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Book Reviews of Vegas/Gambling Related Books

Discussion in 'Misc. Vegas Chat' started by Raven888, Sep 13, 2021.

  1. Raven888

    Raven888 High-Roller

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    Here are some reviews of some casino and gambling related books I've read over the last several months.

    Lifestyles of a High Roller by Phyllis Wolff (1991)

    This book reads more like a travel blog or diary than an actual account of high roller shenanigans. Phyllis Wolff is not a high roller. Her husband is. There is not much gambling talked about in this book. Most of the anecdotes are along the lines of "Herb went to the Craps table after dinner. He came back two hours later and had won $3,000." Most of the book is just Mrs. Wolff talking about sightseeing, eating dinner, and shopping during the couples' casino junkets. It is very simplistically written and honestly not very exciting. Even the high roller accounts are not that impressive... Mrs. Wolff talks about her husband playing at the $25 tables and betting $100-$300 a hand on average. Granted, this was back in the '80s, but there are multiple trip reviews in this forum right now that would blow this guy out of the water. Don't waste your time on this book.

    Rating: :thumbsdown:


    Winner Takes All: Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, Gary Loveman, and the Race to Own Las Vegas by Christina Binkley (2009)

    Okay, honestly, I'm only about halfway through this book. I had to take a break from reading it because it is very, very dry. The information is interesting, and it's well-written from a journalistic standpoint, but it just goes on and on and on and on... Lots of talk about meetings, and planning, and business discussions, and planning for meetings, and meetings about business discussions, and business discussions about plans... unless you are really, really into the business side of the casino industry, you might want to take a pass on this one.

    Rating: :yawn:


    Casino Gambling for the Winner by Lyle Stuart (1984)

    This book is kind of a mish-mash of anecdotes, how-to-play guides, and strategies, but it's not really laid out in any coherent manner. It just felt like the author started writing, and whatever was in his head that day, that's what the chapter was about. He bounces around between topics and ideas without really getting too in-depth into anything, and by the time I finished reading it, I felt like I hadn't read anything at all. I don't know what gambling/casino literature was like in the mid-80's, so this may have been groundbreaking at one point, but in this day and age it is fairly forgettable.

    Rating: :thumbsdown:


    Baccarat: Everything You Want to Know About Playing and Winning by Tommy Renzoni (1977)

    This is similar to Stuart's book in that it is a combination of anecdotes, strategies, and how-to-play, but it is much better written. It's a fairly short read, but still an interesting snapshot of how Baccarat was played back in "Old Vegas." If you are really into Baccarat like I am, you should enjoy this book, but be aware there's no talk of mini- or midi-bacc here. Other than some basic money management advice, a lot of the info is some what outdated, but like I said, it's a good book from a historical standpoint and I found it it fairly entertaining.

    Rating: :thumbsup:


    Baccarat Fair and Foul by Angelo J. Lewis (1891)

    Baccarat used to be played very differently from how we play in the casinos nowadays. This short treatise describes Baccarat as it was played in Europe in the late 1800's, and covers Chemin de Fer and Baccarat de Deau Tableaux. Very interesting read going very in-depth into all the rules and regulations. You'll feel like a wealthy noble just reading it, and those James Bond scenes might make a little more sense. If you're really into Baccarat or the history of gambling, check it out.

    Rating: :thumbsup:
     
    Vegas Vacation VIII - Chinese New Year 2022
  2. FullPay

    FullPay When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro

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    A favorite of mine, as I was visiting the Strip during the construction of Luxor. Excellent history of the Strip from the opening of Circus Circus through the creation of the mega-themed resorts.

    upload_2021-9-13_13-57-45.jpeg
    Language:English
    ISBN:0553573497
    ISBN13:9780553573497
    Release Date:January 2001
    Publisher:Random House Publishing Group
    Length:528 Pages


    Fabulous book on the inner workings of the casino industry. The first half of the book is a short history of the city, detailing the exploits of such Vegas characters as Jay Sarno, Howard Hughes, and of course, Bugsy Siegel. The second half focuses strictly on Luxor. The author was granted complete access to meetings and was able to interview anyone he wished. He talked with everyone from management to dealers to cab drivers to prostitutes. If you want to read about the inner workings of a casino and how decisions are made, this is the book to read. Very entertaining from cover to cover.
     
    One Celebration dinner to burn!
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  3. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    I really enjoyed Binkley's book. She is a business journalist, so I'm not surprised it seems a bit dry. But I thought there was some hilarious stuff in there (especially the buyer's response when Steve Wynn was trying to value his cheap, mail order book collection)
     
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  4. hail2skins

    hail2skins VIP Whale

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    For blackjack fans, two good books that came out in the late 90s were Blackjack Autumn by Barry Meadow and Blackjack Diary by Stuart Perry.
     
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  5. bubbakitty

    bubbakitty Doing retirement again and happily so....

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    Gambling for dummies……we’ve moved a bit closer to the middle ………. Damn changes…
    0E8B1BF1-4A17-42AA-A40A-53AB0D638681.jpeg
    damn memory
     
    Tirement party over again…..poor thing.
  6. AyDee

    AyDee is getting too old for this

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    IIRC there was an older "what are you reading" thread,
    don't remember if it was specific to gambling books, but a lot of the answers were...
     
