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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

New Binion bio fascinating, two new "Killer Poker" titles arrive

24 January 2007

Ask a 100 people which Las Vegas legend or character they'd like to read more about, and about half would probably mention Benny Binion, the man who took poker from the backrooms and backroads to the neon lights. To satisfy the curious, there¹s a new book out about Benny (who died Christmas Day, 1989) with a fascinating title of I'll Do My Own Damn Killin - Benny Binion, Herbert Noble and the Texas Gambling War (264 pages, hard bound, $22), written by Gary Sleeper.

In addition, two new books for poker enthusiasts have arrived at Gambler¹s Book Shop, Killer Poker By The Numbers (The Mathematical Edge for Winning Play) by Tony Guerrera (310 pages, paperbound, $14.95) and Killer Poker No Limit (A Winning Strategy for Cash Games and Tournaments) by John Vorhaus (265 pages, paperbound, $14.95).

Lester Benny Binion was a Las Vegas icon. As the owner of one of the most colorful, exciting casinos he took some of the biggest bets, hobnobbed with some of the most famous gamblers and characters of the 20th Century and helped make poker "the" game for generations to come. Most never knew his past. Most didn't care. Yet generations of visitors and players remain fascinated with his ability to understand what gamblers and visitors to Binion¹s Horseshoe Club wanted.

He was a pioneer, a rebel, a survivor. But it wasn't easy. He grew up during hard times when competition for the gambling dollar was rough, dangerous.

This book traces his past from his earliest days in Dallas to his run-ins with police and hard-nosed competitors who wanted a bigger chunk of the action than Binion was willing to give. As it was in the Old West, they carried guns in public in Dallas in the 30s and 40s and they weren¹t afraid to use them.

A good portion of the book focuses on a bitter feud between Binion and Herbert Noble for control of Dallas and Fort Worth. Included is a description of Noble¹s bizarre plot to bomb Las Vegas from a private plane.

While Binion¹s reputation in Las Vegas is established and has been chronicled many times over, this is the story for the most part, of his pre-Las Vegas days, about illegal gambling operations in Dallas, and his early days when Las Vegas was little more than a wide space in the narrow stretch of highway snaking its way from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City." (In 1946, the town¹s population was 16,000).

The author, an attorney and historian, lives in Plano Texas. The book is part history, part biography and is packed with plenty of true crime material.

Killer Poker by the Numbers, written by Caltech graduate Guerrera. Uses mathematics as its primary tool in teaching any level player, beginner pro, to gain an edge in holdŒem.

The book, with seven major sections, presents non-technical material on probability, permutations and combinations concerning starting hands and hand distribution. Guerrera, well-aware that players constantly seek new ways of improving their game, offers hand analyses and a means of understanding EV (expected value). He discusses unpaired and paired flops and how to play them; how to win with pocket pairs and when flopping a set or better, how to gain maximum value.

Vital chapter emphasize ways to play draws from early and late position and playing short-handed. Overall the book overall is a goldmine of ideas, explanation and concept-testing situations .And the math is well explained. An eight-page index makes it easy to locate a specific concept.

Vorhaus' Killer Poker No-Limit fills a need for those who love the cash games and want to get into tournament play as well. Already the author of a half-dozen well-received books, he has a solid reputation in the poker community.

Here he discusses how to develop your own style of play and teaching you how to define and categorize opponents¹ play. Vorhaus offers advice on playing suited aces; problem flops and how to avoid underbetting in specific situations.

The book includes an examination of "orphan flops" (so called because these are types of cards "sensible" players are not likely to play); the importance of table image; bankroll requirements and using your powers of observation to identify and classify opponents.

Also, he suggests methods to shift your style of play and how to mentally adjust to tournament play. Overall, it provides a leg up for those who haven¹t yet mastered their no-limit hold¹em skills.

Any item reviewed here is available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club). The store's web site is www.gamblersbook.com. You may order there using MasterCard, VISA or Discover (no CODs please) or by phoning the store any day except Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time at 1-800-522-1777. Orders usually shipped the next working day. The store, now in its 40th year, is located a mile from downtown Las Vegas, a block west of Maryland Parkway, just off Charleston Boulevard at South 11th Street. You may view the store's complete array of books, videos and software via the Web site or request a hard copy of the catalog be mailed free and first class. The store's address is 630 S. 11th St., Las Vegas, NV 89101.

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