The Top Gambling Books of All Time

Stacks of black and gold chips flanked by pairs of Aces on either side.

Whether you’re someone who occasionally likes to play some online casino games or a passionate gambler, you’re bound to find a great read on the subject in our list of the top gambling books of all time.

6 of the best gambling books available today

View of the Las Vegas Strip at nighttime.

1. Bringing Down the House – Ben Mezrich

Amazon rating: 4.6/5

Goodreads rating: 3.9/5

This story is told from the point of view of Kevin Lewis, an MIT graduate who’s invited to join a blackjack club, along with the institute’s greatest mathematical minds. The leader of the club believed that blackjack could be “solved”, so the students developed a card-counting system that would eventually allow them to become millionaires. 

Not long after they realize they were right, they take their card-counting system on the road, racking in hundreds of thousands of dollars all over Las Vegas. But it’s not long before the casino operators catch on, and these MIT students discover that this isn’t just a game.

Bringing Down the House is based on a true story, but claims have been made that so many liberties are taken to protect the identities of those in the book, that it crosses the line from truth into fiction. Regardless, it’s still a smashing tale that was turned into a hit film, and is enjoyed by readers around the world.

2. Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything – Kevin Cook

Amazon rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads rating: 3.95/5

Titanic Thompson, as he was known, was given his nickname because he could “sink anyone”. This book details the story of his life, from where he grew up to how he taught himself how to count cards and shuffle, even though he was mostly illiterate. The ultimate hustler, he would bet on just about anything that he thought he could win. This included golf, cards and even throwing objects over high buildings!

What’s more, this book sheds light on a bygone era of American history: the 1920s and 1930s, when many other enigmatic characters made a name for themselves too, not least Harry Houdini and Al Capone.

If you’re a fan of historical nonfiction and biographies and are interested in betting history, you’ll appreciate this book. 

3. Scarne’s New Complete Guide to Gambling – John Scarne

Amazon rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads rating: 4.11/5

While many casino games are designed to be based on pure luck, others – including blackjack and poker – require a bit of strategic expertise to win when the stakes are high. 

Thankfully, some people are so experienced that they’ve made it their life’s mission to share what they know with the world. One of these people is the legendary John Scarne.

As someone who knew the industry inside out, and even consulted governments on their gambling strategies, Scarne also played his fair share of games and met some interesting people along the way.

You can read all about this in Scarne’s New Complete Guide to Gambling, which includes all kinds of valuable information on rules, advice, instructions, and strategy. It also covers all sorts of games and sporting events, so no matter what kind of betting you’re into, you’re sure to learn something. 

4. Roll The Bones: The History of Gambling – David G Schwartz

Amazon rating: 4.6/5

Goodreads rating: 3.89/5

Placing bets to win money has a rich history, from ancient games to modern-day casinos. In Roll the Bones, David G Schwartz takes us on a journey from the origins of betting in the Stone Age, with knucklebones and divination rituals, to the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip.

In this latest edition, there is also more of a focus on the history of casinos, from the first modern-day establishments in Venice in the 1600s to the multibillion-dollar industry in Asian meccas like Macau and Singapore. The book also highlights the history of placing bets in the US, including the Vegas Strip and Atlantic City.

If you’re interested in taking a deep dive into the roots of betting across the world, and how it has more recently evolved from an illegal, back-door activity into a fully-fledged entertainment industry, this book is for you.

5. The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book – Lance Humble

Amazon rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads rating: 4.05/5

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino table games in the world and requires a certain level of skill to win. The game might sound simple enough, but there are many different strategies that you can learn to help you improve your chances of beating the dealer. 

In The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book, you’ll learn all kinds of helpful tips, from how to choose where to play and how to pick a dealer, to how to know if other players are cheating. If you’re just starting out, this guide also includes all the rules you need to know to play, in both the US and abroad.

Once you’ve covered the essentials, it also gives some helpful advice on basic strategy, so you can always use the cards you’ve been dealt to your advantage. If you’re looking to improve your blackjack game, reading this book is a good place to start.

6. One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey ‘The Kid’ Ungar, The World’s Greatest Poker Player – Nolan Dalla and Peter Alson

Dealer pointing to a spot on a blackjack casino games table.

Amazon rating: 4.7/5

Goodreads rating: 4.03/5

Famous poker players are like rock stars in their own right, including figures like the late Stuey Unger, who is considered by many to be the greatest card player of all time. In One of a Kind, authors Nolan Dalla and Peter Alson chart the journey of this enigmatic man who dropped out of high school to become an underground card-playing sensation.

In this first authorized biography, all kinds of details about Unger emerge, from the fact that he was backed by the Mob in New York City to his success in Vegas, where he won the World Series of Poker three times. It also includes intimate conversations and accounts from his life. 

If you’re a fan of the game and interested in finding out more about one of the world’s most well-known poker players, we recommend you pick up this book and learn more. 

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