These are the stories that will never bore you because, whatever people may say, gambling is fun. We can discuss the pros and cons of playing forever, but the fact remains that there is nothing quite like it in the world.
From crowded roulette areas to quiet poker rooms and further to the glamorously lit slot aisles, the excitement is always in the air and the heart of every gamer. Sure, we play for money. However, there is more to a game than just the prize. Sometimes, it’s the skill and knowledge. Sometimes, it’s just pure luck. Whatever it is, we are in it for the sheer pleasure of playing.
Gambling has been a source of inspiration for a long time. And we are not talking about participating only. From scientific studies to works of art, it has tickled the imagination of creative individuals. It has even propelled some to stardom, either instant or the immortal kind.
Painters, composers, and film-makers explored the nature of gaming, creating some of their best works around this subject. Carravagio hit a milestone in his career with The Cardsharps, his first independent painting. Edvard Munch caught the atmosphere of a casino in his famous work At the Roulette Table.
We all remember Martin Scorsese’s cinematic extravaganza Casino from 1995, which examined the dark side of gambling. Because of this, Vegas, its casinos, and its nasty characters, however dodgy they seemed, attracted so many of us to the game.
But literature leads the way when it comes to gaming topics. After all, we turn to books for knowledge as well as entertainment. Thousands of pages written on the matter offer insight into games, minds of gamers, systems of playing, or advice for winning.
From handbooks to biographies, we could fill the shelves of a substantial library with gambling books. Some of them are masterpieces, some of them are nonsense, but they can all teach us something. So let’s dive into the ocean of gaming literature!
We have a variety to choose from when we reach out for a book on gambling. There is fiction, there are manuals, etc. We will present the best of the best written on the topic, and we will not be restrictive when it comes to genre.
Of course, the most sought-after titles are the ones that explain the games and offer advice on how to play and win.
Beat the Dealer
Sounds like a good way to start? And it is. Edward the Math Genius Thorp published this gem in 1962 and changed the world of blackjack forever. He proved that the house edge could be overturned and showed us how to do it. It’s not an easy task, but the master of card-counting introduced a whole new perspective. For all blackjack fans, this is a must-read before you tap the felt.
Scarne’s New Complete Guide to Gambling
This book comes from the most prominent gambling authority in the world, Mr. John Scarne. Whether or not he deserves the title is questionable, but this book is excellent. Scarne knows his cards, that’s for sure. He can play, do magic tricks, and he can write. His guide covers everything from rules to odds. It’s not just casino games. Scarne analyzes the sports betting market as well, so even sports bettors will find it handy.
Ok, poker players, this one is for you! Doyle Branson explains it all: why poker is not just luck and probability and the importance of strategy. It’s a recommended read for anyone who plans to play poker for money. The basic strategy in poker and a thorough explanation of all poker games are presented with simplicity and ease. Just what you need to grasp the essence of the game.
Again, the infamous game of 21, but Stanford Wong’s masterpiece cannot be left out. It’s not a beginner’s guide but a next-level manual for blackjack players. It’s filled with charts and statistical data (useful info, for sure), and it’s right there that you can see how brilliant Wong is. His tables are presented in such an exciting fashion that you keep going back to it. Don’t miss this one!
M. Shackleford combined maths, computer simulation, and years of casino experience to bring us the best strategies for all casino games (no kidding, this is the subtitle.) He covers all the games with explanations and calculations, assessing odds with remarkable precision. Be aware, this is the nerd territory, but it’s useful and a great read.
The Plot Thickens
But numbers and counting can only take you so far. Gambling is not a math course; it’s a real-life action thriller. There are many aspects one has to consider and what better way to learn than from the pros, their successes and terrible downfalls. Without further ado, let’s check the biographies of some of the famous players and what wisdom we can extract.
Bloody it is, but it uncovers the world of mob-bosses and shady characters behind the glitz of the gambling world. Doug J. Swanson’s non-fiction biography of Benny Binion is stranger than fiction. Binion was a casino owner and mastermind behind the World Series of Poker. The book takes us behind the scenes with the suspense of a gangster flick and shows the dirty side of the game.
Enemy Number One
The prey becomes the predator in this captivating and gritty story. Patrick Veitch earned the title of the most successful gambler in England, and ten million pounds to prove it. He is referred to as the bookie tormentor, and his biography is crude, yet educational. The intelligence and wit of the author ooze from every page, so make sure you add this one to your library.
All Bets Are Off
Ok, folks, gambling addiction is real! We may not want to talk about it, but it has brought many players down. Welcome to the world of Arnie Wexler. He began gambling at the age of 14 and grew up in the industry. He traveled all the way from a promising star to a compulsive bettor, spiraling entirely out of control. His descent to the very bottom brought him and his wife Sheila to the edge of existence. Their compelling story has a happy ending but serves as a cautionary tale for all of us.
History is the teacher of life. Or something along those lines, but you can catch the drift. We can draw a lot from historical facts and gain perspective on any topic. Gambling is no exception. What happened today is grounded in the past, whether opposing those events or merely reflecting them. So it’s time for a history class!
Roll the Bones
It is a history of gambling, but David G. Schwartz adds a narrative that makes it so much easier to take in and remember. He explains the origins of games of chance and how they morphed into their current versions. There is a lot about famous gamblers, so get ready to see who was luckier, Voltaire or Dostoyevsky. The author is the head of the Center for Gaming Research at Nevada University; thus, he stands as a real expert in the field.
Sometimes, to fully understand something, we turn to artists for an explanation. The masters of storytelling go deep into those dark places that we fear and deliver truths that escape the analysts or researchers. After all, no one can describe the feeling that escapes description better than a writer.
Don’t avoid the works of fiction that deal with gambling. It’s not just literature; it’s real-life in a nutshell. And a hell of a ride.
Telling Lies and Getting Paid
These are gambling stories from Michael Konik. It’s a front-row seat to the world of online casinos, and the offshore endeavors that accompany the business. The book floats effortlessly between autobiography and a novel, focusing on the effects of playing on the author and his relationships with friends and family. The most entertaining part is the humor that will be priceless for all frequent felt table visitors.
Brian Rouff tells the story of a former gambling addict who inherits a bar/casino. The premise itself is already interesting, but the author takes it to an even higher level with great pacing and dialogue. When the business goes bust and his life starts going to hell once again, will the hero return to the table to save himself? And can he get any help from a mysterious homeless person, who calls himself the Dice Angel? Maybe the real question Rouff is trying to answer is: Who or what controls the dice?
What is the nature of the game? How far are we prepared to go? Sounds ominous? Well, there are no easy subjects with Fyodor Dostoyevsky. However, for true insight into our motivation, look no further than this gem. An interesting fact is that he wrote this short novel to pay off his gambling debts. Yes, avid readers, Dostoyevsky was a bit of a roulette lover. His personal experience and his skills in psychological portraying and empathy bring this title to the very top of all fiction written about gambling. Don’t be scared; it’s not boring, and it can teach you plenty.
Practice makes perfect, there is no doubt about that. But there is always that additional input that can help us understand something a bit better. Books help us learn, escape, and come back better and wiser.
The same goes for gaming. The experience is priceless, but it’s not just our own. Some of these books may teach you new techniques, open new horizons, scare you, or give you great ideas. In one way or another, they will make you a better player.
So hit those libraries and bookstores. Find out about the lives and adventures of fellow gaming enthusiasts. It can only be inspirational. And see you at the table!