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Best books of 2003

Nov 11, 2003 7:18 AM

Surely 2003 will be remembered as the year in which live poker and video poker achieved their highest levels of popularity. And that popularity fueled a corresponding interest in books on their respective subjects.

With an eye toward the upcoming holidays, the Gambler’s Book Shop in Las Vegas has compiled a list of the 12 most popular gambling-related books for 2003.

The rankings are based on customer response, specifically book sales and resulting reaction from customers.

In addition, a few books made the list, based on customer demand, often times for a book sight unseen. It’s hard to ignore an army of enthusiasts, money in hand, clamoring for a title based on hearsay alone!

Here’s the sacred dozen (not in any order of priority) with a thumbnail profile for each:

Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People (270 pages, $24.95 hardbound). Written by Slim with poker expert Greg Dinkin, this is one of the most colorful, humorous, yet informative books ever about a high-profile personality and poker player. Illustrated, filled with stories about characters including hustlers and con men, it also contains some solid poker playing advice with truths about life and its parallels to the game itself.

Phantoms of the Card Table (250 pages, $40, hardbound). Written by David Britland and ever-colorful "Gazzo," this is about a search for Walter Irving Scott (Gazzo found him after a long search). Scott was considered "the greatest man ever with a pack of cards." It’s also a history of card manipulation, magic, the evolution of unique skills and how each great card expert learned and passed on skills to the next generation.

Gambling Wizards (306 pages, $19.95, paperbound). Written and compiled by the talented Richard Munchkin, this book focuses on some of the nation’s most successful players including Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese in poker; Tommy Hyland in blackjack; Billy Walters, sports bettor; and Mike Svobodny, backgammon. The question-answer format brings out secrets, angles, ploys, and strategies known previously only to professionals. Munchkin gives you some of the most fascinating insights ever into the minds of big-time bettors who have won millions.

Million Dollar Video Poker (262 pages, paperbound, $16.95). Written by Bob Dancer, it is both a biography of the nation’s most successful video poker player (how he started, how he developed a method for beating the various machines and hitting jackpots) and a "how-to-win" guide for those who take the game very seriously.

Positively Fifth Street (422 pages, hardbound, $26). James McManus’ book was one of the rare books related to gambling (on the subject of poker) ever to make the best-seller list. It’s about the author’s adventures in Las Vegas””in particular, his experience of making it to the final table at the world-famous Binion’s World Series of Poker””and as a first-time rank amateur.

Bringing Down the House (257 pages, paperbound, $14). Written by Ben Mezrich, who befriended and gained the trust of the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology blackjack counting teams of the 1990s. This is a fascinating look into how blackjack teams are formed, trained and go into action, "playing large and winning big." Anyone planning to be a counter or dreaming of the easy life should read this one. It’s been optioned as a movie by actor Kevin Spacey.

Of Rats and Men (419 pages, hardbound, $25.95). Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Smith, who also wrote Running Scared, the biography of Steve Wynn and No Limit, a bio on Bob Stupak, here profiles one of the nation’s most colorful and controversial mayors, Oscar Goodman. A former criminal defense lawyer, Goodman knew the mob, how they operated and how the federal prosecutors played their own game. Today, Goodman, at the helm of the nation’s fastest growing city has his own views about Las Vegas’ future.

Internet Poker (202 pages, paperbound, $14.95). Lou Krieger (he wrote Hold’em Excellence and Gambling for Dummies), collaborates with Kathleen Keller Watterson to produce the first major work covering one of the hottest areas of gambling. It’s a survival guide to playing and beating online poker games and includes how to sign up and buy in; choosing and joining a game; what adjustments need to be made compared to a live game; the "all-in" move; online etiquette; legality; internet and the law; money management and record-keeping.

Betting on Myself (228 pages, hardbound, 24.95), Written by Steve Crist, now an executive with the Daily Racing Form, this biography of a betting man who’s met them all, trainers, owners, jockeys, writers, the greatest names in thoroughbred racing, plus the biggest names in handicapping. Colorful travels and adventures of a talented individual who seen the betting windows as much as the backstretch of major racetracks.

Sports Gaming Beat (104 pages, spiralbound, $29.95). Steve Nover also wrote Las Vegas Sportsbeat in 1997. It is a compilation of articles about sports bettors, bad beats, characters, systems, oddball happenings. This is his newest effort, a continuation of his best sports betting articles, with a focus on the major sports; touts; lucky and unlucky happenings; a look at the offshore operations (the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly); the last days of some of the industry’s greats and pioneers.

A Family Affair: Harold’s Club and the Smiths Remembered (322 pages, hardbound, $24.95). Compiled from interviews by Dwayne Kling and R.T. King, it’s about one of the most colorful and innovative casino owners ever””Pappy Smith, his sons Harold and Raymond. They were geniuses who broke virtually every rule in the book in regard to management and business, and for two decades owned one of the most successful operators in the state.

Crushing Internet Casinos (63 pages, paperbound, $49.95). Written by Barry Meadow who also wrote Money Secrets at the Race Track and Blackjack Autumn, it’s about surviving and thriving in cyber casino life; internet advantage play; taking time to evaluate bonus situations; how internet casinos operate; worrying about not getting paid or the slow pay; the necessity for camouflaging your identity; the role of the customer support department; free money; VIP programs; casinos to avoid; paying taxes. This book was due to be published November 2003 and there’s a long waiting list for it. (I was told it’s at the printers. It’s due very soon.)

There you have it””a list that could cause controversy because of some "omissions, but one that’s based on our most-requested-book reports. Use it as a guide for a holiday gift or a treat for yourself or a friend. It should save you some browsing time.

For more information, contact the Gambler’s Book Shop in Las Vegas at (800) 522-1777.