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The Ten Best Gambling Books I’ve Ever Read (With Reviews of Each)

By Randy Ray in General
| January 6, 2019 12:00 am PDT
Best Gambling Books

I’d have a hard time listing all the gambling books I’ve ever read.

As a professional gambling writer who’s been in the business for almost 20 years, I’ve read countless books on the subject.

I don’t have a hard time drawing a conclusion, though.

Most gambling books stink.

They’ll waste your time with inaccurate information.

They’ll waste your time with strategies that don’t work.

They’ll waste your time with silly anecdotes that don’t apply to any current reality.

But some gambling books stand apart from the others. They offer accurate information, practical and effective strategies, and anecdotes that illustrate points which will help you achieve your gambling goals – no matter what those may be.

Below, I’ve listed the ten best gambling books I’ve ever read.

I’ve included brief reviews of each, along with their tables of contents. I feel like the table of contents gives you a sample of what you can expect from reading the book that a simple review can’t match.

1 – Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong

I can think of no better book about betting on sports than Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong. In fact, no other book on the subject even comes close.

Most sports betting books are awful.

Sharp Sports Betting is excellent.

The reasons for this might not be immediately obvious, but here’s the first thing that comes to mind: most books about sports betting are easy to read. They sacrifice usefulness and accuracy for readability.

Wong’s book, on the other hand, is a tough read.

Some of these concepts are complicated and/or unfamiliar.

Reading Sharp Sports Betting requires effort and commitment.

But if you offer that book the effort and commitment required, the book will reward you with knowledge of how to win at sports betting that you won’t easily find elsewhere. This might mean taking some notes and doing some re-reading.

Trust me.

It’s worth it.

Here’s a list of the chapters.

  • How to Place Bets
  • Money Management
  • Betting Sports on the Internet
  • Basic Math of Straight Bets
  • Handicapping
  • Fan Money
  • Testing W-L Records for Significance
  • Parlays
  • Poisson Props
  • Season Wins
  • March Madness O/U Props
  • NFL Home-Field Advantage
  • NFL Results Against the Spread
  • NFL Money Line vs. Spread
  • NFL Totals
  • NFL Teasers
  • Facing the Super Bowl Champion

Sharp Sports Betting also offers appendices, glossaries, and tables of data.

It’s the only book about sports betting I know of that can actually help you gamble on sports with a positive expectation.

2 – Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways by Andrew Brisman

The first detailed book about casino gambling I ever read was Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways by Andrew Brisman.

It’s still the best book on the subject I’ve ever read.

But since it was published in 2004, Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways is dated in some places. In particular, it provides more information about some games that aren’t really offered that much in most casinos.

Let It Ride might be the best example. The game just isn’t popular enough to warrant an entire chapter, although I’m sure in 2004, it was.

Also, a number of similar house-banked card games based on poker have been rolled out into the casinos over the last 14 years. Obviously, these games are too new to have received coverage in this book.

The sections on probability and how casino gambling works are still the clearest explanations of those subjects I’ve read.

I’ve referred to this book repeatedly throughout my career as a gambling writer. It’s still my favorite reference most of the time.

Here’s a list of the chapters.

  • Welcome to the Casino
  • Becoming a Smart Player – Part I
  • Blackjack
  • Slot Machines
  • Video Poker
  • Craps
  • Baccarat
  • Roulette
  • Caribbean Stud Poker
  • Let It Ride
  • Pai Gow Poker
  • Poker
  • Sports Betting
  • Keno
  • Other Casino Games
  • Becoming a Smart Player – Part II

If you don’t already know, Mensa is an organization of people with genius-level IQs. That’s the overall theme of the book, too – gambling like you’re a genius.

Unfortunately, with most casino games, there’s no way to gamble like a genius. You can make all the best bets with the lowest house edge in the casino, but you’ll still lose all your money eventually.

The only way to overcome the house edge is with some kind of advantage strategy.

Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways is not really a guide to advantage gambling, although it does touch on the subject.

It’s out of print now, but you can find used copies cheap on Amazon and/or eBay.

