21 Gambling Books You Ought to Read

Gambling Books – Guides and Strategies

There are a vast number of books that are packed with techniques, tactics and advice on how to win a game of chance. Occasionally, and far more frequently than you think, a new one comes out with a declaration that eventually, the code is broken and will help you conquer your house edge, increase your chances, and so on. Among these bits, packed with nothing more and nothing less than hollow words, though, there are few that have turned the gambling world upside down and become the classic must-read books for any gambler, from amateurs to professional high-rollers.

Beat the Dealer by Edward O. Thorp

Edward O. Thorp is the founder of card counting, the inventor of the first portable machine, and a pioneer in the modern application of probability theory for efficient financial gain. In 1962, he wrote Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Twenty-One Game – the first book that mathematically proved that card counting could be used to overthrow the house edge of blackjack. Since then, it has remained the definitive card counting guide used by amateurs and professional players. This classic book contains charts that summarize the basics, convenient for everyone to memorize and use.

Scarne’s New Complete Guide to Gambling by John Scarne

John Scarne, known as “The World’s Forest Gambling Authority,” is still widely recognized as the most authoritative gambling expert ever, even though he is not a gambler per se. The greatest card manipulator of all time, he eventually became an authority not only on magic tricks but on card games in general, writing a variety of books in the process. This guide covers any aspect of gambling at casinos, such as official rules, odds and house percentages. Each game and sporting event involving betting shall be checked and evaluated with detailed advice and guidance on the strategy of play.

Gambling 102: The Best Strategies for all Casino Games by M. Shackleford

If you think gambling is a matter of chance or intuition, brace yourself to get your universe overturned. Gambling 102 is the end product of years of rigorous mathematical research, aided by computer simulation in conjunction with actual casino play to provide precise descriptions and odds assessments for each game. The chapters are easy and straightforward, as they set out the basic strategies for games based on the calculations carried out. Stay ready to get the nerd out.

Doyle Brunson’s Super System by Doyle Brunson

The author of this book, one of the first books on poker strategy, is the professional poker player Doyle Brunson, who is also a multiple winner of the World Series of Poker. Known as the poker bible, this is a must read if you’re looking to get poker up professionally. The Super Structure explains why poker is more than luck and odds, and while it may seem obsolete today, it still includes some of the best explanations for all poker games, including No Limits Texas Hold’em and Seven Card Stud, as well as the best strategy for stud poker.

“Poker is war. People just pretend it’s a game.”

Doyle Brunson

Burning the Tables in Las Vegas by Ian Andersen

This classic casino behavior book 101 addresses virtually every aspect of blackjack that you can bring at your table to your advantage. Given its age, it can still be important, as it covers all the basics such as selecting a game model, mastering strategies for distracting and detecting bluffing, and preventing emotions such as stress and rage from influencing your game. It’s also got a full guide on how to improve your casino skills and etiquette, including dress code, tips, and more.

Biographies

Some of the best-selling gambling books are biographies of the most famous people in the history of betting, who have changed the world of gambling through their vision, abilities, and artistry. Enjoyed by a wider audience, they can be an inspiration to people of all walks of life, as their inspirational stories reflect the uniqueness of the human spirit and set a degree of perfection that anyone should aspire to achieve. Below are some profiles of people without whom gambling wouldn’t be the same thing.

Blood Aces by Doug J. Swanson

A non-fiction biography that is more amazing than a piece of fiction, this book tells the story of Benny Binion – a crime boss, casino owner, and founder of the World Series of Poker. With the complexities of a gangster film, the book lifts the curtain of the world of infamous mobsters and unveils previously secret government records that form the picture of the great American antihero.

A Man for All Markets by Edward E. Thorp

The book tells the true story of Edward E. Throp, a legendary mathematician who invented card counting and really showed the world that the house doesn’t always win. Learn all about his transition from teaching to gambling and taking the Wall Street movement into this biographical overview of the man who forever changed gambling. If you’re an aspiring professional gambler or would want to learn more about the people who are making an impact on the planet, this is a must-read.

“In the abstract, life is a mixture of chance and choice. Chance can be thought of as the cards you are dealt in life. Choice is how you play them.”

Edward O. Thorp, A Man for All Markets

Enemy Number One by Patrick Veitch

The book tells the sensational true story of Britain’s most famous gambler, Patrick Veitch, who won himself the reputation of a bookie tormentor, making more than £ 10 million in earnings over an eight-year period in his dealings with them. Telling in a blunt but captivating manner, and with the sly humour you’d expect from Veitch, the book follows his tale of a prey becoming a predator who is now the UK’s most feared professional punter.

All Bets Are Off by Arnie Wexler

Buckle up for a trip into the dark world of gambling addiction, as Arnie and Sheila Wexler have said. The grim tale describes the descent into Arnie’s addiction, who started gambling at the age of fourteen, eventually sinking into compulsive bets that spiraled out of control, finally forcing him and his wife Sheila to the verge of existence. They manage, however, to leave the addiction pit and to return to a normal and safe lifestyle, now assisting other people with training and programs.

Bets, Drugs, and Rock & Roll by Steve Budin

The book is the autobiography of Steve Budin, the founder of the first sports betting company to revolutionize the mysterious spreads market, using old-school tactics such as luring drug-infused, hooker-studded trips to Vegas. Budin developed bookmaking into the multinational industry that we know today under the leadership of his father – the famous bookmaker himself, making millions in the process.

Books on History and Notable Events

Are you interested in how gambling came about? What were the first artifacts used for gambling, and who were the most famous players in history? What are the most amazing incidents in the history of gambling? Here are some suggestions for books that look at the history of gambling and lists some of the most important poker tournaments and other notable gambling events.

