The list below features the overviews of the best gambling books about casinos, table games and sports betting. This compilation doesn’t only reveal a few fascinating stories, but also inspires you to your own accomplishments, as certain betting strategies can be learned from the following books on gambling.
That’s why we’re about to break it all down for you, by going through a selection of best gambling books that we’ve selected; they are in the form of guides, as well as novels and fiction. While doing our research, we’ve also taken into consideration the gambling books’ ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.
Best Books About Gambling: Guides, Handbooks and How Tos
There’s a deep ocean of casino gambling books out there, so we decided to make a collection of the best ones that may serve as guides, handbooks, or even better- how-to variants. In fact, one of these books from the list that we are just about to describe may even be a perfect gift for gamblers. Here’s our choice:
15 - Beating the Casinos at Their Own Game - Peter Svoboda
(Amazon 3.2, Goodreads 2.5)
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasonal player, this easy-to-read guide will allow you to sneak peek inside any casino and go toward slot machines and sit at the gaming tables with confidence. In his book Beating the Casinos at Their Own Game, Peter Svoboda explains the rules of each game offering unique tips and tricks that may increase your winning potential.
14 - Casino Gambling for Dummies - Kevin Blackwood
(Amazon 4.4 , Goodreads 3.7)
Although it may sound a little dismissive, Casino Gambling for Dummies by Kevin Blackwood is an incredible gambling book especially for those who are absolute beginners. Here, you’ll find out more about different kinds of casino games that you may encounter, especially table games such as blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and poker. Through a few basic strategies, these games have been described precisely - how they work and what the odds of winnings are.
13 - Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts – Annie Duke
(Amazon 4.3, Goodreads 3.8)
In a gambling book Thinking in Bets a former World Series of Poker champion and a bracelet winner, Annie Duke, who later became a business consultant, lists some relevant examples from the world of business, sports, and poker to share tools and tactics anyone can use in order to make better decisions. She explains how decisions that involve uncertainty and the lack of knowledge need to be judged by their process and not their results. Just because you lose a hand, doesn’t mean you played the entire game poorly. This can be applied to any situation in life.
12 - The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time - Michael Craig
(Amazon 4.4, Goodreads 3.9)
Featuring fleshed-out sympathetic characters, remarkable stories, and fascinating human drama, The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King by Michael Craig gives you a unique ride into the world of people living on the edge. The book reveals adventurous world and events around poker games, as well as professional players in Las Vegas casinos. If you want to know what the big boys have been up to, read this book to find out. It is a must-read for all aspiring table game enthusiasts who dream of becoming high stakes poker players.
11 - The Theory of Blackjack: The Compleat Card Counter's Guide to the Casino Game of 21 - Peter Griffin
(Amazon 4, Goodreads 4)
Now, here's a book about the card-counting system - how it works, how to identify the proper strategy and how accurate the method is. The Theory of Blackjack: The Compleat Card Counter's Guide to the Casino Game of 21 by Peter Griffin will entertain you and educate you at the same time. Being a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, and teaching mathematics and statistics at California State University, Griffin here managed to explain the mathematics counting techniques. With his book you'll need some patience and discipline and may eventually become a good card counter.
10 - Best the Biggest Game in Town - Al Álvarez
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 3.7)
The Biggest Game in Town by Al Álvarez tells the story of the World Series of Poker, through a portrait of the hustlers, madmen, geniuses, and local pros who ruled the high-stakes game in Las Vegas. If you’re into poker, you’ll love the writer’s insight into poker – as a way of life – as well as the addiction. Although the book was published decades ago, it still serves as a timeless cult classic – absorbing, and a good read.
9 - Gambling 102: The Best Strategies for All Casino Games – Michael Shackleford
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 3.8)
Going through key strategies that you can use on different casino games, the writer has no intention of convincing you that winning is easy. On the contrary, he takes all factors all into consideration – from giving you an assessment of the odds you face to the main strategies you need to implement in order to lower the odds (as much as you can). In short, playing the best way you can with the least amount of effort is what Gambling 102: The Best Strategies for All Casino Games by Michael Shackleford is all about.
