Hold’em and Las Vegas: Two Picks for Profit and Pleasure . December 2011 . Vol 12 . No. 12

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Hold’em and Las Vegas: Two Picks for Profit and Pleasure

By T. Dana Smith (for Howard Schwartz) - Gambler's Book Shop Las Vegas

Poker and Las Vegas go hand in hand, so to speak. Two books hot off the shelf explore how to play hold’em for profit and how the Vegas of yesteryear built the pleasures of Vegas today. 

Dominate No-Limit Hold’em by Daniel Ashman, (261 pgs, $24.95) is the latest release in D&B Publishing’s poker series. Subtitled “A Guide to the Math and Psychology of NLHE,” the book stresses being able to read your opponents’ hands in no-limit hold’em cash games with blinds ranging from $.50/$1 in small online games to $50/$100 in b-i-g heads-up games (those added zeroes make a huge difference!) with 112 hands that illustrate the thinking process you must use to put the villain on a hand.

“My goal,” says moneymaking high-stakes player Ashman in the introduction to his lucid and logical, well-written instructional tome, “is to share with you the ideas necessary to make you into Phil Hellmuth’s metaphorical lion”—and we all know that lions are the kings of the green felt jungle. The author devotes the first 100 pages to basic poker strategy emphasizing the math, followed by two shorter chapters titled “Poker Mindset” and “Hand Reading.” Questions at the end of each chapter pose brainteasers to test your grasp of the instruction, mercifully followed by answers. Then comes the major thrust of the book in the final chapter, titled “Game Sessions.”

The author invites you to sit alongside him as he details the blow-by-blow action in five distinctly different online no-limit hold’em sessions he played, starting with a $1/$2 six-handed game. Session 4, a $25/$50 heads-up game with a $5,000 buy-in that he played against a maniac, is high drama on the open seas of a stormy poker game. Using Ashman’s sound mathematical principles and insightful concepts, you should be able to successfully navigate your poker ship to shore, whether you’re playing in a rowboat-sized game or at the yacht table.   

Poker rooms here in Las Vegas where I play poker with the rowboaters are experiencing an uptick in their action since the online poker debacle—which leads me into telling you about a new book on Vegas history, Las Vegas Legends (308 pgs, $17.95), subtitled “What Happened in Vegas” (clever, huh). Author Greg Niemann, who also penned Palm Spring Legends and Big Brown, has been kicking around Vegas on road trips for the past 60 years. A member of Friends of Classic Las Vegas, he has experienced Sin City from its gory days to its glory days, its mob roots to its mod club scene, meeting Vegas villains and hometown heroes over the years.

In fast-reading thumbnails, Niemann traces the history of Las Vegas from its genesis around the turn of the century to 2011. The book’s short ‘n sweet vignettes make it a way cool choice to read during a flight or read out loud to entertain the driver on your next road trip. Vintage photos dot the sagas included in the dozen chapters: among others, attorney Oscar Goodman with client Tony (The Ant) Spilotro in the chapter titled “Tentacles of the Mob;” Fremont Street in the 1940’s; and the jumbo rig with 24 drills that workers could use simultaneously to carve Hoover Dam.

The aspects I most appreciated in this succinct account of what happened in Vegas are perhaps its economy of words (no Faulkner-type intricately woven paragraphs here!) and the homage it pays to the little guys as well as the shakers and movers. Did you know that Tomiyasu Street, which borders Wayne Newton’s estate on the east, was named after a Japanese farmer whose produce was integral to feeding the mass of construction workers on Hoover dam? Or that a dentist named James McMillan got the ball rolling on integrating the Vegas workforce when he stood up to the then mob-run Strip casinos? And that there’s a “lost city” near Sin City? No, not gamblers who’ve lost bucks at the tables—Anasazi Indian bucks whose entire city got lost around 1000 A.D.

You get the drift—Niemann’s book is a quick and entertaining read that lets you in on some inside skinny but doesn’t bog you down with the nonessential. Like Sgt. Friday used to say, “Just the facts, Ma’am.”     

These books are available at Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas. You can order them at www.gamblersbookclub.com or phone the store at 1-800-522-1777 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time. Opened in 1964, GBC is located at 5473 S. Eastern between Tropicana and Russell, just a short drive from the Strip. View the store's complete line of books, CDs, videos and software at the web site.