The house always wins. It’s almost a universal law when it comes to gambling in casinos, whether you’re playing slots or a casino table game, hitting up a bricks and mortar joint, or you’re relaxing on your mobile playing in an online casino, there’s always the house edge to think about. But like they say, forewarned is forearmed and, if you take the time to read a few books on the subject, you might find yourself bringing that house edge down and improving your play. But where to start? Not to fear – we have a list of four of the best books to get you started packed with great information and detailed tips to enhance your casino gaming experience.
1. Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling (Casino Edition)
To start at the beginning, we recommend the second edition of David Schwartz’ study into the history of gambling. Roll the Bones offers an insight into the history of gambling from the earliest days of prehistory where knucklebones were rolled by primordial man to the mysterious invention of playing cards in China in the 12th century right up until the modern-day casino. This second version expands upon areas that were still coming into existence when the first book was written, particularly, it looks at online casinos and the evolution that the internet instilled in the market.
While it doesn’t contain any major tips or advice on how to gamble, having a strong working knowledge of how gambling has evolved, and the history of the games, will help familiarise you with the games you’ll be playing in the casino and gives you a good primer for conversation if you end up playing at a bricks and mortar casino.
2. Beat the Dealer
Edward Thorp’s seminal work, back in 1966, is as relevant now as it was then. A mathematician by trade, Edward Thorp approached blackjack as a mathematical problem that could be solved through the use of strategy based on the predictability of a deck. In other words, Beat the Dealer is the book that introduced the world to card counting. The system Thorp describes requires tracking cards as they come out and calculating your odds until the last few cards in the deck are all but known. And, if you’re playing with a single deck it does what it says on the cover, you can beat the casino. However, as the system became popular, more and more casinos began implementing measures such as a reduced pay out for a blackjack, or multiple decks that are constantly being shuffled. These measures limit the application of Thorp’s techniques but they can still be deployed! If you’re looking to implement these ideas though, the next book is also well worth a read.
3. Bringing down the House
While listed as non-fiction, there’s been some debate from the students involved about how accurate Ben Mezrich’s book is regarding the real events as they took place. Bringing down the House is based on the MIT Blackjack Team and their exploits in the 1980s-1990s. The main character is Kevin Lewis, modelled on the real-life Jeff Ma, and explains how the blackjack ring operated with investors bankrolling the students as they employed their skills for maximum gain, as well as the consequences once the casino got wise to their experiment.
While you may not be able to deploy exactly the same strategy, the method used by the students is definitely one you could mimic if the circumstances were right. If you want to see how someone put Edward Thorp’s lessons into practice, this is a great example told in a compelling way.
4. Scarne’s New Complete guide to Gambling
After reading through the methods of card counting and seeing how they came to be used, your next best bet? Having a look at Scarne’s New Complete Guide to Gambling to give you a grounding in all the games and how to play them. With a lifetime of experience as a gambling consultant to several governments and top casinos, Scarne has a uniquely authoritative view point and the various tips and tricks he includes are absolutely worth your time paying attention to.
He also includes a section on cheating which, obviously, we don’t encourage you put into practice, but will give you a thorough grounding in things to look out for if you’re playing casually with your friends. However, this isn’t a book designed to tell you how to beat the casino – it’s one designed to inform you all about how casinos and the gambling industry operate. Being aware of how the games work and how casinos operate will help you make the smart choice when deciding how you want to place your bets.
Do you think you have a better book for anyone looking to master casino games? Why not add it to the comments below so we can improve the list!