This week at Inklings Read we take a look at the top 6 casino, slots and gambling related books that we have had the pleasure of reading over the years. There are some fantastic stories that have been written in the last half a century, some of which have gone onto become Hollywood blockbusters, such as Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11, and Nicholas Pileggi’s famous non-fiction Las Vegas themed book that was the basis for the Oscar winning move Casino, staring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. As always, this is just our opinion, and I’m sure there will be readers of our blog out there who may disagree with our short list! We have ranked the books in ascending order.
1) Bringing Down the House – Ben Mezrich
Ben Mezrich has written some great books with a casino and gambling related theme. Of these, ‘Bringing Down the House’ is undoubtedly the pick of the bunch and has become incredibly popular over the years. Based on the true story of a group of MIT students who take down Vegas with an elaborate blackjack card counting technique, Mezrich entertains his audience with an enchanting and gripping story that has gone on to hit the big screens in the movie 21. Whilst there has been much debate as to whether this book can actually be classified as non-fiction, what can’t be challenged is the author’s ability to bring the highs and lows of Las Vegas casinos through the books pages. Definitely in our humble opinion a book all keen gamblers should read.
2) Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas – Nicholas Pileggi
Nicholas Pileggi produces a once in a life time novel that captures Las Vegas at a time when the casino resorts were still in their relative infancy. Pileggi does everything well, keeping his readers captivated with the inside story of a multi-billion dollar gambling industry and the highly secretive and influential people running it. At the heart of the story are the concepts of love, revenge and greed, yet it is Pileggi’s easy writing style that can take readers into the corridors of power and corruption at a time when the casinos of Vegas were firmly in the grip of the Mafia. This book will appeal to a broad selection of casino players, from those that occasionally play free slots through to to the hardened veterans that are more at home on the high roller tables. Rarely have we come across a book which has converted so well onto the big screen, but in this case Martin Scorsese delivers what is arguably one of his masterpieces, in directing the Oscar winning movie based on Pileggi’s novel.
I’ve recently rewatched this fabuluos Oscar winning movie (probably for the 10th time!), and I must say that this epic award winning film really does do the book jutsice. I wasn’t aware that the film marked the eight collaboration between the famous director, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, but it’s clear that there is a real chemistry between the director and the lead character that really brings the story to life. The filming for the film adaption of Pileggi’s book, took place at the Riviera casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Having visiting the casino back in 1997 I can still clearly remember the rows and rows of slots games, including some of my favourite Bally and IGT games that are so difficult to find these days, though they are still available online at www.slotathon.com. Sadly it seems that the Rivera casino has since closed down, though there is a very intersting video on Youtube expoloring the casino prior to the casinos demolition. It truely was a magnificant casino at the time it was built and whilst it had arguably aged when compared to the newer more modern casinos in Las Vegas, it had in my opinion a considerable amount of character and charm. Interestingly, the Riviera casino also played a role in the Hillywood blockbusters ‘The Hangover’ and ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’.
3) The Great Casino Heist – Richard Marcus
Simply awesome…Richard Marcus produces an interesting yarn based on the true story of a Las Vegas casino dealer who joins an elite team of gamblers that travel the world cheating casinos out of millions. This well told story will keep you on edge and should certainly be on every casino fan’s reading list. It covers all aspects of casino play, from popular casino table games such as roulette and blackjack through to slot machines. If you enjoy playing free casino games, then you will definitely enjoy taking the time to read this great book. Not only will you learn about some of the great games available at casinos in Vegas and around the world, but you will also hopefully pick up some tips on how to try and minimise the house edge, and thereby increase your chances of winning.
4) Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids – David Kushner
This is a great story with a strong gambling theme whereby a clever child who has had a difficult upbringing turns himself into one of the world’s most successful professional gamblers. Whilst this is a relatively unknown novel, it will certainly appeal to casino and gambling fans, and it’s uplifting story really does make it an entertaining read. Add it to your summer reading list as we are sure you won’t be disappointed!
5) Whale Hunt in the Desert – Deke Castleman
No, we haven’t lost the plot here! A ‘whale’ is a term used in the casino industry for a ‘high roller’. This is an interesting story which shows the lengths that casinos will go to in order to attract high roller players through their doors. With a backdrop set against 1990’s Las Vegas, this interesting and thought provoking gambling story really does lift the lid on the behind the scenes activities of casinos and their employees.
6) Slot Machines: A Pictorial History
We have been fascinated with old slot machines and their history for some time now. The actual mechanics of the original slot machines such the original Liberty Bell slot machine is simply outstanding. Technology may have come a long way since the first mechanical slots came onto the scene, but the author of ‘Slot Machines: A Pictorial History‘ does a great job in documenting the history of these awesome games. Simply comparing traditional mechanical slot machines to the most modern HTML games displayed on free play slots sites Slotathon.com, shows how far this industry and technology has come in a relatively short period of time. Given the progress that has been made, what the next 100 years holds for the gambling and casino sectors, particularly from a technology standpoint is a question we certainly don’t know the answer to. Technology such as Virtual Reality is starting to emerge in this sector, and whilst it’s still in it’s relative infancy, we believe that nothing beats the physical interaction of playing a traditional mechanical slot machine. They may lack the fancy bonus features and graphics of modern day software driven slot games, but the mechanical nature of these machines means and the connection it creates with players is one that cannot be replaced with software.