Top 5 gambling books to read

Slots and cards, tables and wheels, live and online, the world of gambling gives us players a huge pool of entertainment to keep us on the edge of our seats. But every now and then, it’s good to take a step back and reset our minds, our bodies, and our spirits.

Some exercise, maybe a movie or two, time with friends and family, these are all great options that will help us recalibrate and get us fresh and excited for the next round of our favourite casino games.

But what if we could combine both a break away from the games AND a pastime that could help us in our games?

Well, the Online South Africa Casino team have just the thing! Whether you want to go old school with ink on paper or all fancy with e-readers and tablets, we think that the lost art of reading is a sure-fire winner for combining relaxation, intrigue, education, entertainment, and new ways to get our casino games on!

We searched our bookshelves, combed through our electronic files, did some digging on the old interwebs, and found five fantastic reads for all the lovers of the games of chance out there. Some are strategy, some are fiction, some are true life accounts of the gambling world – but all will give you something to think about the next time you sit down at your favourite online or land-based casino.

Top 5 gambling books to read

Best for gambling strategy

Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways – Andrew Brisman

Awkwardly long title aside, the Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways is possibly one of the most comprehensive and intelligent guides to casino games published in the last 20 years, or so the Detroit Free Press claims. And so it should be. When you put ‘Mensa’ in your title, people will be expecting some very clever insights into your subject and, thankfully, this encyclopaedic tome does not disappoint.

Part of the “Mensa Guide to…” series of books that educate and illuminate on subjects like chess, sudoku – and now casino games – it gives a fantastic overview of the ins and outs of casinos and casino games for the beginner gambler. While there are (we assume) some very high brow boffins behind the facts and figures, the book itself is written plainly and is easy to read and understand. It covers everything from slots to keno, from poker to blackjack, and brings in useful information on a wide range of subjects including common strategies for winning, understanding odds and probabilities, money management, and even gambling psychology.

Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways is a valuable addition to any serious gambler’s reading list and, while very much intended for those players looking to go from novice to experienced gambler, will have a lot to offer even the most pro of gamblers out there.

Title: Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways

Author: Andrew Brisman

Publisher: Puzzlewright

Pages: 272

Top 5 gambling books to read

Best for gambling history

Fortune’s Formula – William Poundstone

William Poundstone’s retelling of the background to the infamous Kelly Formula is a tale that involves mad scientists, mafiosos, gambling, sure-fire bets, and the inevitable collapse of a system that couldn’t fail. Along the way we discover how the protagonists took a formula for gambling and turned it into the holy grail of betting: success on the stock markets.

Fortune’s Formula (or, to give it it’s full title, “Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street – man, these gambling books like long titles!) tells the true story of the ‘Kelly Formula’, a gambling strategy system devised by two Bell Labs scientists in the 1950’s, mathematician Claude Shannon and physicist John L. Kelly Jnr.

These two seemingly very different geniuses devised a gambling system based on information theory and, together with mathematician Edward O. Thorp (who is also the author of a number of bestselling gambling guides) they took it to the casinos of Las Vegas and then on to the biggest gambling destination in the world – Wall Street!

Fortune’s Formula charts the development of the formula and the fark and lighter sides of how the system was used to profit from racetracks to casino tables to trade desks.

Title: Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street

Author: William Poundstone

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Pages: 386

Top 5 gambling books to read

Best for autobiographical/poker

Molly’s Game – Molly Bloom

Bringing a bit of glam to the list is the story of Molly Bloom, a super famous high stakes poker hostess immortalised on the silver screen thanks to the Hollywood movie ‘Molly’s Game’ starring Jessica Chastain and directed by Aaron Sorkin.

While the 2017 Oscar-winning movie is great, reading the book and experiencing the story in Molly Bloom’s own words is truly unforgettable. A rollercoaster ride through the world of the highest stakes poker games, a world filled with excess and greed, glamour and danger, a who’s who of celebrities and millionaires, and the ultimate games of poker on the planet.

Everyone wanted in on Molly’s exclusive poker games but only a few were ever invited, and readers can find them all in the pages of this scintillating and thrilling memoir.

Title: Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker.

Author: Molly Bloom

Publisher: It Books

Pages: 272

Top 5 gambling books to read

Best for the psychology of gambling

Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks – Joseph Buchdahl

There’s a famous poker saying: “If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you’re the sucker”. The line has been used in movies like Rounders and by billionaires like Warren Buffet in a letter to shareholders.

It’s a mighty powerful reminder that players of games of chance may rely on a lot of luck, but there are many, many other things at play.

Joseph Buchdal’s book is a fascinating delve into the science, psychology, and philosophy of gambling and a must-read for any serious player. Know your enemy is a military aphorism as apt today as it was during Sun Tzu’s time and, in the player’s case, the enemy is the reliance on luck. Proper players will come to understand their favourite pastime in far more depth and detail, learn the foibles of the human psyche, and get valuable insights and scientifically founded knowledge on how to approach gambling and how to avoid being the sucker taken in by the sharks.

Title: Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks

Author: Joseph Buchdal

Publisher: High Stakes Publishing

Pages: 352

Top 5 gambling books to read

Best for fiction

The Music of Chance – Paul Auster

There are a ton of fiction books that mention gambling, have gamblers as the protagonists, or are set in well-known gambling destinations. There are even fiction books that feature games of chance as the main setting or plot device of the story. But Paul Auster’s The Music of Chance really stands out as a perfect example of that one thing all gamblers love: randomness.

Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie is a fantastic read, Death on the Flop by Jackie Chance is great, Dostoevsky’s The Gambler is a classic, and Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale a definite contender for best gambling influenced story, but The Music of Chance is just something special.

At times harrowing, at times absurd, this novel really plays on the topics of fate and chance as our protagonist, Jim Nashe, falls into and out of riches while making up a scam with a hot-headed gambler named Jack Pozzi.

Quite a complex read but worth every page.

And yes, there is a movie adaptation starring James Spader and Mandy Patinkin but come on now.

Title: The music of Chance

Author: Paul Auster

Publisher: Penguin Books

Pages: 224

Top 5 gambling books to read

You may not be able to read a player, but you can definitely read a book

In our modern, digital world reading is becoming a bit of a lost art. Which is massively sad as there really is nothing to compare with settling in and opening a tale of our favourite things. The OSAC team don’t spend nearly enough times lost in the world of our imagination and that’s a sad reality for a lot of people.

We hope our recommendations give you at least a little bit of food for thought and that they help you get your favourite pastime to the level you want it to be at while also being a bit entertaining.

And that you learn to love to read as much as we do.

Happy reading, players!


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