Top Ten Books Ever Written About Gambling
There is an unprecedented number of gambling books available on the market. Unfortunately, many of them are lined with anecdotes and strategies that have no realistic application, and are frankly a waste of time. Gambling is a real life activity and players require accurate and practical information. Our 2020 short list of the best books on gambling will offer just that.
Some titles are specific to casino gambling, or sports betting. Others focus on a particular game, like video poker, hold’em poker, or blackjack. A few of the titles are also biographies of important people in gambling history. Although less technical, these gamblers books will teach you practical lessons from the real life experiences narrated in the stories.
It’s not possible to get all the worthy titles on the list, but we made sure to include all those at the top of the chain.
Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong
Sharp Sports Betting is centered on the NFL (National Football League) and provides insight on betting on the popular American sports association through March Madness and down to the Super Bowl.
You’ll find tips on handicapping, including:
- Futures (season wins)
- Money Line
- Spread bets
In our opinion, this is one of the best books for gambling ever written. This one is a tough read with many unfamiliar concepts and quite a bit of jargon too. So the author clearly doesn’t sacrifice usefulness for readability.
It starts off with chapters on how to place bets and money management - two concepts that are pertinent to being a responsible gambler. Then the author takes us through basic maths calculations about placing straight bets as well as other handicapping options. The level of accuracy is light years away from many other books with seemingly useful information.
We’ve had to read it a couple of times and take notes in the process. But in our expert view at Cardozabooks, the wealth of information offered is priceless.
Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich
Bringing Down the House tells the story of six MIT students win millions from the top Las Vegas casinos over two years using the card counting strategy.
This best-selling story has been done and redone but none is as comprehensive as Ben Mezrich’s version. He recounts the tale in a way that makes the book appear like a fictional novel rather than a non-fiction gambling guide. He writes a gripping narrative filled with twists and moments of high tension.
The book focuses mainly on the story of the protagonists, but along the way readers will acquire enough information about the basics of card counting. Sine it is so detailed, we also get insight to the tips and tricks the protagonists used in card counting that enabled them “bring down the house.”
This one is certainly not your typical book on gambling, but for many, it has been the inspiration to get into playing blackjack.
Beat the Dealer by Edward O. Thorp
Beat The Dealer is the original card counting manual that was published in 1962. The book gives readers detailed explanations on basic strategy, winning strategy and other betting systems applicable on the blackjack table.
Ideal for both beginners and pros, it starts off as a guide to the basic rules of the game and progresses steadily to more complicated theories on card counting and considerations on science versus chance. It also contains consolidated charts and real stories of how the strategies worked in practice.
Apparently Ben Mezrich’s protagonists in Bringing Down the House took inspiration from Edward Thorp. Thorp was a math genius and his work earned him the title “Father of Card Counting.” He was the first to prove that card counting is a feasible strategy, and all other authors have only released imitations of his theory. The book has sold more than 700,000 copies and is the go-to for both novices and seasoned players.
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
The idea behind the popular James Bond series was first penned down by Ian Fleming over 50 years ago. The story follows Bond, a spy who is on a mission to stop terrorist financier Le Chiffre in a game of high stakes Baccarat. Set in a high roller casino in Royale-les-Eaux in France, Fleming takes you on a rollercoaster journey of cards, bets, guns, MI6, CIA and Soviet Agents.
When we consider books about casinos, it’s impossible to sidetrack this classic. Although a work of fiction, it is one of the greatest books about gamblers. Bonds gaming skills may have been exaggerated a bit but we’ll let it slide, since the book is just that good. It doesn’t particularly give any insights to casino gambling strategies but it does a fantastic job of introducing players to a world they probably never knew before.
Positively Fifth Street by James McManus
This book is a narrative of the World Series of Poker of the year 2000. It also recounts the murder of WSOP creator, Ted Binion and the trial of the topless dancer and her boyfriend who were accused of the crime.
The book will explore the writer’s adventures during the world-renowned tournament. Suspense filled scenes will keep you at the edge of your seat as the story highlights on greed, murder and “tons and tons of luck,” according to the ending chapter.
