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Gaming Book Reviews
by Nick Christenson

The Complete Book of Hold ’Em Poker
by Gary Carson
Published by Lyle Stuart; 2001; ISBN: 0-8184-0605-4; 313 pages; $14.95

The book begins with the obligatory introductory section which describes the basics and mechanics of the game. The bulk of the book lies in the second section, titled “Advanced Concepts.” Here is where Carson details the strategies he uses to win at Texas Hold’em poker. While much of this information has appeared in other books, there are new ideas here. Further, some familiar notions are communicated from a fresh viewpoint, which may be of benefit even to well-read players.

The author writes in a very vigorous style. Carson doesn’t qualify his strategic ideas with, “in my opinion”, and he is often a little relaxed about communicating under what situations his ideas would be more or less applicable. This does not mean that these ideas are bad ones by any means, but I fear that evaluating their appropriateness in different games and situations probably requires skills that a less experienced player does not yet possess. This might make some of these ideas dangerous in the wrong hands. The remaining brief sections cover topics such as cheating, playing for a living, poker information on the Internet, etc. I think Carson might alarm readers about cheating more than he probably intends, but most of the information in this section is well considered. Still, I would have appreciated even more information on several of these topics.

I think the book would have benefited from another editing pass to smooth it out, provide some additional balance between sections, and present some of the overriding themes more consistently throughout. Nonetheless, The Complete Book of Hold’em Poker effectively communicates the author’s ideas about how to play a winning game, and at a refreshingly reasonable price for a poker book of this length. There are enough good concepts in these pages that experienced players should expect to find something that will improve their play. I fear that less experienced players who haven’t developed the tools to think critically about poker strategies might not always be able to easily adapt Carson’s ideas to their game.

American Casino Guide—2002 Edition
by Steve Bourie
Published by Casino Vacations; 2002; ISBN: 1-883768-11-X; 464 pages; $14.95.

The American Casino Guide is divided into two parts. The second part covers the material that gives the book its name. It’s a listing of information about more than 600 casinos located throughout the United States, plus some in Canada. Grouped by city within each state, each listing includes just about everything someone would want to know about the casino.

The first half of the book contains a set of essays providing advice to the prospective gambler; written by people whose names will be familiar to even the moderately well read casino enthusiast. I believe that this part of the book is very much overlooked. Not only does this book contain a great deal of information on casinos, it also contains some of the best introductory information on basic casino gambling, with pointers to excellent books from which one can continue their education.

Not everyone will want to buy an updated edition every year, but I do, and will be more than happy to! In my opinion anyone who plans to travel to casino destinations in the United States will find this probably the single most useful book on the market. I consider it to be an indispensable source of gambling information for both the tourist and the serious gambler.

This story was first published in the Winter 2002-2003 issue of Gambling Times Magazine.

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