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By Howard Schwartz--Gambler's Book Shop

Spring training has begun and serious baseball handicappers are doing preparing by evaluating trades; scheduling; new faces and improvements by teams. They are also looking for a way to keep accurate records; watch winning and losing streaks develop and finding the right price by which to wager. The 2008 Baseball Schedule & Record Keeper (180 pages, 11x8 plastic spiralbound, $29.95) can make all the difference in preparing and updating data.

This book contains the full schedule of each team along with whether they’re playing at home or away and starting time based on the Eastern Time Zone. There’s room to list both starting pitchers; the money line on the game; the total for the game; final score for each team; whether a team won or lost; who the home plate umpire was; how much you wagered; whether you won or lost and a space for miscellaneous notes.

Michael Murray’s 2008 edition of Betting Baseball (215 pages, paperbound, $24.95) tops the list because the season is under way. In more than two dozen vital chapters, Murray discusses when to bet games; betting on streaks; the run line; the money line; betting totals; inter-league play; measuring offense and the home field advantage just for starters. He offers valuable advice on measuring bullpen effectiveness; how the line is created; the effects of ballpark design on the amount of scoring for both teams; examines ballpark layouts and then puts the spotlight on the impact of umpires—their quirks or prejudices you might say (including what he calls “homer umpires”) and how they affect the number of runs scored.

Many of Murray’s “study areas” are secrets some of the best baseball handicappers have kept under their hats for many years. He’s a mixture of physics, Bill James’ statistics; careful, “observational study” and record-keeping skills. For players waiting for that all important “spot” situations when a certain group of factors and the money line or total are bet, Murray’s book is a super reference source, packed with angles, ideas and valuable statistics.

For many poker players who don’t want or need marathon sessions which last longer than they expect, the book How to Beat Sit-&-Go Tournaments by Neil Timothy (176 pages, paperbound, $14.95) may be just the perfect guide. This work, containing 25 sections, explains what the sit-and-go is; discusses hold’em basics; explains the importance of position; covers early stage hand selection, short-handed play, the bubble, in the money, heads-up play, types of players and playing from the blinds.

The chapter on plays includes playing when the flop is paired; check-raising; button steal; slow playing; semi-bluffing; limping and taking the lead. There’s a small section on online tells; common sit-and-go mistakes (like not letting go of Kings when an ace comes on the flop) and calling all-in with A-K in the early stages of a tournament.

The book also discusses bankroll requirements; record keeping; outs and poker odds.

Well-priced the book is designed for the lower limit no-limit hold’em sit-and-gos where buy-ins are less than $50 online or $200 in live games. The author says “players found in these limits are weak, resulting in a lot of dead money up for grabs.” He adds that strategies “in this book work for the early and middle stages of one-table satellites, which are essentially the same structure (except that there is only one winner as opposed to three.”

Any item reviewed here is available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club). The store's web site is You may order there using MasterCard, VISA or Discover (no CODs please) or by phoning the store any day except Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time at 1-800-522-1777. Orders usually shipped the next working day. You may view the store's complete array of books, videos and software via the Web site or request a hard copy of the catalog be mailed free and first class. The store has moved to a new location: 1550 E. Tropicana #4, Las Vegas NV 89119.