3 – American Casino Guide by Steve Bourie

If you’re looking for a book that’s updated annually with the latest travel information related to casino gambling, American Casino Guide by Steve Bourie is the book to look for.

The author has four decades of gambling industry experience, and he’s recorded a series of incredibly popular YouTube videos about how to gamble. Besides his annually updated travel guide, Bourie occasionally writes features for various gambling, travel, and personal finance magazines about casinos and gambling.

Bourie is not the sole author of American Casino Guide. Contributing writers include experts like Anthony Curtis, Bob Dancer, John Grochowski, Max Rubin, and Jean Scott.

The editions change based on the changes in the casino industry throughout the United States each year, but you can expect detailed chapters covering the following subjects in any edition of American Casino Guide.

  • Best Casino Bets
  • Casino Comps
  • Slot Clubs
  • Casino Coupons
  • Casino Tournaments
  • Slot Machines
  • Slot Tournaments
  • Video Poker
  • Blackjack
  • Craps
  • Roulette
  • Baccarat
  • Poker

Also, each state with a “casino scene” is given an entire chapter.

These states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

American Casino Guide is also one of the thickest tomes on this list, clocking in at almost 500 pages.

It’s THE authority on casino gambling in the United States.

4 – The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book by Lance Humble

In a former life, I had a job as a middle manager in corporate America. One day, I had an interesting conversation about counting cards with the company’s attorney.

He was a card counter.

I was fascinated.

The first thing I wanted to know was how to learn how to count cards, too. He referred me to The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book by Lance Humble.

It’s still my favorite book on the subject. Humble’s an interesting author because he’s clearly from another generation.

His writing style reminds me of an old-school Frank Scoblete, only Lance Humble seems to understand gambling and advantage play more clearly than Scoblete does.

This book is dated in the extreme, but it’s also entertaining as all get-out.

The strategy advice isn’t dated, but the sections on game conditions can be safely ignored.

You can also ignore most of what Humble has to say about cheating in the casinos. It might have been a bigger problem when he was writing this book.

I LOVED the sections where he was sharing anecdotes about Lawrence Revere, another earlier blackjack card counter and notorious character. That was probably the most entertaining part of the book.

Here’s the table of contents.

  • Cashing in on Blackjack Gold
  • The Game of Blackjack
  • Choosing a Place to Play
  • Dealing with the Dealer
  • How to Play Smart (Without a System)
  • Having Fun on Vacation: Basic Strategy
  • Winning in Occasional Casino Play: Hi-Opt I Card Counting
  • Professional Casino Play: Hi-Opt I Play Strategy
  • Blackjack Outside the Casino
  • Ten Tips for Hi-Opt I Players
  • Playing Courtesy of the Casino
  • Staying Ahead of the Game

The book also features a glossary and multiple basic strategy charts in the appendices.

You might be able to find a better book about card counting, but this one’s at the top of my list.

5 – The Theory of Poker: A Professional Poker Player Teaches You How to Think Like One by David Sklansky

I don’t know any serious poker player who suggests any book besides The Theory of Poker when asked about essential strategy guides.

It’s safe to say that you could master everything in The Theory of Poker and never really need any other poker strategy book. You could figure everything else out you need for any poker variation by getting a complete grasp of the concepts in this book.

One of the virtues of Sklansky’s writing style is clarity.

Another is simplicity.

The most important concept I learned from The Theory of Poker was the semi-bluff.

When you’re bluffing, you have a hand that’s dominated, but you’re hoping your opponent will fold.

With a semi-bluff, you have a hand that’s probably not the best hand, but it has potential to improve to a better hand.

You win if your opponents fold, but you also win if they call, and you hit your hand.

This makes a semi-bluff more profitable than a naked bluff.

I was completely unfamiliar with this concept before I read The Theory of Poker.

That might not be the most valuable topic inside the book; it was just the most valuable thing that I learned from it.

Here’s the table of contents.

