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Best of John Grochowski

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Grochowski Reviews

10 February 2004

Last year was a busy year for publishers of gambling books and software - so much so that I've barely been able to keep up with all the new product that has crossed my desk.

This week and next, I'm going to clear my bookshelf of items I've been meaning to review, but haven't gotten to.

More Frugal Gambling by Jean Scott with Angela Sparks ($14.95, Huntington Press). Budding comp wizards have been eagerly awaiting Scott's follow-up to The Frugal Gambler practically since the original was published in 1998. It was worth the wait. If anything, More Frugal Gambling is an even more useful guide to the ins and outs of taking advantage of casino comps and promotions. This time Scott, "The Queen of Comps," works with her daughter, Sparks, "The Frugal Princess." The combination helps keep the book grounded. While Scott's bankroll has expanded and she plays bigger money games for bigger comps than she once did, Sparks gives a low-rolling, recreational player's touch. Scott has long been an expert at working the edges, but even her knowledge has expanded. The Frugal Gambler barely touched on slot hosts; now dealing with hosts is an integral part of Scott's repertoire. More Frugal Gambling is an instant casino classic.

Blackjack Bluebook II by Fred Renzey ($16, Blackjack Mentor Press). Renzey's original Blackjack Bluebook takes players beyond basic strategy step by step, each step making players a little better. In this edition with 40 percent new material, Renzey expands on his concepts, giving a more complete explanation of the "Magnificent Seven" hands that call for deviation from basic strategy, and offering card counting systems for several levels of play. While not as powerful as more complete counting systems, his Ace/10 Front Count is as easy as it gets, and he details other counts for those ready to move up. Renzey makes improving as painless as possible for intermediate players who are overwhelmed by the prospect of plunging into counting cards.

2004 American Casino Guide, by Steve Bourie ($14.95, Casino Vacations). The annual Guide is an incredibly valuable resource for anyone who travels to casino destinations. State by state, Bourie lists every casino in the United States, with addresses, phone numbers, games offered, size of casino floor, number of rooms, buffet prices, admission charges, valet parking fees, senior citizens discounts and special features. That information alone makes it a worthy travelers' companion, but over the years the book has grown into a nice basic guide to gaming, too. I contributed a couple of chapters, as did Bob Dancer, Henry Tamburin, Max Rubin and others. There are essays on blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, slots, video poker, casino comps, promotions and more. In the back are 98 pages of coupons to use while you travel and play.

Million Dollar Video Poker, by Bob Dancer ($16.95, Huntington Press). Video poker aficionados are familiar with Dancer, the video poker pro and strategy expert who writes regularly for Casino Player and Midwest Gaming & Travel magazines. Million Dollar Video Poker isn't strictly a how-to-play book, it's an entertaining journey through a year in which Dancer and his wife Shirley won $1 million playing video poker. Half of that came on one incredible night when Shirley hit a royal flush worth $100,000 on a $25 machine, then Bob topped her with a $400,000 royal on a $100 machine. He takes us through the ups and downs, with the losses, barrings and disappointments as well as the big wins, comps and cash back, that go with playing video poker professionally. Dancer dispenses knowledge as well as entertains, making this one of the best reads in the gaming marketplace.

The Lottery Book: The Truth Behind the Numbers, by Don Catlin ($14, Bonus Books): It's been my pleasure to know Don Catlin for about a decade, since a night in Las Vegas when my wife and I had dinner with him, video poker guru Lenny Frome and Lenny's wife Rhoda at Hugo's Cellar at the Four Queens. Catlin is a mathematician, one who analyzes new games for the casino industry, and he doesn't sugarcoat things. He tells it straight, as when he writes, "Don't let anybody tell you they have a winning strategy for playing the lottery; it's simply rubbish." Now, this is not some don't-play-the-lottery polemic, nor does Catlin overwhelm you with the math. He treats the lottery as a fun, inexpensive way to have a little gambling entertainment while showing what the realistic expectations are for games in every lottery state. Catlin entertains with tales of good luck at the lottery, and cautions with stories of things gone horribly wrong. There's an introduction by Frank Scoblete, but the book doesn't carry the "Scoblete Get the Edge Guide" label that many gambling books from Bonus Books have. Why? Because you can't get the edge on the lottery. But you can have a little fun with it, and Catlin's book is the best lottery guide I've read.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski