SLOTS Playing To Win
Tony Korfman

This pocket sized, tea-break read of 47 pages was a curiosity purchase that I picked up on EBay a few days ago. It was originally published in 1985 but my copy is the 12th reprint dated 2002, so the publishers, Gaming Books International, must have experienced sufficient demand over time to justify pushing the reprint button on eleven subsequent occasions. Bearing in mind how slot machines have become more sophisticated over the period between the initial publication and my version, and how online gaming and slot game offerings developed from the mid-nineties onwards, by 2002 it was definitely a tad dated and one does wonder why a publisher would want to spend money on reprinting a seventeen year old pocket guide? Perhaps it sold in its millions?

All of that aside does it offer anything that justifies its US$3.50 cover price, or would the money be better off being spent on fourteen 25¢ punts on your favourite box of flashing lights? There's a bit there about Charles Fey, the man who designed and built the first fruit machine in the late 1890s and how he struck deals with local hostelry owners to put them in their premises on a profit split basis, a bit about how modern slots work and the difference between mechanical and computer based machines, the odds of hitting a jackpot based on the number of "stops" on each reel, a bit about RTPs/paybacks and what that means and a few pages on the emergence of video poker as an electronic slot game derivative. Although all of that just scratches the surface of the subject matter discussed, for the uninitiated it would fill in the relevant gaps in the knowledge void - anyway, what do you expect in thirty one 5"x7" pages (the final sixteen are simply a "slots glossary", answers to questions posed earlier on and five pages of ads for more titles from the same publisher - with the final page being the order form)?

All in all then, even though there's little to consider if playing the slots are your thing, this one was never written to be anything other than a mildly informative lightweight - and on that basis it does tick the box. Back in 1985 it might have been something that you gave your "non-gambler" great-aunt just before she flew out on her holiday excursion of a lifetime that included a stop over in Sin City? I couldn't say for sure but even then I suspect for most who acquired a copy it was a one-time read. Nowdays it's possibly only something to complement your collection of historic gambling related titles and that's about it. Although SLOTS Playing To Win isn't thick enough to level off a wonky table (so finding room on my bookshelf wouldn't be an issue) I won't be hanging on to my copy.

Tony Korfman spent his adult working life working in the casino industry in the US, and after retiring joined the pro-poker circuit - clocking up a very respectable US$355K in documented tournament winnings along the way. He wrote other titles as part of his "Playing To Win" series covering blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps, keno and video poker as well as his more recent 389 page Texas Holdem: Tournaments, Cash Games and Embarrassing Social Gas which was published in 2007. He passed away in 2014 at the age of 71.

May 2021.