Monday, March 31, 2008 | 2 a.m.
The opening of baseball season marks the 44th anniversary of the Gambler’s Book Shop at 630 South 11th St., but its best-selling product this spring is not a baseball betting book.
Instead, it’s a recently released two-volume set on no-limit Texas hold ’em cash games by Dan Harrington titled “Harrington on Cash Games: How to Win at No-Limit Hold ’em Money Games.”
If you find the no-limit hold ’em games in Las Vegas poker rooms becoming tougher, it’s probably because of the popularity of Harrington’s books, Gambler’s Book Shop proprietor Howard Schwartz said.
Harrington and co-author Bill Robertie, following their acclaimed three-volume set on Texas hold ’em tournaments (2004-06), turn their attention to virtually all facets of hold ’em cash games — live and online, shorthanded and “deep stack.”
“Poker players have been waiting for a couple of years for these books, ever since the tournament books went over so well,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz has had to make 10 trips from his store near downtown Las Vegas to the Henderson warehouse of Two Plus Two Publishing to replenish the stock of Harrington books, a hot seller by mail order as well as walk-in trade.
Harrington and Robertie continue the tradition of starting each book with a quotation from “The Cincinnati Kid.” This one, appropriately, goes:
Yeller: “Why you always bettin’ out like that, anyways?”
Doc: “The bet was correct. He should not have called.”
Yeller: “Better get yourself a new book Daddy.”
Each volume of “Harrington on Cash Games” sells for $34.95.
Although this spring marks 44 years since the late John and Edna Luckman founded the store (then called the Gambler’s Book Club), “unfortunately I cannot at this time offer 44 percent discounts on purchases,” Schwartz said.
The best of the baseball betting books, according to Schwartz, is the 2008 edition of Michael Murray’s “Betting Baseball” ($24.95).
An update of Murray’s original 2004 version of the book, “Betting Baseball” is noteworthy for its discussion of how the betting line is created in individual baseball games as well as esoteric topics such as the impact of umpires and stadium layouts on the outcome of games.
“I know this will disappoint some gamblers, but about the only thing we still don’t have is a book that gives you all the scores of the baseball season before it’s played,” Schwartz said.
Last week’s column on the minor art form of counting cards in blackjack generated plenty of responses, with two standing out.
One retired card counter, who plied his trade in Nevada from 1968 to 1986, reflected on how conditions in the game changed through the years.
During one stretch early in his career, the former counter calculated he had risked $1 million at the tables with a $2,000 profit to show for it — a return of just two-tenths of a percent. Card counting is not easy money, but it’s not supposed to be that much of a grind either, he thought.
He said he figured the dismal return was probably a result of facing too many “mechanics,” or dealers employed to cheat for the house — supposedly a common occurrence in the bad old days of the 1960s gambling scene. Once he learned to avoid suspicious dealers, his return on investment rose significantly, the ex-counter said.
Another reader suggested — correctly — he had me beat for best “backoff” (when you’re informed your blackjack action is no longer welcome).
He said he was playing at the Golden Nugget back when the downtown casino still dealt a traditional single-deck game. The pit boss stood right next to him and started to count cards out loud as they were being dealt, while laughing (surely an evil, perhaps maniacal laugh).
“I tipped my hat to his gentlemanly suggestion and left,” the reader wrote.
The kicker: Both the player and the pit boss were using “Hi-Opt II,” a fairly advanced counting system, so they really had him dead to rights.