8 - Doyle Brunson's Super System A Course in Power Poker - Doyle Brunson
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 3.9)
Super System is a book written by a true poker legend and genius, Doyle Brunson. Even though some of the strategies and techniques in this book may be out of date, what Doyle Brunson has described here still “does the work” when it comes to teaching people how to play power poker. So, if you are interested in mastering the techniques of Poker, Texas Hold'em, this book would be a perfect match for you.
7 - Bringing Down the House - Ben Mezrich
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 3.9)
Maybe one of the best books about Las Vegas based on a true-story, Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich talks about six MIT graduates who formed a blackjack card team and, being masterminds, took more than $3M dollars from the most sophisticated Vegas casinos. It was all thanks to their mathematical intelligence that they developed a perfect card counting system. The conversational style of writing makes it easy to read, so we definitely recommend it. Plus, one of the best gambling movies – 21 - was based on it.
6 - The Theory of Poker – David Sklansky
(Amazon 4.4, Goodreads 4)
Some successful poker players say that The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky really made a difference in their play. Others also believe that if you’ve never played before, or in case you’ve only played Texas Hold’em tournaments with your friends, you’ll find everything you need to know about the game of poker to get started, right here in this book. In particular, you’ll find different theories and concepts that can be applied to nearly every variation of the game.
5 - Blackbelt in Blackjack – Arnold Snyder
(Amazon 4.4, Goodreads 4.1)
Blackbelt in Blackjack by Snyder is a comprehensive guide to playing this game. It’s about strategy, money management, and table variations. It even goes deeper than other books, explaining details regarding high roller play, team play, and card counting. Some sections of the book are a perfect guide for experienced players who want to use more complex strategy to gain the best results while playing blackjack. Starting from white belt, the storyline takes you through green belt until you finally make it to black belt and become a card counting pro.
4 - American Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling - Andrew Brisman
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 4.1)
Using delightful humor, and through an in-depth discussion, American Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling teaches you to gamble like an educated player. The writer, Andrew Brisman, has a very straightforward approach when talking about odds and probability to separate and explain each game. If interested, you can learn basic strategy in a short period of time. So, if you are a beginner, or consider yourself an intermediate player, this book is an absolute must!
3 - Complete Guide to Gambling – John Scarne
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 4.1)
In his book Complete Guide to Gambling, one the most authoritative figures on gambling who ever lived, John Scarne, gives gambling advice and inside tips, while telling stories about different personalities he met in his life. Once you start reading this guide, you’ll find more about official rules, precise odds and house percentages. There’s also advice on playing strategy, reviewing every game and explaining sporting events that involves placing bets.
The book also provides detailed information on methods of play and rules in all games of chance, while also explaining odds and house percentages, even sleight-of-hand tricks.
2 - A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market – Edward O. Thorp
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 4.2)
One of the greatest mathematicians, Edward O. Thorp, who also happens to be one of the richest and most famous gamblers, wrote several books on card counting. Holding a master’s degree in physics and a doctorate degree in mathematics, Thorp was known as “the father of card counting.” In his how-to book A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market he teaches the world how to think rationally and beat the dealer at the blackjack table.
And not only that, Thorp’s remarkable success caused such a disturbance that many casinos changed the rules of the game to prevent him and the legions he inspired from winning.
1 - Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street – William Poundstone
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 4.2)
The story is about two Bell Labs scientists that discovered the scientific formula for earning big bucks. These masterminds got rich after they managed to apply the basis of computers and the Internet to the problem of making as much money as possible, as quickly as possible. What’s fascinating about this book is that you realise how mathematical everything is.
In fact, once you read Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street by William Poundstone, you’ll learn all there is to know about the history of the Kelly growth formula! And, if you’re into casinos, placing bets, wagering, and trying out your luck, this book is a perfect candidate!
Best Books About Gambling: Novels and Fictional Books
When it comes to books about gambling in the form of novels and fictional books, here’s our selection of gambling-related novels that everyone should read.
15 - Fools Die - Mario Puzo
(Amazon 4.1, Goodreads 3.7)
Mario Puzo’s Fools Die is an epic thriller about two brothers, who get into the dangerous world of high-stakes gambling where law and organized crime are one and the same. Played out in publishing and the film industry, the book portrays a bad side of an exceptional good person. The storyline is about the weak choices of life and how people easily become consumed by power, envy and violence in Las Vegas, New York and Holly wood.
