You know, I’m my favorite gambling writer, but everything I know about everything—gambling included—I learned from someone else. When it comes to gambling writers, I’ve learned more from some than from others.
And some of them are just entertaining to read, even if I think their advice is awful.
Below I’ve listed my 10 favorite gambling writers and included several reasons why I love each of them. Keep in mind that just because an author made this list, it doesn’t mean I endorse the strategies he suggests or the advice that he gives.
In fact, some of these writers made the list just because their advice is so awful
1- David Sklansky
I like reading about how to play poker, and I learned to play Texas holdem by reading the strategy section included in Sklansky’s book How to Make $100,000 a Year Gambling for a Living. The book was co-written by Mason Malmuth, but I’m not a fan of Malmuth’s writing. (I’ve read some of his other books.)
But I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve read by Sklansky. I think he has a puckish sense of humor and a unique attitude. One of the most recent books I read by him was DUCY? Exploits, Advice, and Ideas of the Renowned Strategist. A lot of the advice in that book is gambling-related, but some of them apply that kind of thinking to real-life situations.
In a sense, DUCY? Exploits, Advice, and Ideas of the Renowned Strategist is a self-help book from a different point of view. The book includes a great explanation of how to parallel park, too. And Sklansky explains how he handled a particular situation that would scare almost anyone—a home invasion.
Of course, he’s written or co-written more important works than that. The Theory of Poker is essential reading for anyone who’s serious about poker. Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players is also excellent. I also got a lot out of Sklansky Talks Blackjack, which is my favorite blackjack book.
I also used to enjoy Sklansky’s interactions on the Two Plus Two forums. I’m not sure he participates there much, anymore, but at one time he was pretty entertaining.
2- Jean Scott
Jean Scott is not as prolific an author as some of the folks on this list. But I’m a fan of video poker, and I’m also a fan of her unique approach to gambling.
A lot of advantage gamblers focus on making a living from their gambling hobby. Jean’s focus is mostly on how to get the most out of your casino vacations through a combination of taking advantage of promotions and playing top notch video poker.
Her first book, The Frugal Gambler, is essential reading for any casino low roller. She’s also the author of the following books, which are listed below in chronological order:
- More Frugal Gambling
- Tax Help for Gamblers
- Frugal Video Poker
- The Frugal Gambler Casino Guide
- The Frugal Video Poker Scouting Guide
She also writes a blog at Las Vegas Advisor. It’s worth a look.
3- Bob Dancer
Bob Dancer is my favorite video poker guru, but I didn’t enjoy his novels at all. You might get a kick out of them, though. His approach to teaching video poker in his strategy guides is better than any approach I’ve seen in any other book. I actually felt like I could learn correct video poker strategy from his books.
I also enjoyed Million Dollar Video Poker, which is more of a memoir than a how-to book. It details how Dancer won over a million dollars playing video poker over a relatively short period of time in Vegas. I think it was less than a year.
Here’s a list of the strategy guides available via his website:
- A Winner’s Guide to Jacks or Better
- A Winner’s Guide to Double Bonus Poker
- A Winner’s Guide to Full Pay Deuces Wild
- A Winner’s Guide to NSU Deuces Wild
- A Winner’s Guide to Double Double Bonus Poker
Besides those books, you might be interested in some of his other books:
- Sex, Lies, and Video Poker (This is one of his novels that I didn’t much like.)
- More Sex, Lies, and Video Poker
- Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner
Bob writes articles on a blog, too, but it doesn’t look like he’s updated his blog in a while.
4- John Patrick
I include John Patrick on this list because he’s endlessly entertaining. Please buy used copies of his books, though—don’t pay full price. They are, for the most part, not worth the paper they’re printed on. The advice is lousy and flies in the face of logic and math.
But oh, is he entertaining. His writing is awful, full of grammatical errors and seemingly lacking in even a rudimentary knowledge of the difference between proper nouns and regular nouns.
The first John Patrick book I ever read was titled John Patrick’s Slots, which is an entire book of betting systems you can use to play slot machines. One of the gimmicks he uses in that book, which I thought was entertaining, was the names of some of the example players whose approach he denigrates.
For example, one of the “characters” in his book is named Don B. Leeve. (Read it out loud.) Claire Head is another one. Really silly stuff.
Most of his betting systems have a naked pull limit. When you’ve had X number of naked pulls in a row, you’re supposed to leave the machine and go do something else.
Another principle he works with is called a “loss limit.” This is an arbitrary percentage of your session bankroll that you’re willing to lose before you quit. The default is 60%. If you sit down at a slot machine with $100, and you’ve lost $60 playing it, then you’re supposed to quit.
Neither of these arbitrary principles will help you overcome the casino’s house edge on these slot machines, by the way. It’s mathematical voodoo.
