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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

'American Casino Guide' super value; 'Beating the Odds' revealing

19 November 2009

The American Casino Guide (2010 edition), written and edited by Steve Bourie, could be the biggest bargain of the year in regards to a book that's guaranteed to pay for itself immediately. The 496-page tome (paperbound, $18.95), which is really three books in one, does a remarkable job of explaining positive strategies for playing casino games, telling you where casinos are state by state and how to contact them and offering more than $1,000 in discount coupons for food, lodging, car rentals and for use in match play situations.

Bourie's book is a new arrival as is Brandon Lang's biography (co-authored by Stanley Cohen), titled Beating the Odds: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of a Sports Handicapper(hardbound, 249 pages, $24.95).

The American Casino Guide's arrival is perfect, in time for a holiday gift item, for occasional or first-time Las Vegas visitors or for use by anyone who loves a bargain (show tickets, extra slot play, two-for-one buffet, free drinks and of course, the match play coupons). Folks who love to travel, RV aficionados and snowbirds in particular, will find the book helpful in locating casinos in more than 40 states, with maps, phone numbers, Web sites, hours of operation, toll-free numbers, golf courses, buffets, types of games offered (when known), even payback percentages on machines when information is available. This fantastic time-saver with coupons good until the end of 2010 will fit in a large purse or glove compartment. The first 90 or so pages of the book are written by gaming experts who offer advice on the best way to play slots, video poker, blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat. There's vital material on how to take advantage of slot clubs (for further freebies) and ideas for playing in slot tournaments.

Bourie's book also lists racetracks, Indian casinos and riverboats. Overall, a bargain hunter's delight -- as priced-right a value as there's ever been.

Remember the movie "Two for the Money," with Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey, released in 2005? Well, this is the story behind that movie. It's called Beating the Odds, and it's interesting and packed with ego. (Sports bettors or bet-takers know the term -- it's sometimes known as "being full of oneself" and that's what this book is about.) Lang tells a never-ending success story about himself. He's a self-made man -- colorful, skilled at sports handicapping, but opinionated as anyone you'll ever meet. He's met the rich and famous, been a Navy success and worked as a golf caddy for celebrities, the latter experience allowing him to offer some interesting insights about movie-making, Hollywood-types and making money.

He's had some very hot weeks handicapping. In 1993 he says he was 13-1 and he won $2 million for the service he worked for.

Perhaps the strength of the book is in allowing the reader-handicapper to get into a mindset. How does one handicap well, how does one mess it all up? Bet early or bet late? Why? One of the more interesting chapters is titled "A Brief History of Sports Gambling," and Lang does have some rationale for sports betting's legal expansion in his "Case for Sports Betting." He must have had plenty of help and support in the research, with six pages of acknowledgments.

Lang has a gift for gab, but anyone who knows the guy must have learned to live with it. The book accelerates and then slows at various chapters, so reading it is like we're trying to figure out who this guy is. It sounds like he's asking himself the same question.

Overall, although the book is a little overpriced and overhyped, for the average sports bettor who searches his own soul for an answer to the question "Who am I?" there may be things to be learned.
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com