Moe Dalitz

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Also, updated championship poker book

In his newest expose, Mr. Mob, The Life and Crimes of Moe Dalitz (292 pgs, $45.00), Michael Newton investigates the life and legacy of mafia kingpin Moe Dalitz, whose influence on old Las Vegas still impacts the newest version of Neon City.

Meticulously documenting the mobster’s comings and goings with facts from every source imaginable, Newton has written an impressive biography of the leader of one of crime’s most infamous families. Many of his nefarious transactions in Las Vegas were revealed from a bug planted with J. Edgar Hoover’s approval under a conference table in the old Desert Inn’s executive office in 1962.

Paradoxically, Dalitz postured himself as a Nevada philanthropist who donated vast sums of money to charitable causes, including $300,000 for construction of a local YMCA, a $25,000 pledge to support education and a fund raiser for a Catholic church. “We’re trying to be civic minded here,” he said, all the while skimming big money from the DI, Flamingo, Fremont and Sands casinos.

As an indication of Dalitz’s influence on Vegas, 350 mourners showed up for his funeral in 1989, including ex-governor Grant Sawyer, Vegas mayor Ron Lurie and ex-sheriff Ralph Lamb. The respectability that these prominent Vegasites lent to his death belied the truth of his life, which Newton so ably documents:

“Dalitz was active in various fields of organized crime from 1918 until his death, all while spinning a web of myth and mock-respectability around himself so dense that decades after his demise, most mistake the legend for the reality.”

No mistake about it—Mr. Mob is an absorbing must-read for everybody interested in mob history and the Las Vegas of yesterday. The book’s extensive bibliography and index add further credence to Newton’s page-turner.

Turning to kingpins of poker, Hall of Famer T.J. Cloutier and World Champion Tom McEvoy have transformed their original edition of Championship No-Limit Hold’em (and Pot-Limit Hold’em) (344 pgs, $19.95) into an updated and vital how-to-win poker book that deserves an expedient reread. Their first version in 1997 was deservedly hailed as one of the factors that led to the rebirth of no-limit hold’em, along with Moneymaker’s 2003 championship win and pocket cams that revealed hole cards to TV audiences.

Departing from the format of I-said-he-said dialogue between the two authors, they have integrated their commentary with an intelligent, incisive edit and an up-to-date revision of their strategies. They dissect and delve into different styles of play such as conservative, aggressive and small-ball approaches to winning no-limit (and pot-limit) cash games and tournaments, with multiple new hand pix to illustrate the how-to of each strategy.

The authors also have added new chapters, including online and small-ball/big-ball strategies, winding up with McEvoy’s account of the action when he won the WSOP’s Champion of Champions tournament last year and T.J.’s signature road stories.

Championship No-Limit Hold’em deserves the gold bracelet for best update and re-write of the year, and places among my top 10 must-read poker books. The authors have also revised and updated the other books in their Championship series, and are coming out with a new book on how to win H.O.R.S.E. poker tournaments next year.

Another publication that deserves mention is Pointwise ($8), a weekly tip sheet for college and NFL handicappers. Gamblers Book Club is the only venue in Vegas that carries this nifty up-to-the-minute pub, which arrives each Tuesday afternoon at the GBC showroom around 4:00 p.m. Looks like you’ll have to grab it fast, though, as the store clerk tells me that each week’s shipment usually sells out within a day.

These books and thousands of other titles are available at Gambler’s Book Club in Las Vegas. You can order them at www.gamblersbookclub.com, where you can view the store’s complete line of books, or by phone at 1-800-522-1777, M-F 9-7 and Sat 10-6. Opened in 1964, GBC is located at 5473 S. Eastern between Tropicana and Russell, just a short drive from the Strip.

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