Casino Windsor and the Ontario Smoking Ban . June 2006

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Casino Windsor and the Ontario Smoking Ban By Howard Berenbon and ESFANDIARI'S IN THE MONEY and BASEBALL HACKS By Howard Schwartz--Gambler's Book Shop

Casino Windsor and the Ontario Smoking Ban By Howard Berenbon

Casino Windsor is getting ready for a change.  A new law in Ontario, Canada, beginning May 31st, requires all indoor public places (and some private offices) to be non-smoking.  Yes, just like New York City.  This news is great for me, because I'm a non-smoker but like to gamble, and breathing smoke while gambling is annoying and is reported to be harmful.  Fortunately, MotorCity Casino has their 3rd floor smoke free, but no other casino in the Detroit area, until now, offers a smoke free environment.  However, this isn't happy news for Casino Windsor management, because they're bound to lose a good number of American patrons who are smokers, not to mention losing the locals who smoke.  They estimate they'll be losing approximately $225 million a year because of this smoking ban. That's because many gamblers smoke while playing the games.  Maybe it's to relieve tension, or just because they enjoy smoking with their entertainment.  Either way, many gamblers from the US won't cross the border if they can't smoke at Casino Windsor.

But, the smoking ban in Windsor isn't the only problem that Windsor casino operators face.  In fact, that may be minor compared to what they've been experiencing since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, September 2001.  The increased border security has made it more difficult for Americans to cross into Windsor. That translates into about $150 million annual loss of revenue at Casino Windsor since prior to 911.  Another problem for Casino Windsor is that the Canadian dollar is much stronger, and the exchange rate is less for Americans who would spend their money on gambling.  The US dollar is worth $1.10 Canadian.  It used be $1.35 to $1.45, so now Americans have less of an incentive to spend their money in Windsor and at the casino.  And to make matters worse, Americans will need a valid passport to cross the border starting December 31, 2007.

So, I think the Detroit area casinos will benefit somewhat from this new ban on smoking in Ontario.  And, they should now try to take advantage of their new opportunity to attract more people to Detroit.  Here are a few of my suggestions:

1.  Offer better payoff percentages for slot machines and video poker games. 

2.  Offer discounts on their restaurants and buffets.

3.  And, last but not least, offer more $5 minimum bet blackjack tables.



By Howard Schwartz--Gambler's Book Shop

Antonio Esfandiari, a former professional magician, and the first player under 25 to win a first-place poker prize over $1 million, has a dynamite new title, In the Money: Strategies for Winning Texas Hold 'em Cash Games (181 pages, paperbound, $15.95).

With baseball moving into a higher gear, numbers crunchers, computer aces and Bill James followers should enjoy Baseball Hacks: Tips & Tools for Analyzing and Winning With Statisticsby Joseph Adler (448 pages, paperbound, $24.99).

Since poker is a bit hotter and more popular than sports betting (until football gears up), let's look at Esfandiari's book, which was co-authored by David Apostolico, the man who previously authored Tournament Poker and the Art of War and Machiavellian Poker Strategy

Esfandiari, one of the most colorful, charismatic and classy tournament players of our generation, says Lee Jones' Winning Low Limit Poker help launch his career at age 19, along with a thousand hours of heads-up Texas hold'em. This is a how-to book with some biographical material. You can virtually watch the author move up the ladder to heavier games, finish in the money and win the competition. Some of the advice is simple, but right to the point and logical.

"The best way to make money is to fold ... only play when you have an edge. Cash games are measured over the long term. Every player will have losing sessions and even losing streaks that may last awhile. When you are going through a losing streak, do not let it get to you. Always take time to evaluate your play. If you are making correct decisions, then stay the course." He talks about observation, practice, the importance of position, challenging yourself, proper bankroll and overconfidence.

This is an author who's been there. He moves the reader-player along just right revealing what to expect, finding the right game, finding a level of competition you can handle and what to expect in cash games.  One vital chapter compares no-limit (there's more finesse) to limit games and the adjustment, which must be made, both in money and psychologically.

Another section answers the question of how cash games compare to tournament play. After that, he moves into high gear with preflop strategy and postflop play; playing the turn and the river.

By chapter 10 you'll learn the proper way to play in a shorthanded game, followed by heads-up play, then creating a table image, playing loose, tight, aggressively, playing online and finally how to shuffle your chips like a pro.

Although the book does not illustrate sample or key hands, which would be helpful for those who learn by visualizing what cards players have how opponents react, it's a small flaw in a polished gem of a book. You can just feel the love this player has for the game and understand how much he appreciates those who have helped him become one of the most respected feared competitors on the circuit.

Baseball Hacks by Adler came about when the author to write a book which teaches you how to take advantage of the many free baseball resources on the Internet.  "It's a book about how to watch, research and understand baseball. It's an instruction manual for the free baseball databases. It's a cookbook for baseball research," he says in his preface.

He shows you ..."all the baseball related stuff you can do free of charge (or close to free)." Also, he tell you how to find him, ask questions, suggest updates for the book (I'm sure there'll be a few suggestions by bettors), and the credentials of his co-contributors are impressive! They include Pete Palmer co-author of The Hidden Game of Baseball and Brendon Roberts, senior editor at The Sporting News.

Among the solid seven chapters are Baseball Games from Past Years; Stats from the Current Season ; how to Visualize Baseball Statistics.

For the bettor, Chapter Five, titled Formulas may be pure gold (about 100 pages worth) since its emphasis includes how to measure batting averages; runs batted in; on base percentage; pitching with earned run average; fielding; park effects; calculating save value and decent holds for relief pitchers.

A solid section of another 100 pages spotlights Sabermetric Thinking including finding clutch players; calculating expected number of wins for a team; measuring skill versus luck; the odds of the best team winning the World Series and fitting game scores to a strength model.

A small section titled The Bullpen looks at fantasy leagues and analyzing other sports.

This is a book for the computer whiz/sports fan combination. For those who love new ideas, trigger points for testing a theory, angle, betting proposition, the book may unearth a treasure trove of potential material. I can't guarantee you a winning baseball season as a bettor, but this marvelous time-saving, love-of-the-game-through- numbers compendium should keep mind and fingers busy for countless, enjoyable hours.

Note: 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 by John and Edna Luckman, 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