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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Enjoy history of gambling -- it's full of colorful stories

3 June 2009

Often, when visitors arrive in Las Vegas, they want to know a little bit about the history of the city as well as the games they'll soon play. Cab drivers, dealers, casino hosts and tour guides are queried about many facets of the industry. A knowledgeable individual, well-versed in the deep, rich history of the city and how things came about, is appreciated and sometimes it makes a difference in a well-earned toke. While we're not expecting a tip, we're offering here a select group of references worth having in your gaming library so you too might join the "fraternity of the knowledgeable."

Des Wilson's Ghosts at the Table (342 pages, hardbound, $26) concentrates on one of the most popular games of all time -- poker. Wilson describes riverboat gamblers, cheaters, the growth of gaming on the Internet, and many living legends of the game. Indexed and illustrated, it's about Wild Bill Hickok and his infamous "aces and eights" final hand in 1876, about round hustlers, how the game evolved from the popularity of draw and stud to modern day hold'em, about tournaments, the World Series of Poker and some of the biggest known cash games of our time.

A. Alvarez's Poker: Bets, Bluffs and Bad Beats (127 pages, paperbound, $18.95) illustrates, in color, what the earliest gambling paraphernalia looked like -- playing cards, chips and the weaponry gamblers hid in their clothing as they played. Alvarez covers great moments and great players in tournament history, movie highlights where poker took the spotlight including an analysis of the final climactic showdown hand involving the Cincinnati Kid and Lancey Howard, rare photos of men like Benny Binion and Nick the Greek.

Total Poker by David Spanier (257 pages, paperbound, $16.95) is a longtime favorite and best-seller. Which presidents enjoyed the game and which were the best? It's here, with a history of the game from the earliest days along with a profile of the late, great, colorful Pug Pearson and more stuff on the finest poker or gambling movies such as "House of Games" and "A Big Hand for the Little Lady."

The First 100 (Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas), edited by A.D. Hopkins and K.J. Evans (361 pages, paperbound, $19.95), was published a decade ago, but it remains one of the most valuable resources ever, for its illustrations, historic facts and in-depth material on people like Moe Dalitz, Del Webb, Kirk Kerkorian, Howard Hughes, Jay Sarno, Bugsy Siegel and Benny Binion among others. Entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Liberace and Elvis Presley each made contributions to the growth and image of the city and they too are profiled, along with lawyers, pioneers, politicians and humanitarians.
Enjoy history of gambling -- it's full of colorful stories is republished from Online.CasinoCity.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
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