The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King by Michael Craig

This adventure story with a compelling storyline takes readers to an exclusive world that very few have the chance to see, let alone be part of. Meet the professor – the mathematical poker mind of Howard Lederer, the banker – none other than Andrew Beal himself, and the famous poker player Ted Forrest as the Suicide King, and join them in a poker game of all time.

The Dark Side of the Felt by Tyler Nals

Even if you don’t play poker yourself, this book gives you a clear image of what the game is all about, without the glitter of TV broadcast tournaments, as the author shares his own tale of playing underground poker games on a nightly basis in Long Island and Charlotte. If you want to take a look at the side of poker that has been ignored by advertisers, you need to read this fun book because it gives a practical idea and some useful tips that players may enjoy.

Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich

One of the most popular gambling-related books that has been adapted to an equally popular gambling film, Bringing Down The House retains its popularity thanks to its gripping tale of the true story of the MIT Blackjack groups and the most successful card-counting scheme in history. The action packed # 1 bestseller keeps the reader engaged in a glimpse of the world of card savants who have managed to steal millions from the most sophisticated Vegas casinos for two years.

Positively Fifth Street by James McManus

With a title influenced by Bob Dylan’s Positively 4th Street and set two floors above the den of greed where Hunter S. Thompson wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the novel follows James McManus on his assignment to Harper’s Bazaar to cover the 2000 World Series of Poker tournament and the murder of Ted Binion – the notorious founder of the WSOP. The novel covers McManus ‘exploits in a exciting account of gaudiness, misfortune, greed, and murder as he tries to use the advance he received from the magazine to see how far he can get himself in the tournament.

The Biggest Game in Town by Al Álvarez

Throughout this classic gaming, also referred to as the best poker novel, the celebrated poet and literary critic Al Álvarez raises the curtain of high-stakes poker tables vividly describing the environment of the World Poker Series and the players – from high rollers to real-life coolers who never seem to compete, to those who believe they can exercise ability over a game of chance. Offering insight into the psychology of players, this was the first book to take into account the perspectives of professional poker players and is considered to have set the beginning of the genre of poker literature.

“When there is no peril in the fight, there is no glory in the triumph.”

Al Álvarez

Roll The Bones: The History of Gambling by David G. Schwartz

In the first story of gambling through centuries, author and founder of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, David G. Schwartz offers a fascinating insight into the history of gambling and how gambling has been transformed into their modern forms through the evolution of gambling paraphernalia. This also tells the stories of famous players throughout history, such as Voltaire, who found a way to cheat the lottery, win 9 million francs, and the less fortunate Dostoevsky who went bankrupt because of his gambling addiction.

Works of Fiction and More

Although the actual events in the world of gambling already sound like a work of fiction with tales of massive winnings (or losses) and inspirational personages, there are some   novels and collections of stories that make captivating and amusing reads   as they strip layer by layer the mind of a gambler, making the characters relatable with their personal stories, or they just give us a good laugh with some weird explanation that, given the crazy world of gambling, might as well be an actual one.

The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky has his own dark story of gambling addiction, as his compulsive betting on the roulette left him bankrupt several times, having a detrimental impact on his family as well. Ironically enough, he wrote the short story The Gambler as a means of paying off his gambling debts. Considering his personal experience and his excellent psychological prose, you should expect full-bodied, beautiful portraits and convincing, if bleak, descriptions of the downward spiral of gambling defeats that the protagonist Alexey Ivanovich encounters.

“But gamblers know how a man can sit for almost twenty-four hours at cards, without looking to right, or to left.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Gambler

Telling Lies and Getting Paid: Gambling Stories by Michael Konik

This fascinating reading includes a small selection of gambling stories, including a look into the world of offshore online gaming and high-steak backgammon. This also provides the author’s view of the game of poker, but rather than peddling the oh-so-familiar technique of the books, this reveals his view of the time spent playing and its effect on his relationships and family. It also provides some amusing insights into the philosophy of the game, which will be humorous to anyone who has frequented the felt table.

Duelling with Kings by Daniel Barbarisi

A perfect read for those of you who enjoy sports betting (and for those who don’t know what DFS stands for), this book is an interesting read about a newly developed subculture in the USA. Although it reads like fiction, it describes the market and the legal side of this trend quite accurately. DFS has its origins in poker and online gaming, so if that’s your line of interest and you’re willing to expand the spectrum, check out this fascinating reading.

The Man with the $100,000 Breasts by Michael Konik

Prepare to encounter some of the most unusual characters in the world of professional gambling in this series of stories that explain the essence of casino life with precision and humour. From the brave gambler who had his breast implants to win a $100,000 bet, to the dice shooter who managed to turn a $10,000 borrowed stake into $17 million, to the marketing genius who created a “900” line to pick NFL football game winners – these are the kind of characters that make the game great, outlined in an interesting manner by Konik – the gambling expert himself.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

One of the most popular books on gambling, terror and loathing in Las Vegas is a prime example of gonzo journalism, narrating the psychedelic drug-induced haze of a trip to Las Vegas that the author embarked on with the lawyer and Chicano activist Oscar Zeta Acosta in 1971. The novel à clef tells the details of the journey that has gone down in literary history as one of the most surreal road trips ever, illustrated by Ralph Steadman and brought to the screen by Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro as ‘Raoul Duke’ and ‘Dr Gonzo,’ respectively, in the eponymous 1995 film.

“Too weird to live, too rare to die!”

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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