An avid gambler himself, McManus gives a thrilling account of the events that took place during the 2000 WSOP. He manages to narrate real life events using amazing literary prowess. So he wasn’t just a gambler but a great writer too. There isn’t much technical knowledge about poker strategies but it’s a must-read for anyone with an interest in gambling.
The Professor, The Banker, And The Suicide King by Michael Craig
Andy Beal is Craig’s protagonist, and an amateur player who devises strategies to defeat several high-profile gamblers in the Bellagio casino, Las Vegas. He did win some of the time, but his number of losses were greater. Beal would eventually quit after losing a whopping $16 million in a night. Still, he didn’t give up completely and returned to the gaming table two years later.
It’s far from an instructional manual on gambling but the portrayal of real life action on the poker table provides a solid stream of knowledge on the basics of the game and how it plays in practice. Players can learn from why Beal lost or won when he did. The group of pros listed in the book include famous poker players like Ted Forest, Phil Ivey and Jennifer Harman. So we also get a glimpse of how these experts think and the betting patterns they apply.
The Frugal Gambler by Jean Scott
Many books and gambling guides tend to give the impression that high rollers are the only ones who can actually benefit from gambling. Based on the concept of risk-reward, it’s not entirely false. But this can be very discouraging for low stakes players.
In her book, Scott doesn’t debunk this idea. Instead, she focuses on showing how she got the maximum value from her low roller bets in the gambling parlors of Las Vegas. Each chapter has a rich content of tips and tricks on how to get a small mathematical edge over the house.
Her experimentation on combining comp programs and the highest payout video poker games is genius. The book further highlights other effective ways to take advantage of comps and gain flight benefits among other perks.
Roll the Bones by David G. Schwartz
This one is similar to Michael Craig’s novel that recounts the success and failures of gamblers. However, while Craig’s book is set in a fixed timeline and centers on a single character, Schwartz shares the histories of gamblers from the stone ages through to the era of the internet.
Roll the Bones is arguably the most thorough write-up on the history of gambling. Presented in chronological order, you’ll learn about the evolution of this pastime in different areas of the world especially Western Europe, the US, Native America and China. The book explores card games from the past and present and shares several accounts of the failures and success of renowned gamblers such as Voltaire and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Schwartz also touches on arguments concerning the controversial position of gambling within the society. He doesn’t end without making thought provoking considerations about the future.
It is clear that a huge amount of effort and research was put into creating this piece. Schwartz certainly deserves commendation, and Roll the Bones is highly recommended by Cardozabooks.
Dueling With Kings by Daniel Barbarisi
DFS is a modern day culture predominant in the US. This book is a great introduction to this area of sportsbetting for the unaware and is also an entertaining read for every gambling enthusiast.
The author was a journalist and an avid sports fan who suffered several losses for years. The books explains how he decided to get close to expert bettors to learn the secrets behind their success.
Although fictional, we found spot on considerations of the business and legal aspects of the DFS. Barbarisi details the fast growing DFS gambling scene and intricate points on how to bet on daily fantasy sports, with major focus on fantasy hockey.
Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways by Andrew Brisman
Brisman’s book is a middle ground between the technical strategy books on gambling and your everyday guide for dummies. It dedicates chapters to individual games, providing enough information to get a clear understanding of each one.
The list of games covered include:
- Slot Machines
- Video Poker
- Caribbean Stud Poker
- Let it Ride
- Pai Gow Poker
- Sports Betting
- Other Casino Games
The gambling scene has changed a lot since this book was published in 2004. Some games are less important today and new variants are gaining players’ interests. Nonetheless, the bulk of the games discussed are still relevant and the information, very pertinent even in the present day. For us at Cardozabooks, this guide remains one of the best explanations of how casino gambling works.
These free gambling books are always available at any gamblers bookstore Las Vegas. You’ll also find several of them online.
Cardozabooks has found each one of these titles very useful. Wong and Thorpe offer more hardcore books on gambling psychology, while Craig and Mezrich’s titles are based on human experiences, and therefore, more emotive. Whichever style you think is best suited to you, you’ll find a valuable resource to make your time at the casino, a potentially more profitable one.