe.

Especially, when we were so close to losing it.

The business was buried under a mountain of debt. No money to pay vendors for overdue bills, nothing for rent, no way to meet the payroll. GBC had only a few weeks left to oblivion.

The problems reached critical mass in the spring of 2010. Howard Schwartz, the owner for the past two decades, had given the store to his employees in 2009, who moved it from 11th and Charleston to a nondescript strip mall on Tropicana buried between an empty bay and a massage parlor.

John and Edna Luckman founded the Gambler’s Book Club in their home in 1964 as a hobby. They started with 18 titles on gambling that they sold through mail order. When John retired as a floor person at the Tropicana, he and Edna rented a storefront on Charleston.

The Luckmans began publishing gaming books soon after opening the GBC, including several titles John wrote — a library that eventually would number more than 250 works. GBC Press published the first ever Texas hold’em book in 1976.

The GBC became home to illustrious authors such as John Scarne, Walter Gibson (of The Shadow fame), Lem Banker, Stanford Wong and the great Harry Houdini.

When John died in 1987, Edna continued on, eventually passing ownership to longtime trusted manager Schwartz when she died in 1989.

With time running out, the GBC reached out to a longtime customer and friend of the store, Avery Cardoza, who also was their biggest book supplier (and creditor). After on and off talks, they struck a deal.

It was also a good strategic fit, bringing together two legendary brand names — GBC and Cardoza Publishing, the world’s largest publisher of gambling books.

"I wanted to revive the luster and nostalgia of the GBC in its glory days and at the same time bring it in line with the modern era," Cardoza said.

Cardoza increased the GBC’s title list to over 3,000 gaming books and multimedia products – by far the largest any store has ever carried – and added more sports handicapping titles, plus playing cards, dice, gaming felts, memorabilia, Mafia titles, and non-casino gaming books on chess, bridge and backgammon.

The bookstore has been featured in over 100 books, as well as Playboy, GQ and other magazines. On any given day, you might find poker legend Doyle Brunson discussing his book Super System or his exploits during the rough and tumble days of yore.

Casino owners Steve Wynn, Jackie Gaughan and Jack Binion have purchased books on casino management and customer service. Ex-mobsters, FBI agents, best-selling authors, legendary screenwriters such as William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), and gaming researchers regularly shop there.

GBC has even been credited in the hit movies Rounders and Casino. It also has hosted book signings by famous gaming authors, including Nick Pileggi (Casino and Wise Guys), and Poker Hall of Famers Brunson, Amarillo Slim Preston and T.J. Cloutier.

The new GBC – located at 5473 S. Eastern Ave. (between Tropicana and Russell, just 10 minutes east of the Strip) – has brought back the old traditions with vintage photos and Las Vegas gambling memorabilia in a facility with double the office space.

GBC also produces bi-weekly podcasts with famous authors for its extensive website and is gearing up for live webcasts in its newly built, high-tech video production facility next-door.

Store hours are 9 a.m. till 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Phone (702) 382-7555 for what has always been the very best in gaming material.