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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Gaming history, sports betting, hockey mag and craps guide have wide appeal

4 September 2008

Have an old collectible chip and wondering about when the place that issued it opened or closed and where it was located -- as far back as the 1930s? Need a craps book to steer you to smarter bets or one that explains the various bets including odds and wrong bets? Have a friend who's got many questions about sports betting that you don't have the patience to answer? And finally, with pro hockey opening its 2008-09 season in October, where can you find a schedule, rosters and team evaluations and predictions on same?

Well, here are the four resources that answer most of those questions and a few more:

The late, great Harvey Fuller, who is revered as one of the most respected and authoritative chip collectors of our time, compiled a book which has just been reprinted after being unavailable for years. Titled Index of Nevada Gaming Establishments: 1931-1981 (56 pages, 8x11 plastic spiralbound, $30), this wonderful resource has two major sections, listing gaming establishments by name in alphabetical order, then by city, with lists of what games were available at the time (including some obsolete ones like faro, barbouti, hazzard, Klondike and chuck-a-luck). There are some informational gaps here (listed with a question mark), but the format is both time-saving and unique. For example, the old Apache Casino opened March 19, 1932 and closed in 1941 (in Las Vegas), and the Li'l Red Barn in Reno opened Dec. 14, 1953 and closed June 14, 1956, offering slots and roulette as the only games. Some establishments were open a short time, less than a year perhaps, often making the chips they issued (and which survived) even more valuable.

It's a fine historical resource, for collectors and those who may have heard from friends or relatives about long gone, colorful houses of action.

Michael Kochan has written an interesting although somewhat fundamental book titled Secrets of Professional Sports Betting: 88 Powerful Winning Concepts for Making Money at Football, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey and More (252 pages, 5x8 paperbound, $19.95). Published in late summer 2008, the book is divided into 17 chapters. Subjects discussed include the pointspread, money line, totals wagers, money management, maintaining discipline, keeping records, making quality bets, parlays, halftime bets, middling and the coaching factor. There are 17 pages on betting pro football including the importance of the starting quarterback, the impact of injuries and road teams. Four pages are devoted to baseball, including wagering on hot pitchers and betting totals. Twenty pages are devoted to pro basketball, including finding value with injuries and betting totals. Only two pages look at college hoops betting. Hockey and tennis get a page each in attention. The book has little gems tucked away, and although it would seem to be overpriced, it does come along at a time when sports betting is gaining in popularity and newcomers want short, simple ideas to get them started.

No-Nonsense Craps (The Consummate Guide to Winning at the Crap Table) by Richard Orlyn (100 pages, 5x8 paperbound, $12.95) is an excellent choice for beginners or the confused occasional player who needs an update or refresher course on the smartest bets compared to the best ones, their odds, the House edge and table etiquette. In 16 detailed chapters that move easily as you read, the author rationalizes which bets are even worth considering, and explains why while providing illustrations and definitions. The author believes there is no such thing as a "foolproof" system, and he discusses why some bets are more popular than others. His approach makes for some easy reading in this nice little guide to intelligent play.

Yes, hockey is just around the corner. There are few resources for the bettor beyond the Internet, but the Sporting News Hockey magazine (144 pages, $7.99) gives both player and fantasy leaguer a big informational boost. Schedules, showing home vs. away games; rosters, including birth dates, height, weight, who they played for last season, key statistics, especially important for those who value the numbers goal tenders put up, are listed. Who are the "impact rookies"? Or the enforcers? What are the key off-season moves? How are team power ratings made to begin the season; how do the teams rank in various categories vs. the rest of the league; and how many wins have teams produced in the past five years? The magazine also rates players by position for the fantasy leaguers. Overall, nicely done at a decent price.
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