You might have read the odd article on the best blackjack tips or studying racing form, but which gambling books stand out from a very large crowd? Wonder no more as we round up some of the best gambling-themed tomes ever written.

Hopefully, we've made a list that forms the perfect starting point for gamblers. We've broken it down into reference books, history and anecdotes, and some fiction for good measure. Are you well-read? Find out with our essential guide.

PART 1: Guides and Reference Books


Scarne's Complete Guide to Gambling
John Scarne, Fireside, revised: 1986

IN BRIEF: A crucial reference book from one of the world's most respected gamblers.

John Scarne is internationally regarded as an expert gambler but he's also a magician who has been called upon by governments for consultancy (in gambling, we suppose, not magic). While it's a few decades old now, his Complete Guide to Gambling remains a critical reference book.

Referencing a broad range of gambling games, Scarne's book details rules, analyses strategic play, and offers tips and advice. It's also full of quotes and interviews from industry experts and celebrities known to the writer. Consider this book a practical dip into encyclopaedia of gambling.


Harrington on Hold'em
Dan Harrington, Two Plus Two, 2004

IN BRIEF: The definitive guide to Texas Hold 'em Tournament Poker by one of its greatest players.

Poker players will know that Harrington on Hold 'em is actually a series of three books that offers detailed analysis of tournament poker tactics. The trilogy helps you to read your opponents and the table, understand positioning, calculate potential hands and analyse strategy. Harrington even went on produce books on cash games and online poker. Even if you're a novice at poker, this is a crucial guide for any aspiring Phil Ivey or Doyle Brunson.


A Man For All Markets
Edward O. Thorp, One World Publications, 2017

IN BRIEF: A guide to financial success in all gambling endeavours from a man who's experienced it all.

Edward O. Thorp proved his success at gambling in 1966 with Beat the Dealer - a guide to optimum Blackjack play (also well worth a read). Since then Thorp has mastered the financial markets and put pen to paper in 2017 to share the secrets of his success

Strictly speaking, A Man For All Markets this is an autobiography. However, written by a man who wants to share his enormous success, it reads like a 'how to' manual on how to be a gambler. The book is full of tips and tricks, maths and stats, and all from an amazing personal perspective. Consider this a guide of what not to do as much as what to do. A no-brainer for our essential list.


The Perfect Bet
Adam Kucharski, Profile Books, 2017

IN BRIEF: A modern look at the latest theories and technologies - insights about how maths and science will eliminate luck for the gambler.

Sitting neatly alongside our classic guides, here is a book detailing all the latest technologies, tricks and tactics used in the modern gambling industry and highlights differences between land-based and online gambling.

With online gambling at the forefront of the industry boom, what new approaches and strategies does a gambler need to beat the odds? Indeed, can you beat the odds when you can no longer read your opponent because they're playing in another country?

Kucharski provides the latest perspectives on how maths and computers are taking the luck out of gambling, from casino games to financial markets. For the gambler who wants to be ahead of the curve, this is fascinating and crucial bedtime reading.


PART 2: Histories and Anecdotal Books


Bringing Down the House
Ben Mezrich, Cornerstone, 2004

IN BRIEF: Real-life crime thriller in which six MIT students cracked blackjack and made millions.

Proving how fantastical real life can be, Ben Mezrich charts the seemingly impossible feat of beating the house. In the 1970s and 1980s, six of America's brightest undergrads cooked up a daring plan to overcome the blackjack house edge by devising a card counting system. It wasn't strictly illegal, but certainly highly dodgy if you want to make it through to your graduation with your kneecaps intact. Indeed, at its height, whole casinos were full of MIT teams working the tables and winning fortunes.

The teams' notorious accomplishments have since been adapted into a Hollywood film, 21, starring Kevin Spacey. The film added in some bloody revenge from the casinos (which didn't happen in real life). But even without the violence, Bringing Down The House is still a tense, fascinating look at how systems can really win in the end - until the casinos get wise. Mezrich's sequel, Breaking Vegas, is also highly recommended.


Super Casino
Pete Earley, Bantam Books, 2000

IN BRIEF: A crucial reference book from one of the world's most respected gamblers.

John Scarne is internationally regarded as an expert gambler but he's also a magician who has been called upon by governments for consultancy (in gambling, we suppose, not magic). While it's a few decades old now, his Complete Guide to Gambling remains a critical reference book.


The Man with $100,000 Breasts
Michael Konik, Broadway Book, Revised: 2000

IN BRIEF: Debauched tales that inspire disbelief from the lives of high roller gamblers.

