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Gaming Guru

 

'Havana Nocturne,' 'Tales of Old Las Vegas' colorfully done

10 September 2009

Whether it's Cuba or Las Vegas, anytime someone tells some new stories or outlines past, colorful history about the people, the characters, those special times gone by, it's usually good reading. T.J. English's Havana Nocturne -- How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution (396 pages, paperbound, $15.99) and Sam O'Connor's Tales of Old Las Vegas (253 pages, paperbound, $22.95) are two of the best for late-summer reading or as gift items for the old-timer trying to renew old memories.

English, who authored books on the Irish and Asian mobs previously, details the rise and fall of key members of the U.S. mob and the Cuban regime, including Meyer Lansky and Fulgencio Batista, who later became the island's dictator. This book has stories and background of some of the most famous, notorious and legendary names (and places) of gambling and organized crime, plus background on the famous 1946 Havana Conference (remember it from "Godfather II").

The book traces the Las Vegas-Florida-New York-Cuban connection from the pre-Bugsy Siegel days to when Castro overthrew the Batista regime in the late 1950s. Packed with sources, resources and references to key interviews the work is also marvelously indexed and illustrated, making it easy to find key names and places of the past.

O'Connor's Tales of Old Las Vegas harks back to the colorful 1960s, days when the entertainers, the gamblers, the hustlers and the colorful characters hung around the tables of the old Dunes, Boulder Club and the original Golden Nugget. These were the days when customers could rub elbows with the famous and infamous.

O'Connor, who himself dealt hold'em during these early years when the game was in its infancy (it caught fire as THE game in the 1970s), paints a fascinating picture of the city's growth downtown and on the Strip through the eyes and experiences of the people he met and the stories they told him. If O'Connor's name is familiar, he also authored How to Dominate $1 and $2 No-Limit Hold'em, one of the top-selling titles in the genre.
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