Are you looking for a holiday gift for a casino co-worker, a slot fan or a gambler in your life? Don’t bother with suggestions from an internet search engine. You’ll get 10,000 hits and some pretty awful choices. Here’s a list of 10 titles that I put together from the many book reviews I’ve done in this forum over the years that could be excellent gifts.
Slot Machines: America’s Favorite Gaming Device – by Marshall Fey, $29.95 (includes shipping) www.libertybellebooks.com
If you’re a regular “Frank Floor Talk” reader, you’ve heard me talk about this one multiple times. The author’s grandfather invented the first reel spinning machine (The Liberty Belle), and Marshall was a legendary collector of antique machines. All the greatest slot ideas are in here just waiting to be updated with new technology. Ask Marshall to autograph your copy for you.
Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner – by Bob Dancer, $24.95
Bob is the country’s best-known video poker expert. His book is easy to understand and once you complete it, you’ll win more money playing than if you didn’t. He gives excellent tips, whether you’re a pro or a complete novice. Bob and I have been comparing notes on video poker (him from the player side and me on the casino side) for years. There’s no one better.
Roll The Bones: The History of Gambling – David G. Schwartz, $29.95
This is an academic work, but is also a fascinating look at how gaming got its start, which is probably a lot further back than you might have imagined. Schwartz works at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and another title of his should also be on the list: “At The Sands”. It’s the story of the former home of the Rat Pack and some of the casino’s shady early owners.
The Math That Gaming Made – by Andrew Cardno, Dr. Ralph Thomas and A.K. Singh, Ph.D, $96.41
I feel bad for all the times I recommended the earlier versions of this book (which were all excellent), because this 5th edition of the title is even bigger and better. Look for the blue cover and a volume that is 1 5/8-inch thick. Don’t even think about reading it all at once. It is served best in small bites. While it is expensive, ask the folks at QC I if they’ll provide a complimentary signed copy (if not, it’s still well worth the price).
The Money and the Power – Sally Denton (Smith) & Roger Morris, $17.95
This is a slow read due to its excellent documentation. But it is also one of the best chronicles of mob involvement on the strip without all the myths, Hollywood fabrications and conspiracy tales. If you’re in the industry, you need to know this factual background.
The Caesars Palace Coup – Max Frumers & Sujeet Indap, $28.99
The subtitle is “How a Billionaire Brawl Over the Famous Casino Exposed the Power and Greed of Wall Street”. This is a fascinating, well-documented look at how to screw up one of the best gaming companies in the world that was built by the late William F. Harrah. And it’s scary to know that these same folks are now running the Sands properties on the Las Vegas strip.
This Is How They Tell Me The World Ends – by Nicole Perlroth, $30
If you’re not afraid of cyber warfare, you should be. This is a terrifying true tale of how fragile our technology is, not only in casinos, but within the government and the military. It was a NY Times bestseller in the “Non-Fiction” category. But in my mind, it should be in the “Horror” genre.
Finally, if you’re just looking for something to put in the lobby (aka a Coffee Table book), I recommend Fey’s slot book above, “The Art of Gambling Through the Ages” and/or “The Strip – Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream”.
If none of these titles motivates you, the one place you can look on the internet that is not bogus is Huntington Press, which specializes in professional casino and gaming topics (www.huntingtonpress.com).
Merry Christmas and good reading in the New Year.