1001 Great Gambling Tips
Graham Sharpe

Published by High Stakes Publishing, this one is two hundred and thirty four pages in length and was priced at a penny short of a tenner when it was published in 2008. So by my reckoning that's just under a penny per nugget of wisdom. On the surface a bargain . . . if of course there was plenty of substance behind them. Having read through a big chunk of it, and speed read the rest, frankly I was left feeling underwelmed by what I'd found. Perhaps it should have been entitled "300 tips and 701 anecdotal quotes of questionable value"?

After the intro, and the first chapter entitled Absolutely Vital Advice (which includes such gems as "never bet with money you cannot afford to lose"), the first specific chapter is Betting Exchanges. Being a recreational punter, and never having had a desire or need to eek out the nth degree in the way of prices, I've never got into the Betfair thing and playing the bookie (viz-a-viz laying outcomes as opposed to betting on them occuring) - as such I thought this would be a good grounding for me. The chapter is made up of fourteen pages of wisdom from various personalities and although I've no personal experience to compare the offerings to they all seem to be very generalised and qualify for a tick in the "bleeding obvious" box, ie "never chase your losses" and "take advantage of the betting/activity histories provided". The chapter after that is one on Spread Betting (something I think should carry a public health warning for your common-or-garden recreational punter) and the one after that Sports Betting - which covers the footie, golf, tennis and cricket. On page seventy-nine there's even a few words by way of tips for pool hustlers (ie "Don't walk into a place with your own cue..."). Really? Again, much of what's written is very generic, ie "Lay Tiger Woods in every Ryder Cup match he plays in" and "Back Pakistan to win every Karachi test match" - whether these, and others of a similar ilk, have stood the test of time since 2008 I can't say as frankly I can't be arsed to do the research.

The next section of the book is devoted to Horse Racing and this accounts for 103 of the 234 pages between the covers. I strongly suspect the GGs are the author's main interest. Lots of quotes and anecdotes from lots of people . . . with one that randomly jumped out of page 85 being:

"The pocket calculator possesses a vast potential for finding winners that few have dreamt of or appreciated." - "And if you want to check out writer John White's assertion you'll need to find yourself a copy of his 2001 book Racing Systems with the Pocket Calculator."

Racing Systems with the Pocket Calculator is actually a re-vamp of John White's original publication of a similar title from 1992. As it happens I have a copy of the 2001 version and, after red-lining races with more than ten runners or over short distances, all it amounts to is a "system" which is based upon adding together the numbers from the official rating for a runner and the (then) TopSpeed rating and, after adding on or taking off a bit for this and adjusting for that, using the outcome of these calculations to determine the top selections to bet on. To me that doesn't look a million miles away from simply betting the favourite and I doubt whether, over the longer term, adopting this approach will overcome the bookies' overround on a typical horse race. Whether or not John White's use of a pocket calculator qualifies as something of substance to include in a book on gambling tips I think is open to question? Still it helped fill a page.

Two things I do know a little about is playing poker (mainly online) and casino games. Both have a chapter devoted to them. Outside of the many anecdotal quotes from others over many years, there are some poker gems offered by Julian Thew, a respected British pro player. These are, IMHO, mainly common sense. This chapter winds up with four bland pointers from Snooker ace and former world-champion, Steve Davis, who apparently was/is a poker enthusiast and was lifted from an interview he gave to Sport magazine in 2008. There's nothing like blagging someone else's work to pad out the covers of a book eh?? With 1001 Great Gambling Tips one could be forgiven for thinking that this was the main approach to pulling together something sufficient to make up the manuscript page count.

The chapter entitled In the Casino got off to a flaky start, as the opening "tip" comes from Brett Morton, author of "Playing Roulette to Win" (published 2004); "A good dealer wanting to help you win can do so", and Mr M suggests making friends with the dealer if possible. Frankly laughable. There's some more from Mr M, ending with the gem "Past numbers are a route map. They may tell you that the numbers have been truly random or that the dealer is favouring Red or Odd or a segment of the wheel". And how exactly would it be possible to determine that without taking a laptop to the tables and sitting there for at least several hours keying the results into a spreadsheet? And, of course, whether the results were down to some sort of overt bias rather than simply the vagueries of the variance fairy? Disappointing that Graham Sharpe included this nonsense in a book that, I'm assuming, he thought readers would take seriously. Or perhaps he was surreptitiously having a laugh at the book-purchaser's expense whilst expecting them to pay for the privilege?

Overall then, I can't comment on what I've read about things I know little or nothing about, but based on the "tips" relating to matters I am familiar with I'm afraid to say I've concluded that 1001 Great Gambling Tips is simply some lightweight reading that has little to offer readers. Considering that it's now twelve years old, and regularly makes references to occurances that had just passed at the time of publication but which are now history, it's not one I'd recommend people go out of their way to obtain and read. If you find one that has a 50p sticker on it and it falls off of a shelf at the local charity shop possibly, but at the full cover price? Nah. Sorry Graham.

Graham Sharpe worked for William Hill for 45 years, starting out with them as an eighteen year old boardman in one of their highstreet betting shops in 1972 and working his way up to the position of group Media Relations director. In 2017, at the age of 66, he left 'Hills, having accepted a VR package as part of a group restructuring. As well as being highly regarded as a PR guru, and top of his trade within the bookmaking sector, he is also a prolific author with a raft of other titles to his name - most of which are still available via Amazon or AbeBooks. The Racing Post report on his departure from 'Hills can be read here: headline-maker-sharpe-to-leave-william-hill-after-45-years.

August 2020.