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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

For stories and advice, read 'Deal Me In,' 'Ultimate Edge'

19 August 2009

One of the more interesting books for poker players fascinated with how world-class players achieved their success -- mixed with advice for hopefuls -- is Deal Me In, compiled by Stephen John and Marvin Karlins (287 pages, paperbound, $24.95).

Another new arrival might be categorized as a "sleeper" in the sense that people began to hear rumors about an interesting title through word of mouth and asked about it. This title is The Ultimate Edge (Professional Blackjack in the 1980s) (433 pages, paperbound, $18.95) by Mark Billings.

Deal Me In, in which 20 world-class players share "the heartbreaking and inspiring stories of how they turned pro," is slick, well illustrated in color (many illustrations provided by the respected Larry Grossman) and divided into two main categories: Big Guns and Young Guns. Among the Big Guns are Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Howard Lederer, Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, Scotty Nguyen, Chris Ferguson, Carlos Mortensen, Erik Seidel, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey. The Young Guns are Tom Dwan, Annette Obrestad and Peter Eastgate.

You'll get a glimpse of their beginnings, bad beats, philosophies, career highlights and a smattering of advice.

There's little if any specific advice on key hands or which hands to play, but you'll find a smooth, entertaining presentation of each player, their hopes, dreams, approaches to the game and how to reach their Web sites. Overall, a smoothly compiled, perfect gift item for those who idolize the bigger names of the game and want to know more about them.

Mark Billings's The Ultimate Edge is a look back at what many might call "the golden days" of the game -- depending on which generation you're from. Billings, who knows 21 well, tells readers about a counting team, active from Las Vegas to Monte Carlo in 21 chapters, and their successes, adventures and theories of the game.

The author recounts big wins, mathematical approaches to the game, the team's use of Thorp's Beat the Dealer and Revere's Playing Blackjack as a Business and using a hidden computer at the table. Billings discusses card counting and designing your own card-counting system, and includes an interesting section on shuffle tracking.

With a nine-page index of names, places and book titles, it's a rather eclectic approach to the game. You might say it has something for everyone. There's a minor error here and there (Douglas County in Northern Nevada has only one "s" not two), but overall, the team's adventures are a great read.
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