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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

New Mid-limit Hold'em book; horse racing insights refreshing

10 December 2009

Although Tristan Steiger and Billy Ashabraner are not exactly household names, each has been active in his respective areas of gambling long enough to be considered veterans of their game. Steiger's Professional Middle Limit Hold'em ($25.95, paperbound, 336 pages) and Ashabraner's Insights into Racing -- Explaining the Winning Game (255 pages, hardbound, $29.95) are two solid new titles.

Steiger, a successful middle-limit player for 15 years (quite active at the Bellagio and the Mirage games in Las Vegas), does a nice job analyzing $30-$60 games along with telling how he assesses opponents and adjusts to their play. In 11 full chapters he discusses the value of keeping records, how to figure the standard deviation, how to learn from others, when to play tight, pre-flop tips, getting action, being aggressive, the impact of overaggression and bluffing. In this latter key section Steiger illuminates the art of successful bluffing; catching bluffs and bluff raising while in another interesting section he focuses on situational tells and exhibiting them on purpose. For those who have hopes about turning professional, Steiger offers guidance about how much you can expect to earn, bankroll requirements to help get you there and mistakes pros often make, including ego problems, handling bad beats and lack of discipline.

Steiger's analysis is right on target. You may or may not agree with him on every salient point, but he's a thinking-man type of author -- probing, spotlighting and reinforcing key methods to help improve your game.

Decades ago, Billy Ashabraner went to the barns at Churchill Downs and worked for free to understand the business of thoroughbred racing. Eventually he learned, climbed to the top of the trainer's list and became a successful owner. His book explains how to choose horses -- whether to bet on them, train them or own them. The book is about his experiences on the backstretch, his intelligence as a trainer, the art of claiming and his suggestions for improving the sport on behalf of the bettor. I would have loved to see more about inspection handicapping -- the body language of horses in the post and paddock -- little tips on identifying contenders and false favorites from the standpoint of a trainer or owner -- those little secrets we all crave as we handicap but are perhaps something Ashabraner believes are not so important. He does offer great insight into the plight of trainers who have to pay feed and vet bills in their fight for economic stability. The book begins in the 1970s and ends in 2005, with Kentucky and Florida racing circuits getting the attention. Overall, for anyone who loves the Sport of Kings, Ashabraner's book is colorful, fast-paced and packed with valuable insights about the game.
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