  7. RPMCanes

    RPMCanes VIP Whale

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    Whale Hunt in the Desert is probably the best book on Las Vegas I've ever read. Grandissimo is another that is fantastic.
     
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  8. joespoolhall

    joespoolhall VIP Whale

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    Whale Hunt In The Desert - Bought the original from LVA at least fifteen years ago. It was informative and I felt worth the price. About six months ago, I bought the updated edition on Amazon used. It was a good deal if you don't have the book. Not much updating if you already have it.

    No Limit - Story of Bob Stupak of Vegas World and The STRAT . Enjoyed it.

    Of Rats And Men - Talks about Oscar Goldman's time as a mob attorney. It was so so. If you get it used in paper back, worthwhile. Hardcover new, like I got it, not so much.

    Frugal Gambling - Very informative at one time. Most members know most of what you'll find in the book. Good for newbies.

    Running Scared - Unauthorized bio of Steve Wynn by John L. Smith. Wynn sued Smith and won. Just bought it on Amazon because I read Smith's column in the RJ for years and I'd believe him before Wynn.
     
  9. handshuffle

    handshuffle Tourist

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    Blood Aces - The Wild Ride of Benny Binion. - I enjoyed this book.

    I also liked Blackjack Autumn mentioned earlier, which has a great subtitle - "A True Tale of Life, Death, and Splitting Tens in Winnamucca". It has some really interesting stories of blackjack games in small town casinos in Nevada.
     
  10. booker

    booker VIP Whale

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    8993AC5C-E5FA-41CF-8C4B-7E8CA0F0CBB8.jpeg
    The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win
    by Maria Konnikova

    I found this account fascinating. An accomplished NYT writer wanted to document her voyage of learning how to play poker, without even knowing that a flush beats a straight. To the amazement of all, she became a world class poker player. Maria Konnikova is a brilliant writer and a complex woman. As with most fine literature, it works on many levels and is an entertaining read.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
    Tentative for WSOP & Super Senior event
  11. chef

    chef Resident Buffetologist

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    Agreed about Blackjack Autumn, Super Casino and Whale Hunt in the Desert. All enjoyable and informative reads. For a little guilty pleasure, I'll throw in "Comp City".
     
  12. tex55

    tex55 High-Roller

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    I actually enjoyed Lyle Stuart's book; it helped train my mindset about gambling, when to go heavy, when not to, etc.

    I also enjoyed Whale Hunt in the Desert, Super Casino and 24/7 Living It Up and Doubling Down in the new Las vegas
     
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  13. justaguy

    justaguy Tourist

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    My two cents (I have been reading a lot of Vegas books lately):

    Winner takes all,Christina Binkley - the book is about Steve Wynn, but really focused on his dealings with Kirk Kerkorian and who would have "won" amongst the two of them. It is a good book, but I wouldn't rate it fantastic.

    Whale hunt in the desert, Deke Castleman - Superhost Steve Cyr biography, I liked the book very, very much and I would say that is probably the one I read more recently that would be of more interest of fellow VMBers.

    At the Sands, David G. Schwartz - Sands' history, the book is entertaining, but I wouldn't rate it within my favorites

    Bringing down the house, Ben Mezrich - the book movie 21 with Kevin Spacey is based upon, it is a novel rather than non-fiction and it is superb. I liked it much more than the movie.

    Busting Vegas, Ben Mezrich - from the same author, it follows along the lines of Bringing down the house, and is also very good.

    Super Casino, Pete Earl - mostly about Luxor on its early times, this is a very good read and a very good intake of Circus Circus, Inc.

    High Stakes, Gary Provost - also centered on Luxor and Circus Circus, Inc., it is also a nice read (but Super Casino is better, in my opinion).

    Grandissimo, David G. Schwartz - Jay Sarno's, the guy behind Caesars, biography. His life is really interesting and what he did to Vegas is remarkable, but the book itself is not that great, in my humble opinion.
     
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  14. topcard

    topcard Vegas Has Re-Opened!

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    That's a fun, fast read for any dedicated blackjack player...a bit outdated in terms of the conditions out there, but for those of us who remember those days, it's quite entertaining.

    In terms of a blackjack 'How To' book, I recommend 'Playing Blackjack as a Business' by Lawrence Revere. Much of his book is outdated too (in terms of current conditions), so you won't find anything even referring to 6:5, as that abomination hadn't even been invented yet.
    But if you'd like an entertaining method to learn basic strategy and the simple plus/minus count, this is well worth it.
    :beer:
     
  15. Craps_Player

    Craps_Player Low-Roller

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    Thanks for the contribution! I’ve just ordered a few of these as a result of your post.
     
  16. FABismonte

    FABismonte Tell my wife I am "about even."

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    Bob Dancer's "Million Dollar Video Poker" is a great read. I don't approve of all of Bob's shenanigans but wonderful story of a grinder to an video poker big wig -- albeit when video poker action was attractive to casinos.
     
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