14 - The Frugal Gambler – Jean Scott
(Amazon 4, Goodreads 3.6)
Jean Scott is the America's most celebrated low roller who became popular in 1998, right after the publication of her book The Frugal Gambler. She is famous for staying at hotel-casinos, up to 3 months a year, without having to pay for a single cost. She simply became a household name to casino aficionados as she gets stuff for free – meals, massages, manicures, clothes, jewelry, even gifts. How does she do it? Well, you’ll have read the book to find out - it’s a page turner.
13 - Sharp Sports Betting - Stanford Wong
(Amazon 4.3, Goodreads 3.6)
For those of you willing to increase your winning chances, this is one of the best books on sports betting and it’s quite a catch! Namely, Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong will show you how to develop big picture thinking and, in doing so, make some clever moves on sports betting. There’s a fair bit of math involved, but don’t let that scare you – understanding some simple math will help you become a better sports gambler.
12 - God Doesn’t Shoot Craps – Richard Armstrong
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 3.6)
Richard Armstrong’s God Doesn’t Shoot Craps is an extremely exciting tale that will make you laugh out loud. Danny Pelligrino is the main character - a straight-up con man who uses a direct mail get-rich-quick scheme to make money thanks to his naive customers. After he meets a filthy rich inventor, Virgil Kirk, who mastered craps strategy, Danny discovers that Virgil’s formula works like a charm and is going to be very profitable. Soon, he claims to have found a way to get an edge on the house and is off to build a fortune.
11 - Casino Royale - Ian Fleming
(Amazon 4.4, Goodreads 3.8)
Published in 1953, Casino Royale is the first novel written by Ian Fleming. The book is based on James Bond’s adventures taking place in the high-roller casino, in France. Bond is assigned by a British Secret service to bankrupt Le Chiffre, the treasurer of a French union and a member of the Russian secret service, in a high-stakes baccarat game. If you’ve never read any of Fleming’s works, and are familiar with Bond (played by Daniel Craig in the 2006 film based on the book), Casino Royale is a must-read.
10 - The Old Curiosity Shop - Charles Dickens
(Amazon 4.4, Goodreads 3.8)
Charles Dickens' portrayal of the innocent and unfortunate Nell made The Old Curiosity Shop a bestseller that captured the hearts of many. The story revolves around Nell Trent and her grandfather, both residents of The Old Curiosity Shop in London, where the latter is a depressive character who also turns out to be a gambling addict.
After losing the money he borrowed, his house gets taken away, and the two tragic characters are thrown into a shady world and dangerous streets of Victorian London. The book features contrasts like: middle childhood and old age, beauty and cruelty, freedom and captivity.
9 - The Music of Chance - Paul Auster
(Amazon 4.4, Goodreads 3.9)
The Music of Chance by Paul Auster is another novel on our list of books on gambling. It is about fate, responsibility, loyalty, and the meaning of being free. After leaving Boston in pursuit of freedom, the main character, Jim Nashe, picks up a gambler Jack Pozzi, a young man with a temper and a plan. The two were hoping to scam two millionaires, but their plan didn’t go well.
Instead, they entered a poker game against two rich eccentrics with Nashe's last funds. After losing that game, they build a wall as a way to clear the debt. And, there is a shocking ending that nobody saw coming.
8 - Last Call - Tim Powers
(Amazon 4.3, Goodreads 4.1)
Tim Powers’ Last Call novel is based on the main character, Scott Crane, who is forced to continue the high-stakes game of a lifetime by putting everything he has in it, risking it all. Crane is a poker pro whose wife just died, making his life falling apart. Just when he thought it could not get any worse, parts of his past came back to haunt him. In particular, a strange card game from 20 years ago turns out to be a when and where he may have lost his soul. You’d have to read the book to see how he tries to win his soul back.
