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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Watching Racehorses; New Gangster Book New Arrivals at GBC

27 May 2004

Anyone who enjoys post parade inspection handicapping (also known as the body language of horses) and wants to know more -- in this case, what the Australian bettors focus on -- will find plenty of food for thought in Geoffrey Hutson's Watching Racehorses (A Guide to Betting on Behaviour) (234 pages, paperbound, $19.95), while more than a dozen organized crime bad boys are profiled in a new compilation edited by Lawrence Block titled Gangsters, Swindlers, Killers and Thieves (The Lives & Crimes of Fifty American Villains) (287 pages, hardbound, $26). These are among the many new arrivals at Gambler's Book Shop this week.

Hutson's book explains the methods he uses to isolate contenders and to eliminate those horses that openly show they're just not in the racing mood or not fit to run any particular racing day. His work is based on observations of 10,000 thoroughbreds, a period covering more than decade of handicapping in Australia. His research is similar in some ways, but quite varied in his discoveries compared to the late Bonnie Ledbetter and the sharp, innovative observations of Trillis Parker and Joe Takach in the United States.

Hutson says he no longer uses the "form guide" (the Aussie equivalent to the Daily Racing Form). He says there are more than five dozen variables which can be observed -- some of which lead to winners, others to clear indications the horse is either not fit or isn't in the mood to run on a particular day, which includes the way they walk, sweat, equipment changes, the way they "signal" a positive or negative way with their head, tail or ears.

Other methods of "listening" to horses talk include being alert for the "sight" or the "the snort" or "the whine" or "squeal" along with observing the nostrils. The book is packed with illustrations, charts, tables and research results. Many may scoff at Hutson's "all-or-nothing" approach to picking winners, while others are total believers that horses are able to tell us if they're sharp or flat, upset or relaxed, bored or ready to give it their all. This book should make handicapping more fun, perhaps profitable, if you can learn to eliminate the losers based on observation, especially those particularly painful, but memorable false favorites.

Gangsters, Swindlers, Killers & Thieves by Block is a virtual rogues' gallery of criminals, which includes illustrations and a detailed index. Perhaps the strength of the book is that it covers so much territory, especially in the area of organized crime--which also involves those who had a hand in legal and illegal gambling. Who are they? Al Capone, Frankie Carbo, Mickey Cohen, Joe Colombo, Frank Costello, Carlo Gambino, Vito Genovese, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Owney Madden, Arnold Rothstein, Dutch Schultz, Bugsy Siegel and Joe Valachi.

Here you get four or five pages on each individuals with full-page photos for most. For those who have a yen for knowledge about villains of the Old West, the author includes Billy the Kid, Black Bart, Butch Cassidy, Bob Dalton, Bill Doolin, John Wesley Hardin, Tom Horn, Jesse James, William Quantrill, Belle Starr and Cole Younger. Bank robbers Willie Sutton, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger also earn space in the work

Look at Block's book like a mini-encyclopedia, a quick reference guide to the notorious. It's a quick and fast-moving read.
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