A Vegas tour guide

Jan 1, 2007 5:04 AM

Maybe I’m biased. I enjoy discovering books and resources that can save people time and money, and I enjoy finding others that explain concepts many people have pondered for years. Two such titles have arrived at Gambler’s Book Shop recently. They are The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas (2007) (470 pages, paperbound, $17.99), compiled by Bob Sehlinger, and The Physics of Basketball by John Fontanella (149 pages, hardbound, $25).

Sehlinger’s Las Vegas guide offers maps, information about the time it might take you to go from one part of Las Vegas to another by car or taxi (depending on traffic, conventions and time of day) and what the benefits staying on the Strip might be compared to Downtown.

He lists major 2007 conventions to alert you to the scarcity of rooms at certain times of the year and who might be running through the lobby with a stuffed moose on their heads. He tells you what the weather is like in winter, day or night plus what web sites, publications will helpfully tell you which shows, entertainers are featured each month.

As for shows, he indicates which are the best shows for adults and for families, whether there are special rates for conventioneers, and when it is best to buy a package from a tour operators or wholesaler.

How do the hotels compare in expense and location? Interested in the spa, tennis or golf, bowling, shopping, dining? Who is rated the best? The book rates the hotels. Who has RV facilities? Who do you call for more information? What are the toll-free numbers, web sites and how might you save on show tickets? You’ll find the answers here. And, the book profiles night clubs with a list of any cover charges, dress codes, open and closing times and the crowd you’ll see on the dance floor, whether food is served, if ladies get in free, and more.

There’s good material on the great variety of Las Vegas restaurants and whether you need reservations and how pricey they are. For those who want to get away from it all for a while, the various tours are listed, with how much time you can expect them to take (two hours to all day for example). Finally, for those who need some basic gaming advice, there’s a nice section for beginners on most major games with recommendation on which hotels offer the most for the buck.

Read this book before you arrive in Las Vegas. You’ll know where you’re going and why, with confidence.

The Physics of Basketball, written by a physics professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, is divided into five major chapters. The book has formulas, figures and illustration explaining everything from the physics of jump shots, to slam dunks, lay-ups, and maybe accidentally, in its own way, why the new NBA ball was rejected beyond the fact "it didn’t feel right." What are the effects of spin on the bounce? How important is proper wrist snap? How does ball velocity impact performance by a passer or shooter? The book may explain why there are terrible foul shooters and others who rarely miss.

This book is packed with what I’d call "fascinating facts which add clarity" to the game.

"An important aspect of a shot is the total time that the ball is in contact with the hand, that is, the release time. It is important to minimize the release time. Players who keep the ball in contact with the hand a very short time are said to have a quick release. Needless to say, players with a quick release are tougher to defend..."

Coaches, players, analysts and fans will find the book illuminating.

The author is also a former player and holds several still-existing scoring records at Westminster College of New Wilmington, PA. He’s also a die-hard fan of the game.

These books and more are available at Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club) in Las Vegas. The store’s web site is www.gamblersbook.com; you can call toll free at 1-800-522-1777.