7 - Once A Gambler: The Escape - Miikka Anttonen
(Amazon 4.3, Goodreads 4.2)
Once A Gambler: The Escape is a journal of those early days when 10-year old Miikka Anttonen discovered gambling and started to place bets. Studying sports betting odds led him to score many large wins - but on the other hand, this habit made him drop out of high school. That said, The Escape gives its readers a possibility to take into consideration both sides of the gambling world, from Miikka’s quitting high school to jet-setting around the world, $100,000-dollar worth paydays. Give this book a try as it has been a bestseller ever since it was published.
6 - The House Always Wins - Brian Rouff
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 4.4)
The House Always Wins by Brian Rouff is a fast-paced story stunningly narrated by the main character, Anna. After a pair of newly weds -Anna and Aaron- came to Las Vegas, they moved into a Victorian mansion haunted by the ghost of a Sin City racketeer. Then, Anna got a notice from a corrupt casino owner that he's buying up all the properties on her street, including their house. And that’s when they begin digging hard to beat the system.
Once you start this book full of easy-going descriptions, you just won’t be able to put it down, so you might as well clear your schedule before buying it. The title itself “The house always wins” is more of an indication to those who gamble to realise (sooner or later) that the odds are against them.
5 - Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas – Nicholas Pileggi
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 4)
Nicholas Pileggi’ book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas was a number one bestseller that was later turned into Scorsese’s Academy Award–winning movie GoodFellas. This is a Mafia-style book about love, murder, and revenge. It’s an author’s view of how the mobsters and their activities working in Mafia controlled casinos in Las Vegas.
Being involved in different criminal activities including loan sharking, burglary, murder, armed robbery and gambling, these gangsters had full control over Sin City’s nightlife, stealing millions of dollars for their bosses. If you loved the movie, you'll love the book even more!
4 - The Hustler - Walter Tevis
(Amazon 4.5, Godreads 4.2)
Walter Tevis’ book The Hustler tells a story of a man who is having a hard time struggling with his anger and his self-esteem. Fast, sharply written, the book revolves around the victories and losses of one "Fast" Eddie Felson.
He is a pool hustler who travels from one town to another – all the way from California to Chicago - tricking strangers into playing against him. But everything changes when he meets Minnesota Fats, the true king of the poolroom. Even if you don't play pool, you'll enjoy reading this book.
3 - The Gambler - Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
(Amazon 4.3, Goodreads 3.9)
Dostoevsky's Gambler reflects the author’s addiction to roulette, which was also an inspiration for the book. He completed the novel in 1866 after being given a strict deadline to pay off gambling debts. It is a must-read story about Alexey Ivanovitch, a young tutor working for a formerly wealthy Russian general.
Through his stunning psychological portrait, Dostoevsky once again manages to reach the heights of drama and, being an extraordinary introspective narrator he is, Dostoyevsky best describes the feelings, anxiety, and what drives a gambling addict.
2 - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
(Amazon 4.6, Goodreads 4.1)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson follows the main character Raoul Duke, and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, taking a long weekend road trip that has gone down, as they go to Las Vegas in order to chase the American Dream. Using his slapstick humor, the author develops an understanding on American drug culture in the late 20th century.
With Thompson’s metaphors and with grotesque features, the story is entertaining and insightful, and is based on some real-life events. Some critics even called the book “Thompson's crowning achievement in gonzo journalism.” Highly-recommended read.
1 - Dice Angel - Brian Rouff
(Amazon 4.5, Goodreads 3.4)
Here’s one of the highest-rated books on gambling and definitely worth your while. Dice Angel by Brian Rouff is based on a fictional character - James Delaney Jr - who is the owner of a Las Vegas bar that he inherited from his father. After a poker machine robbery incident in his bar, he realises he lost thousands of dollars that crooks took away.
Now he has to gather all that money to save his bar before the IRS gets involved. If you are looking for a story that will make you laugh, full of lively characters where you’ll sympathise with the main one, you should definitely grab your copy!
Having in mind that there are people just enjoy taking risks every now and then, others who place bets for fun, and those who take gambling seriously, we have compiled a list of the best books on gambling as each of them gives you the answer whether placing bets is the result of luck, whether casinos can be beaten at their own game, or the house always wins.
And - if you happen to want to take a break from reading but still stay in the (gambling) zone - give our podcast episodes a listen!