The best books about gambling

Whether you’re a gambling hobbyist or a game of chance professional, CasinoPlay always have one piece of advice (well, actually, we have tons of advice but this one is really, really important): always research what you are playing and practice, practice, practice.

While practice is super easy thanks to all the demo modes of online gambling games available at online casinos, the research can be a bit tedious. Wading through the vast resources of the interwebs can become tiring and you never know when the advice you’re reading is actually any good.

Our CasinoPlay crew spends their days playing and reviewing games and online casinos so we asked them what they think are the best sources for rules, strategy, tips and just fun when it comes to gambling.

Surprisingly in this modern digital age, most of our experts actually have real, physical books that they swear by (they reckon it’s far easier to have the book close by for quick reference).

So, for all you fans of gambling and followers of Lady Luck, these are the best gambling books to have at your side.

Guides and strategy books

The number of books about gambling strategies, advice and tips is astounding, although not surprising when you take into account the immense popularity of gambling and casinos both land-based and online. Some of these books are blatant get-rich-quick schemes by con artists and other scam artists but others offer valuable advice for gamblers from all experience levels. Our pick of the bunch

the best books about gambling

Scarne’s New Complete Guide to Gambling – John Scarne

This tome is often referred to as the bible of betting and games of chance. John Scarne was known as the foremost expert and authority on everything to do with gambling. He was a famous magician, legendary card manipulator and expert on all things gambling – even though he never gambled himself.

This guide is a comprehensive collection of rules, odds, house percentages and tips that is invaluable for understanding the world of games of chance from slots to sports betting.

the best books about gambling

Beat the Dealer – Edward O Thorp

Edward O Thorp is a mathematics professor, author, hedge fund manager and blackjack researcher who single-handedly changed the world of blackjack with his card counting strategy.

Beat the Dealer is packed full of charts and examples that will help any blackjack fan from beginner to professional to get an edge over the house whether playing the King of Games at a land-based casino or from the comfort of home at an online casino.


the best books about gambling

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

This book is the result of years of years of mathematical and statistical analysis and covers almost every game that is on offer at any casino. While there are books (like Beat the Dealer) that focus on one game, Gambling 102 takes a much broader approach to give players accurate explanations, assessments and tips on the odds of shaving a little off that house edge.


The History of Gambling

While learning strategies and trying out tips is always intriguing, the actual stories behind what we know as the world’s number one hobby and sport is equally fascinating. From books about gambling in general to books about the unique personalities that have affected the gambling world, a read about the history and background of Lady Luck’s domain is both entertaining and fascinating.

the best books about gambling

Roll the Bones – David G Schwartz

Roll the Bones is an incredible undertaking to document all the stories around the history and origins of famous gambling games. David G Schwartz, historian and director of the Centre for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, has compiled an entertaining narrative history that takes the reader on a journey through the history of gambling, from where games started to how they have evolved to some of the more entertaining figures (both famous and not so famous) that have made a mark on the gambling world.

Read about how Voltaire, the famous French philosopher, worked out how to play the lottery system and clean up in the 18th century. Or how Russian author and philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky lost almost everything in a gambling frenzy at the Baden-Baden casino (still ranked as one of the most opulent and prestigious casinos in the world).

the best books about gambling

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

A glimpse into the exclusive world of professional poker players and the “richest poker game of all time”.

This fascinating book details a series of poker games between billionaire Andrew Beale (the Banker) and a group of Las Vegas pro poker players called “The Corporation”. This group was made up of some of the biggest names in poker, including Howard Lederer (the Professor), Ted Forrest (the Suicide King), Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harman, Chip Reese, Phil Ivey and more.

To give you an idea of the background to the edge-of-your-seat tale: at the start each player had to put down $1 million, each round was a bet of $10,000 to $20,000, the players’ fortunes went up and down like a rollercoaster and the challenge went on for months. With a more than $20 million on the table at the end.


Bringing Down the House – Ben Mezrich

Bringing Down the House – Ben Mezrich

The true story that was the inspiration behind the popular blackjack movie 21, this is the story of the group of MIT students and blackjack players who set up the biggest – and most successful and lucrative – card-counting system in history.

Six college students who manage to take millions from the most sophisticated casinos in Las Vegas ­– what more could any gambler ask for? Apart from the thrilling story, the glimpse into the strategies and mathematics that these card savants employed is absolutely amazing.


Gambling in Fiction

When you need a break from the serious side of gambling, there are a bunch of books that use gambling and gambling related locales to bring our favourite pastime to life in fiction.

From dark and despairing tales to quirky stories to a wild and drug-fuelled romp through Sin City, these are out favourite gambling stories.

The Gambler Fyodor-Dostoyevsky

The Gambler ­– Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Yes, that Dostoyevsky from Rolling the Bones above. The Gambler is a dark but compelling tale of protagonist Alexey Ivanovich’s spiral into loss and gambling addiction.

Ironically, The Gambler was written so that Dostoyevsky himself could pay off his increasing gambling debts and stave off bankruptcy. 

As with much of Dostoyevsky’s work, the narrative and scene-setting abound with glorious imagery and you really feel the darkness of his addiction coming through on every page.


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

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

Moving away from the bleakness of The Gambler is this collection of stories from gambling expert Michael Konik.

These stories, taken from real life, are interspersed with insider tips on playing the comps system, identifying games that should be avoided and gaining an edge over the house to make it an amazing compendium of funny, quirky, weird and interesting stories with a side of good advice for all gamblers.

Quirky is actually a perfect way to describe this book: the titular story, for example, is all about a man who won a $100,000 bet by getting breast enhancement surgery!


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S Thompson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S Thompson

Yes, there is a movie. Yes, it stars Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro. No, it is not as good or enthralling as the book!

Hunter S Thompson’s drug-addled journey through Las Vegas as he chases the American Dream and laments the demise of 1960’s counter-culture is an absolute riot and probably one of our favourite books about Sin City.

It has to be read to experience the insanity that is the mind of Gonzo journalist Thompson and to try to see what is real and what is fiction (the story is based on real experiences that are added to and embellished to create a more vivid and ‘Gonzo’ experience for the reader). If even a tenth of the misadventures of Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr Gonzo, are in fact real, then we have no idea how Hunter actually survived his Vegas escapades!


On the serious side

Problem gambling and gambling addiction is a very real issue for many players. Thankfully there are a lot of resources available to identify and treat the issue. Whether it’s the resources that are offered by land-based and online casino, advice and help from therapists or just reading more about it, there are ways of combatting it.

For players who want to know more about gambling addiction and treatment, a good place to start is reading a bit more about it:


best books about gambling

Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas ­– Natasha Schüll

Edges- Escaping the Blur of Gambling Addiction Kimberley Howard

Edges: Escaping the Blur of Gambling Addiction – Kimberley Howard


best books about gambling

A Day at a Time – Gamblers Anonymous



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