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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Betting Baseball, Cat House books updated; King Con good choices

27 March 2008

Here's a "variety pack" of new arrivals for you -- key factors by which to bet baseball; an updated cat house directory and the story of legendary hustler Soapy Smith. A little something for everyone, so let's take them in order:

Michael Murray's 2008 edition of Betting Baseball (215 pages, paperbound, $24.95) tops the list because the season is under way. In more than two dozen vital chapters, Murray discusses when to bet games; betting on streaks; the run line; the money line; betting totals; interleague play; measuring offense and the home field advantage just for starters. He offers valuable advice on measuring bullpen effectiveness; how the line is created; the effects of ballpark design on the amount of scoring for both teams; examines ballpark layouts and then puts the spotlight on the impact of umpires -- their quirks or prejudices you might say (including what he calls "homer umpires") and how they affect the number of runs scored.

Many of Murray's "study areas" are secrets some of the best baseball handicappers have kept under their hats for many years. He's a mixture of physics, Bill James' statistics; careful, "observational study" and record-keeping skills. For players waiting for that all important "spot" situations when a certain group of factors and the money line or total are bet, Murray's book is a super reference source, packed with angles, ideas and valuable statistics.

J.R. Schwartz (no relation to this reviewer) has updated an all-time best-seller. It is now called The Official Brothel Guide to the Best Cat Houses in Nevada (181 pages, paperbound, $$12.95). Schwartz, who lives in Idaho (his address is in the book and he refers readers to a web site for periodic updates), lists names, phone numbers, addresses, offers maps, history, an index of establishments, definitions of terms used in the industry, plus selected "menus" of what's available, sample ads and some history of the occupation. In many cases, owners are listed, the hours the brothels are open, and even "etiquette guidelines" are included in this unique, up-front guidebook.

Jane Haigh has written the first full biography of notorious con man Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith. Titled King Con (119 pages, paperbound, $9.95), it is illustrated, indexed and contains a valuable bibliography and additional references for future researchers. Smith only lived 38 years (he died in 1898), but what a legacy of cons, scams, hustles he left behind. He associated with grifters, fleeced "marks" in Colorado and Alaska (he centered much of his activities in Skagway), using well-wrapped bars of soap (hence his nickname) as prizes for those who mastered (or thought they had mastered) the "shell game." It was a time of gold fever, brutal gang activity and the early days of the Mounted Police in Canada and some of the first "dollar stores." This is a fast-moving, colorful book about Smith and the wild and woolly 19th Century.

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