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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Practical Casino Math Updated; Gambling 102 Analyzes Strategies

18 May 2005

Practical Casino Math by Robert Hannum and Anthony Cabot (298 pages, paperbound, $30) has just been updated. It remains one of the most important books ever written for the casino industry--in particular, for casino managers or potential mid-management, and for the player who wants to know the edge house in virtually any game including which games are most profitable for the casino.

A second book, Gambling 102 by Michael (The Wizard of Odds) Shackleford (150 pages, paperbound, $14.95) takes the other approach: how a player can best beat the casino games, sports betting (pro football), poker, video poker, Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, Caribbean Stud and Sic Bo.
First, the Hannum-Cabot book.

In 10 vital chapters, the authors offer a quick history of gambling followed by a l0-year analysis of gaming revenue nationally, while in a second chapter there is a focus on the mathematical theory of casino games including the house advantage for each game; how to compute the that advantage directly from odds; volatility and standard deviation; the law of averages and a look at betting systems.

One chapter examines basic table games and slot operations with sections on the drop vs. the handle, theoretical win, expected hold percentage, the base bet or average bet and which is better to determine house advantage.

The book categorizes the various games such as games of pure chance (slots, baccarat, craps, keno and roulette); pooled games (progressive slots and bingo); games with a skill component (blackjack, video poker, Let it Ride among them); pooled games (poker); sports betting. (By the way, if you have the first edition of this book, this has been updated greatly, including the sports betting area.)

One extremely important chapter is titled Game Odds and Price Setting, which includes rule variations, altering payoffs, casino pricing mistakes, the odds bets in craps.

If the area of volatility intrigues you, the authors devote a section to the subject including the impact of high rollers and how to reduce volatility to reduce risk. The chapter on complimentaries has value, offering material on tracking earning potential and rating systems while offering suggestions for establishing a comp policy.
In recent years the area of rebates has been openly discussed. Here the authors present material on dead chip programs; rebates on theoretical loss; discounts on actual loss and computing rebate on actual loss.

A final chapter contains a discussion regarding regulatory issues such as fairness to the player and to the casino; proper standards for determining a game's honesty; the controversial "near-miss" slot programs; a comparison between advantage play and cheating (including slot handle manipulation; hole carding; shuffle tracking.
Overall this is an absolute must-have for any casino management person who's new at his or her job or needs a tune up on what games provide the casino with the most revenue and why.

Michael Shackleford's Casino 102 is the result of years of mathematical analysis, computer modeling and actual casino play. He assumes you know the basic rules of the games and picks it up by advising you which bets are best and which will be best to avoid.

Packed with charts and tables, the book has 19 quick chapters with advice mixed with rationale and examples to keep you from the sucker bets and the help stabilize your bankroll. This terrific package of information is well-priced, easy to read.

Slot players won't find much in the four pages devoted to their game and rightfully so. If there were any strategy that stood the test of time, both this reviewer and the author would have retired rich by now.

The author has an interesting chart listing slot machine comparison --those at McCarren airport are set to pay off 85% of the time -- the worst play to play, while those at the Palms are a bit more than 93% -- the best place to take a shot at a big payoff. Three casinos refused to let the author take notes and are not included--they are the Suncoast, Rampart and Fiesta Henderson.

Overall, a fine book for the price designed to save the innocent from bad bets and designed to make your bankroll last much longer than expected.

One late arrival at Gambler's Book Shop is the 2005 WNBA Workbook (18 pages, 8x11 plastic spiralbound, $6), compiled for those who want to bet women's pro basketball. The book contains the final standings for last season; records against the spread; straight up; at home and on the road (all summarized, not listed by game).

The heart of the book is a record-keeping device with schedules, from May to August, with some betting angles for each team. You'll have room to record results, spread, totals and their record overall as the season progresses.

For those who love to bet women's pro hoops, this is the ultimate (and only) resource I know to track a team's progress--and it's priced to save you time and energy.

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