Casino Confidential

This is another previously unavailable title from across the pond, where a consignment looks to have arrived in the UK recently and copies are being hawked on Ebay for silly money - over twenty seven quid in one case. I didn't pay that (are you mad?), and my curiosity copy stung me for less than the price of a pint, and with free postage thrown in.

Alas, I think I should have stuck with the Ruddles. No great insights or anything earth-moving or "confidential" between the covers of this one What you have is 176 pages, with 120 of them simply covering the rules of a raft of casino table games and how to play them - combined with advice along the lines of keep a lookout for the "hot" table and/or avoid cold dealers (really?...*yawn*). Possibly something of value here for those who've never stepped foot inside a casino before, or who don't want to look a chump when playing something other than their usual punt for the first time. Hardly "confidential" though? This book might just as well have been entitled "Casino gambling for the first timer", or something similar, although I suspect if this was the case sales would have struggled to make three figures. Even as it is, I'd be surprised if this one clocked up more than a thousand copies across the English speaking world.

Of the 120 pages dedicated to the rules of table games, 20 of them are devoted to playing Texas hold-em, which is a hefty proportion of the total. Having played a bit myself (with the usual ups-and-downs), to my mind just scratching the surface of the subject, as the author does here, insults the vast volumes of wisdom that have been produced on the game by others - others who have played it for a living as opposed to dealing the cards for a living. IMHO, the author would have done far better to just state that the subject matter is far too broad for what his book's all about and referring readers to some of the other in-depth studies and coaching titles available. Having cast an eye over this section, it reminded me of the old adage that a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Best taken with a large pinch of salt quite frankly.

The remainder of the words that wrap around the table games chapters constitute "How the casinos rob you blind" (guess what, there's a mathematical edge built into each and every game offered!), "The five keys to successful gambling" ("your bankroll should be 100 times your smallest bet"), a run down of notorious systems to avoid and an "afterthought" that runs to two pages. The only thing here that hasn't been covered a billion times before by others is the URL of the author's web site, where he states he's happy to answer questions from readers. Problem is, that at the time of writing - 9 years after publication of the book - has disappeared into the ether, so any added value there might have been at the end of the link is now no more.

Overall then, this title's just another exercise in turning some trees into something that's been done by many others, both in print and more recently online. The publisher, Quirk Books of Philadelphia, state that they're ". . . always on the lookout for strikingly unconventional manuscripts and book proposals". One could be forgiven for thinking that they made an exception in this case, or someone must have been nodding the day that Mr Anonymous Pit-Boss walked in and dropped off his manuscript at their front desk?

Another one for the charity shop I think . . .

March 2017.