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Reading for fun, profit!

Mar 2, 2004 12:18 AM

Education is available for the gambler and the person who wants to expand his or her understanding of the casino games, the gaming industry and the history of gambling.

There exists a vast collection of books that are often not available in the typical bookstore. Reader’s choices aren’t confined to dry tomes stating the rules and mathematics of the games but also more lively biographies and histories of famous gamblers and their adventures.

Besides the opportunity to learn the mechanics of the games, books often alter the way readers view the psychology of gambling and give them new insight in alternative ways to perceive the internal and external forces at work in a gambling session.

What follows is a partial list of some of my favorite books on the subjects of gambling and gaming. I’ve tried to confine the list to books that are still in print and available. So, try some of my choices or tell me about one of your favorites.

The 101 most asked questions about Las Vegas and casino gambling. By George Joseph, 2002, G & C Enterprises.

For those of you that have never taken the time to do any reading on gambling, this is a great book to start with. Joseph is a world-renowned gambling expert that has created a work that is as entertaining as it is enlightening.

Few books offer such diverse information on everything from how to play the games to the history of Vegas and explaining the jargon and slang us locals have grown to take for granted.

Despite the amount of information offered, the book is very readable, thanks in part to the author’s sense of humor. The book is rife with jokes and stories and makes references to some of the more recent movies about Vegas.

Loaded Dice. By John Soares, 1985, Taylor Enterprises.

A "crossroader" is a professional gambling cheat and is a word that will become part of your vocabulary by the time you have finished this riveting account of the life and career of John Soares.

Soares was part of a crew that specialized in cheating slot machines and crap tables. The amount of preparation they used is a testament to how much work some people will endure to make an easy living. The only thing more astounding than their work ethic is their audacity.

This book should be required reading for all casino employees since it demonstrates better than anything I have ever read that situations aren’t always as they appear.

The Green Felt Jungle. By Ed Reid and Ovid Demaris, 1963, Buccaneer Books.

No I’m not talking about a more recent book with the same title that is about the lives of pool hustlers, this book is about the origins of Las Vegas and how the mob infiltrated the casinos. This book is a must read for anyone that wants the real story of mob influence in Las Vegas.

The authors provide a detailed story of the mob’s acquisition, building and financing the resorts on Fremont Street and the strip. It names and describes the front men that held the gaming licenses to the gangsters that ran the resorts and the crooked politicians that kept them in business. From Bugsy Segal to Jimmy Hoffa, this book chronicles their rise and fall.

In the addendum to this book it states that the sale of "The Green Felt Jungle" was banned in Las Vegas stores for a while after its publication in 1963. Given the way it lays out the facts in such a succinct and authoritative fashion, I can believe that the powers that were, didn’t want this book to see the light of day.

Scarne’s New Complete Guide To Gambling. By John Scarne, 1974, Simon and Schuster.

Any serious research into a gambling topic begins with a trip to the index of what many consider to be the original and primary book on the topic of gambling games. While it is a bit too large for the exhaustive task it would be to read it cover to cover, it is perfect for familiarizing yourself with whatever game or gambling topic might be of interest to you.

Although it doesn’t include information on more modern games, such as "Let it Ride" and some pundits might consider some of the information on the more classic games outdated, this book belongs on the bookshelf of anyone that collects gaming books or does research.

Secrets of Winning Roulette. By Marten Jensen, 2000, Cardoza Publishing.

Don’t let the typical claim used in the title lure you into minimizing the valuable information that is presented in this book. Jensen has obviously done a great deal of research on the subject of roulette. He offers information on the history, playing instructions and payoff odds. He also demonstrates the mathematics of the game and how some operators have gaffed the game in the past.

One of my favorite chapters clearly explains the classic betting systems, such as the "martingale" and the "D’Alembert." In short, I can’t imagine there being a more comprehensive book on the subject.

The locals choice for finding any book on the subject of gambling is the "Gambler’s Book Shop" at 630 South 11th street in Las Vegas. And yes friends, they also sell my e-book titles "Precision Crap Dealing" and "Dealing Mini-Baccarat." Their phone number is (702) 382-7555 or visit