If the title intrigues you, you ain't seen nothing yet. Michael Konik, sports betting journalist and well connected on the on the high roller circuit, travelled American meeting crazy gamblers who can't resist a prop bet. His book is an amazing read, offering a collection of stories about the exploits and escapades of the hard-core gamblers who will do anything for money. The highlight is the titular man who took a $100k bet he wouldn't get breast implants. You can work out what happened next...


Mike Atherton, Hodder & Stoughton, 2006

IN BRIEF: A visceral look at the controversies and pleasures of the modern gambling scene from a British perspective.

Former England cricket captain Atherton takes a searching look at the modern gambling scene since the introduction of the 2005 Gambling Act in the UK. Reflecting on every facet of gambling's broad reach Atherton's scrupulous gaze reveals a brave new world where gambling is more commonplace and accepted than many people realise.

From dabbling in stocks and shares to buying a lottery ticket, Atherton meets with everyone from the super-rich to the everyman to explore the modern state of gambling. The book was written in 2005 so we don't get too much the online poker boom, Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, or the rise of mobile gambling. Perhaps another version, Mr. Atherton?


The Sure Thing: The Greatest Coup In Horse Racing History
Nick Townsend, Arrow, 2015

IN BRIEF: Proving that the bookies don't always win, is this the greatest betting scam in history?

Feel certain that you can't beat the bookies? Think again. This is the remarkable true story of one Irish gambler who proved it was possible to beat the odds, as long as you stopped the bookmakers doing their job.

Fondly known as 'The Italian Job' of betting, the audacity of Barney Curley's 'Yellow Sam' betting coup in the 1970s makes for remarkable reading. Townsend also offers some fascinating insight into how the bookies operated before the Internet and throws in invaluable tips of his own along the way.

The Sure Thing isn't just funny and an entertaining read about daredevil horse betting, it's an insight into bookmaking, meticulous research, and inspirational risk-taking.


PART 3: Fiction Books


He Played for His Wife & Other Stories
Edited by Anthony Holden and Natalie Galustain, Simon & Schuster, 2017

IN BRIEF: An exciting new collection of short stories from award-winning international authors and high profile poker players.

Not just a great collection of poker stories, this is a superb list of authors uniquely celebrating every facet of the much loved gambling game.

Described here as the 'quintessential writer's game' this wonderful treasury has given a wide range of authors the opportunity to explore their passion for the game in creative fashion. Stories include a heads-up with Shakespeare, a ghost repaying a debt and a table that features Goldilocks, Beauty, and the Minotaur's Wife.

It's rare to have such a wealth of talented writers in one book, and even if you're not into poker it's intoxicating stuff. Superb bedtime reading to stimulate your poker ambition.


The Gambler
Dostoyevsky, various, 1867

IN BRIEF: A classic story that shows the fragility of human nature - this age old compulsion to gamble never really changes.

European society mid-1800s, and apparently no-one is impervious to the treachery of the roulette table. Everyone falls under its spell whether wicked or well meaning, from high society or low, they all succumb and are ruined./p>

Of course the tale of The Gambler is as fascinating to the modern gambler as the reason it is told. Dostoyevsky, with a weakness for roulette himself, has accrued substantial debt and is contracted to write a novella in a month to repay it. The result is a tale that speaks volumes of human weaknesses and our turbulent attitude towards gambling. An education to anyone who thinks they can handle their urges.


The Fear Index
Robert Harris, Cornerstone, 2012

IN BRIEF: A prophetic thriller set in the world of financial betting.

OK, so chucking in The Fear Index might be the most obscure gambling reference we've made. But it shows how AI and bots can affect any type of market.

The book charts a few terrifying weeks in the life of Alex Hoffman, a hedge fund guru whose huge success is down to his revolutionary AI software. The software manipulates financial markets based on humanity's levels of fear and panic. The story takes on a terrifyingly personal slant, however, when he discovers he's being hunted.


Further Reading

Want more? Here are some choice reads that didn't quite make our top 12:

  • I Am a Card Counter by Frank Scoblete
  • Spread Betting by Brett Arends
  • Gambling Man by Gary Green
  • Mental Game of Poker 1 + 2 by Jared Tendler
  • Big Deal by Anthony Holden
  • Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker by James McManus
  • Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks: The Science, Psychology & Philosophy of Gambling by Joseph Buchdahl
  • American Casino Guide 2018 Edition by Steve Bourie
  • The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-scenes Story of how John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History by Gregory Zuckerman
| | | | GDPR | Microgaming Casinos | NetEnt Casinos