  • Beyond Beginning Poker
  • Expectation and Hourly Rate
  • The Fundamental Theorem of Poker
  • The Ante Structure
  • Pot Odds
  • Effective Odds
  • Implied Odds and Reverse Implied Odds
  • The Value of Deception
  • Win the Big Pots Right Away
  • The Free Card
  • The Semi-Bluff
  • Defense Against the Semi-Bluff
  • Raising
  • Check-Raising
  • Slowplaying
  • Loose and Tight Play
  • Position
  • Bluffing
  • Game Theory and Bluffing
  • Inducing and Stopping Bluffs
  • Heads-Up on the End
  • Reading Hands
  • The Psychology of Poker
  • Analysis at the Table
  • Evaluating the Game

The book also includes appendices with the rules for various poker games (5-card draw, 7-card stud, Texas hold’em, 5-card stud, draw lowball, razz, and high-low split) and a glossary of poker terms.

6 – The Frugal Gambler by Jean Scott

Most people spend little time thinking about how to become a successful low roller at the casinos. After all, it’s the high rollers that get all the perks, right?


The Frugal Gambler is all about how Jean Scott uses her frugal approach to getting maximum value from her gambling activities in Las Vegas.

You can think of The Frugal Gambler as a modern, practical version of Max Rubin’s Comp City (which is also worth reading, by the way).

Scott focuses largely on combining video poker with the best pay tables and comps programs to get a small mathematical edge over the casino.

But she also provides information about other casino games and how to use the same approach with those games – even if that approach works better with video poker.

It’s as good a resource for anyone interested in coupons and comps in Las Vegas as anyone could ask for.

One of the best tips in the book involves intentionally getting bumped from flights so that you can get credit toward future travel. I’ve done this in the past, and it works.

Here’s the table of contents.

  • Introduction – from Uncle Wiggley to Deuces Wild
  • Raining on the Casino’s Parade
  • Great Expectations – A Reality Check
  • Slot Machines – Handle with Care
  • Video Poker – The Meat and Potatoes
  • Slot Clubs – Join or Else
  • Comps – Your Just Desserts
  • Promotions – Casino Gravy
  • The Bump – Airline Comps
  • Long Term in Las Vegas – or Having a Life
  • Pyramid Power
  • Ethics and Gambling – Strange Bedfellows
  • Breaking Even is a Terrific Thing

7 – The Man with the $100,000 Breasts and Other Gambling Stories by Michael Konik

Unlike most of the books on this list, The Man with the $100,000 Breasts and Other Gambling Stories isn’t a how-to book.

It’s a book of anecdotes and stories about gamblers.

You might be able to learn something from these stories that you can apply to your own gambling career, but you might not.

That’s okay – because this book is more entertaining than almost any other volume recommended in this post.

And you’re bound to be curious about the title.

It refers to a gambler who took a $100,000 prop bet involving getting breast implants and living with them for a year.

I’ll let you read the book for more details on that story.

Here’s the table of contents – this book is organized into sections

  • Introduction
  • The Man with the $100,000 Breasts

In the Casino

  • The Cold-Deck Crew
  • A Lot of Crap
  • Count on It!
  • Comp City
  • Out of the Oscars, Into the Pan
  • The $17 Million Man

At the Racetrack

  • The Andy-capper
  • Go, Greyhound!

On the Golf Course

  • The World’s Greatest Golf Hustler
  • The Ultimate Comp

The Straight Dope

  • New, Different, and Unbeatable
  • The Best and the Worst
  • Taking Advantage

Sports Betting

  • The Line Maker
  • Living by the Book
  • Risky Business
  • The Biggest Game of the Year
  • 1-900-NFL-SCAM


  • Shakin’ Down the Sheiks
  • Trump Cards
  • The Grand Old Man
  • The Mozart of the Poker Table
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Seed
  • The (New) Biggest Game in Town
  • The Hand You’re Dealt

8 – Positively Fifth Street by James McManus

Most gamblers don’t write well. I’ve worked with enough of them that I’m confident in this fact.

Most writers don’t know much about gambling, either. I’ve worked with them, too. Apparently, it’s a big learning curve.

James McManus, though, is not only a GREAT writer, but a solid gambler, too.

Positively Fifth Street is McManus’s account of the World Series of Poker in 2000.

