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By Howard Schwartz

One of the most vital areas in operating any casino is management of table games. Proper procedure, including job responsibilities; accurate accounting; protecting the games; casino and table games credit; understanding how to rate a player and applying proper customer service are all part of a smoothly-run operation. As the industry expands nationally and internationally, a new book titled Table Games Management (217 pages, hardbound, $50) by Vic Taucer and Steve Easley becomes mandatory reading.

No one learns proper procedures overnight—it is an ongoing process, like the cultivation of grapes and their conversion into fine wine. Unfortunately some casino operations try to cut corners and inexperienced management impacts on profit margins and success in the long run.

Table Games Management is an excellent resource for anyone planning to enter the casino industry and for those already in it as a dealer who wants to "graduate" to mid-management positions.

Whose responsibility is it to order more chips when a table game is running short  (the floor supervisor)? Who should check the dice when they return to make sure they have not been changed or altered (the boxperson)? What is the proper definition of "hold percentage" (an age-old question. It is the percentage of chips purchased at the game by the customer and that is won back by the House). What are the factors that affect hold—including service issues  (like service, casino "climate" and lighting) and game issues (like decisions per hour, money management, games rules, dealer experience and offering different odds)?

The book discusses the various Nevada Revised Statutes regarding "asset protection" (avoiding cheaters), with examples of laws which reference card switching; bet switching; bet capping, bet pinching, use of a "cooler" and use of a "computer" among other areas.

Another key chapter discusses casino credit and details why it is an important marketing tool, different ways it is delivered or collected and what a table game department's role is. There are sample forms; an explanation of how markers for credit should work and a look at call bets versus marked bets, along with how to rate a player.

Those who have long asked about customer service tips, including nonverbal interaction, player recognition, service standards and shoppers service will find value here in a chapter devoted just to those key areas. A final section of the book is an excerpt of Nevada Regulation 6A—Cash Transaction Report and Suspicious Activity Report. The 21 pages devoted to that subject may well save a casino or other gambling operation thousands of dollars in fine for being in violation.

Those wondering about job descriptions of table games management will find it in the book along with an indication of how much time that individual will spend on for example, purchasing equipment or signing for fills and markers or analyzing gaming records and recommending revisions to increase efficiency and revenues (while attempting to lower costs).

In summary, you'll know what to expect if you're about to begin a career in the gaming industry and see "the big picture" of all it all operates or appears to operate so smoothly in successful hotels, especially in Las Vegas, with the help of an extremely easy to read, easy to use reference called Table Games Management.

Twenty-four years ago, one of the most important books ever written was published. Titled Doyle Brunson's Super System (A Course in Power Poker) it originally sold for $100, and until late 2002 it was sold at $50 in hardbound. Now comes the paperbound edition (605 pages, $29.95) at the most reasonable price ever. This is not so much a review as an announcement of the new remarkable price, for those who have been waiting for the news. The book is exactly the same as the hardbound edition (except for the cover) and the games are the same—including no-limit hold'em; limit hold'em; seven-stud; lowball; razz (seven card low) and draw poker. Note that in 1978, there was no eight or better qualifier in high low split—in those days the cards "spoke" and procedures for declaring were a bit different. But aside from those changes, the book is still as solid as a rock in the information it imparts and any serious player moving beyond the basics would do well to have this package of material in their possession before going any further.


By Howard Schwartz

Horseplayers can never get enough when it comes to information about their game. This week, two new books for that arrived at GBC should keep them busy for a while. They are Dan Serra's Off Track & Turf Sire Ratings (2003 Edition) (156 pages, 8x11 plastic spiralbound, $50) and Run, Baby Run by Bill Heller (200 pages, hardbound, $29.95). And for a break from the action, Dennis Marlock's revelations in How to Become a Professional Con Artist (135 pages, paperbound, $20) should just about satisfy the hunger for knowledge for a while.

For horseplayers who believe bloodlines and breeding make all the difference in picking winners, Serra's ratings book, which contains numerical ratings for more than 14,000 stallions, is a vital reference source. This 2003 edition looks at which horses do well on turf (The Lawn) or off track.

Serra, one of the most respected names in the business when it comes to sire ratings, lives in Las Vegas. He's put many years of research into his work and he discovered that the trainer is a strong factor when handicapping turf horses. He also emphasizes that after examining the results of thousands of races, the broodmare sire's number is at least every bit as vital as that of the direct sire.

Serra also indicates where off-track ratings are most successful and where they are not as effective. He explains how to evaluate/rate top grass and off-track contenders, emphasizing horses with good turf breeding (those with 200 points or more) and those with 220 point are stronger bets in an off-track situation. The book lists sires in alphabetical order. And for those who want additional input, the author tells you how to contact him by mail or phone.

Those bettors who enjoyed the now out of print Tomlinson ratings books previously produced annually, with find Serra's efforts equal in value.

Bill Heller, an Eclipse-Award winning author, has produced an insightful work in his Run, Baby, Run (What Every Owner, Breeder and Handicapper Should Know About Lasix in Racehorses). In this work, he examines the use of Lasix in 2-year-olds; discusses whether the drug is actually used for other purposes and looks for an answer to the questions of how the drug affects horses. He emphasizes the use of Lasix for the first time is "not always a ticket to the winner's circle." He adds how important it is to examine a trainer's record with first-time Lasix horses, and includes a table showing the numbers and percentages of trainers nationally who used the drug under those circumstances from Jan. 2000 to the end of 2001.

This is a book for bettors, trainers, owners, veterinarians and racing officials.

Fraud expert Dennis Marlock recently retired from the Milwaukee police department. He's been an expert on cons and scams for more than 30 years. His newest book, How to Become a Professional Con Artist. Although this is not designed directly as a "how-to" book, it is clearly written to teach someone how to protect himself or herself from being victimized and how swindlers operate—using Big Cons or Small Cons, or everyday cons like short-changing; lying; marketing scams; using psychology; baiting.

Among the Big Cons discussed are the Pigeon Drop (a package or envelope full of money suddenly found by more than two people in a public place, sometimes a shopping center will do as a location); the Bank Examiner Scheme (usually perpetrated against the trusting elderly by phone or in person); mail order and investment schemes; fortune telling scams. The Small Cons include rigged bar bets and pick pocketing.

One section of the book is devoted to how to identify a potential and it describes why a victim himself often engages in an illegal act (greed is a factor). A final chapter in the book is devoted to why law enforcement agencies are failing to prevent or catch the con artists from operating—often due to bureaucracy; lack of training and financial resources. Good reading, interesting topics, and educational.

(The books mentioned here are available from Gambler's Book Shop, 630 South 11th Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101. Call l-800-522-1777 from 9 to 5 Monday through Saturday Pacific time to order, using only MasterCard, VISA or Discover card (no Amex accepted). You may order through the store web site at and view the store's 1,000 books, videos and computer software. You may also call or write and ask for the free 80-page catalog to be sent to you. The store, founded in 1964, is located about two miles from Downtown Las Vegas, and the same distance from where the Strip begins, a block west of Maryland Parkway, just off Charleston Boulevard.)