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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Office Pool Book, Mafia in Havana Bio on Yardley Allfascinating Reading

12 August 2004

Three diverse titles, each indirectly connected to gambling, are now in stock at Gambler's Book Shop. Each is fascinating reading. The three are The Un-Official Office Pool Handbook by Steve and Tom Ney (143 pages, paperbound, $14.95); The Mafia in Havana by Enrique Cirules (177 pages, paperbound, $17.95) and The Reader of Gentleman's Mail (Herbert O. Yardley and the Birth of American Codebreaking) by David Kahn (318 pages, paperbound, $32.50).

The lighter of the three books, The Un-Official Office Pool Handbook, is subtitled How to create, play and compete in workplace pools, it's perfect for those who want to organize or participate and have a shot at winning pools connected with pro or college football; college basketball; auto racing; golf; horse racing and boxing. There are charts, graphs, statistics and summaries to show you how to set pools up or illustrate what to expect if you're planning to enter more than three dozen types of pools the authors focus on. This information makes it a great book for those who have pool rooms, bars or businesses where people enjoy participating in "fun forms of wagering" on a recreational level just to have some action. It's great for those specialty games, say, during the Super Bowl or during March Madness, when everybody wants to participate. There are hints and tips about best numbers combination to aim for; what past results have shown in certain sports so you might find a "mathematical edge," if you get so lucky. In any case, for those who wonder if an edge even exists, or how to figure a prize structure based on number of entries, it's all here.

The Mafia in Cuba, focusing on pre-Castro Cuba, was published recently in Australia after being translated from Spanish to English. There are a dozen major chapters in this important work, including ones that pay attention to Lucky Luciano; the Kefauver Commission; money laundering; and perhaps the most important, how Meyer Lansky operated in that country in the 1950s. The 14 pages of references and footnotes to help researchers,and the book is illustrated.

The Reader of Gentleman's Mail concentrates on the life of a man who until now who has been somewhat of a mystery personality. Herbert Yardley authored one of the most important poker books of the 20th Century. Titled Education of a Poker Player, this book has helped create millions of new poker players, and although hold'em poker did not exist until years after it was published in 1957, the book added intrigue and respectability to a form of gambling, which until recent years had only been played at home and in smoke-filled poker rooms in Nevada and California.

Be aware that only 10 pages of the book cover Yardley's poker-playing and poker writing days. The remainder of the book explains his education, his quirks, his genius and role in developing code-breaking techniques during the early part of the 20th Century.

Before Education of a Poker Player was published as a book, parts of it were published in the now-defunct Saturday Evening Post. That particular issue was such a hot seller it broke all records in regard to circulation -- more than five million copies were sold, a phenomenal number for the 1950s. Sadly, Yardley died about a year later (in 1958).

This is the first attempt to explain the man behind the book and his love for a game which has captured America's heart and imagination in the 21st Century once again. And for those with a yen for material on code-breaking -- those who create codes and those who have the responsibility to break them and how it has affected history, this a fascinating read. The author of the book is probably the most celebrated name ever on the subject.
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