One of the first slot systems he teaches is called “The Straight 60.” The premise is this:
You play on a slot machine until you’ve either won 60% of your bankroll or until you’ve lost 60% of your bankroll. Then you quit.
If you put $100 in the machine, you play until you have either $160 or $40, then you quit. The systems get more complicated from there.
He’s written several other books about casino games. I’ve read the one about craps, which isn’t too terrible. I’ve not read the others, but when I find a used copy, I’ll pick it up for entertainment value:
- John Patrick’s Advanced Craps
- Craps for the Clueless: A Beginner’s Guide to Playing and Winning
- John Patrick’s Craps
- John Patrick’s Baccarat
- So You Wanna Be a Gambler
- John Patrick’s Blackjack
- John Patrick’s Video Poker
- John Patrick’s Sports Betting
- John Patrick’s Money Management for Gamblers
- John Patrick’s Casino Poker
- John Patrick’s Advanced Blackjack
- John Patrick’s Internet Gambling
- Advanced Roulette
He has a website, but I don’t recommend visiting it. The design is 20 years old, and he links to multiple questionable sites from his homepage. Those are obviously links that those advertisers paid him for. He also hosts a forum, but it’s not user-friendly at all. He also types in all caps.
What a character.
5- John Grochowski
He goes by the nickname of “the Casino Answer Man,” and that’s how most of his books are titled:
- The Craps Answer Book
- The Video Poker Answer Book
- The Slot Machine Answer Book
- The Casino Answer Book
John Grochowski is a solid writer who gives good advice. His books are pithy and readable. It’s hard to recommend John Grochowski’s stuff too highly.
6- John Vorhaus
A lot of poker players turn their noses up at John Vorhaus’s poker books, the Killer Poker series, but I loved them. Not all the advice in these books are positive expectation tips, though. In one of his books, he suggests raising indiscriminately preflop with your next 5 hands just to scare the other players.
He wrote several books in the series, but then he farmed out the next few books to another author, Tony Guerrera, whose poker advice is much more solid.
Vorhaus also wrote a great book about hosting home poker games called Poke Night. He’s a more entertaining writer than almost any other gambling writer I think of.
Here’s a list of books to think about reading from him:
That’s only a partial list, by the way, and Vorhaus doesn’t limit himself to just writing about poker, either.
7- Ed Miller
Some of the best writing on poker I’ve ever read was from Ed Miller, who used to have a website at the cheekily-named domain “notedpokerauthority.com.” He’s younger than many of the writers on this list. I thought his poker writing was easily digested and well-written.
He’s written (or co-written) a whole mess o’ books, too, including:
- Small Stakes Hold ’em: Winning Big With Expert Play
- Getting Started in Hold ’em
- No Limit Hold ‘Em: Theory and Practice
- Professional No Limit Hold ‘Em: Volume I
- Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em
- How to Read Hands at No-Limit Hold’em
- Playing The Player
- Poker’s 1%
- The Course
- STOP! 10 Things Good Poker Players Don’t Do
His website has moved to Ed Miller Poker.
8- Dan Harrington
He’s not just a poker writer; Dan Harrington won the Main Event at the 1995 World Series of Poker. He’s well-known for being a tight player, but his nickname is “Action Dan.” I love irony, and Dan apparently does, too, because he’s reputed to have chosen his own nickname.
His books contain excellent, well-written advice on specific poker subjects, and they include lots of easily-understood examples:
All Harrington’s books have been published by Two Plus Two, which is also my favorite gambling book publisher.
9- James McManus
He’s probably the most literary of the gambling writers on list, and he’s published at least 5 novels. The gambling books I love James McManus for, though, are Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion’s World Series of Poker and Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker.
If you haven’t read Positively Fifth Street, you should buy a copy right away and get started. It’s a true story, but you won’t be able to put it down.
10- Michael Bluejay
This is the only gambling writer on the list who hasn’t published a book. He has had articles featured in magazines, but most of Michael Bluejay’s writing appears on the web at his excellent website about Vegas. You can find his writing on a number of other subjects at his main website, too.
Bluejay writes about subjects like how to buy a house, how to save money on electricity, and how to save money on airfare.
Besides being a great writer, he’s a really cool guy. I’ve met him in person once and exchanged emails with him throughout the years. We’ve had some conversations via the phone, too. By no means are we close friends, but he’s always been willing to help me out with sage, honest advice.
He also has a unique approach to running his website. He focuses more on serving his visitors than on making money. It’s almost as if making money happens by accident after that.
And those are my favorite authors of gambling books. I’m sure you’d have an entirely different list if you made one. Maybe it would be fun if you left something in the comments about your favorite gambling writers?
Maybe someday you’ll be a famous gambling writer, and I’ll include you on a new list.