But the book also covers the murder trial of the topless dancer and her boyfriend, who were accused of killing Ted Binion, the owner of the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas.

Positively Fifth Street is easily the most literary book on this list.

You might not learn much about how to gamble, but you’ll enjoy the book thoroughly nonetheless. The story’s too good for anyone interested in gambling not to enjoy.

Here’s the table of contents.

  • The End
  • Dead Money
  • Family, Career, Even Life
  • Black Magic
  • Urge Overkill
  • The Poker of Science
  • Nobody Said Anything
  • Chicks with Decks
  • Death in the Afternoon
  • Book-Learned
  • On the Bubble
  • Song for Two Jims
  • Tension-Discharge
  • The Last Supper
  • Either Way
  • Zombies Is Bawth of ’Em
  • Tons and Tons of Luck

There’s also a poker terminology section as part of the afterword.

9 – The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time by Michael Craig

Like Positively Fifth Street, Michael Craig’s The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time is literary in nature rather than instructional.

This is one of its strengths.

Michael Craig might not be the literary giant that James McManus is, but he’s a solid writer.

His account of the biggest money poker games of all time is fascinating. It covers the action over several years between Andrew Beal, a Texas billionaire, and a consortium of pro poker players.

This group of poker pros is referred to in the book as “The Corporation,” and their names are familiar to most poker fans.

  • Ted Forrest
  • Jennifer Harman
  • Doyle Brunson
  • Todd Brunson
  • Howard Lederer
  • Chip Reese
  • Gus Hansen
  • Phil Ivey
  • Barry Greenstein
  • Lyle Berman

They played for three years. Beal won some of the time, but the pros won most of the time.

Beal didn’t quit until he hit a huge loss of $16 million during a single session.

He quit poker after that, but he returned to the game two years later.

Craig followed up with a sequel of sorts in the pages of Bluff magazine, where he chronicled Beal’s return to the game.

Here’s the table of contents.

  • Flipping Pennies
  • Heads Up
  • The Thursday Game
  • The Poker Conjecture
  • Picture Day
  • The Last Lesson of Professor Backwards
  • Gone
  • Jennifer Harman’s Wake-Up Call
  • A Lawyer, Not a Gambler
  • The Big Game
  • The Next Best Thing

10 – How to Make $100,000 a Year Gambling for a Living by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth

If I could only choose two books from this list, I’d choose How to Make $100,000 a Year Gambling for a Living by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth as a follow-up to Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways by Andrew Brisman.

Between those two books, you’ll learn as much about the basics of gambling and advantage gambling as most people could ever hope to.

How to Make $100,000 a Year Gambling for a Living opened my eyes to the reality of how professional gamblers earn a living gambling.

The book clarifies that professional gambling is hard work.

It also clarifies that there’s nothing glorious or glamorous about the life of a professional gambler.

It’s a great book, but like my other favorite book on this list (the Brisman book), this one is dated.

Also, the authors don’t do a good job of distinguishing between slots and video poker. I don’t think anyone calls them “poker machines” in the United States, if they ever did.

That being said, I’d encourage you to read this book to get a grasp on the concepts contained within, rather than the specifics.

Casino game conditions change over time, but the fundamentals of getting an edge at gambling don’t.

Those fundamentals are based on math.

If you understand those underlying mathematical principles, you’ll be able to apply the lessons from this book to the modern gambling environment with little trouble.

Here’s the table of contents.

  • Part One – Blackjack
  • Part Two – Betting Sports
  • Part Three – Horse Racing
  • Part Four – Slots and Poker Machines
  • Part Five – (Usually) Unbeatable Games
  • Part Six – Casino Promotions
  • Part Seven – Casino Tournaments
  • Part Eight – Poker and Poker Tournaments
  • Part Nine – Putting It All Together


Those are the ten best gambling books I’ve ever read, along with my reviews of each.

If you’ve done much reading in the field, you’ll probably think I’ve left some worthy book off the list.

If that’s you, please make your case for your favorite gambling book in the comments below.

Also, if you hate any of the volumes I’ve listed above, feel free to take me to task for recommending it, too.

I have a thick skin.



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