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By Howard Schwartz--Gambler's Book Shop

Those who have a need for a good book on pot-limit Omaha poker will be finding gold in Jeff Hwang’s fresh work, Pot-Limit Omaha: The Big Play (332 pages, paperbound $14.95).  Meanwhile those who wonder what that old deck of playing cards found in the attic or in an old cigar box is worth should enjoy Mark Pickvet’s Collecting Playing Cards—Identification and Value Guide (239 pages, paperbound, $24.95).

Hwang, an investment analyst who writes about the gaming industry for the Motley Fool, is a semi-pro player who loves to play “action game” Omaha and has written this work to fill the information gap for smaller stakes pot-limit Omaha (PLO). His goal is to teach the reader how to “play only the hands capable of winning the big pots.”

Why are some hands playable and others “virtual trash?” Hwang answers that by showing players what he believes to be “the deepest look at starting hand construction.”

Two respected poker authors, Lou Krieger and Bob Ciaffone laud the book, which should be enough for all Omaha and Omaha split players to make sure they have a copy in their possession as soon as possible. For what you don’t know and what your opponents do know is good enough reason to grab a copy now.

The book’s nine chapters (plus an excellent index of subjects and concepts) discuss Objectives including dominating draws and the nut flush free roll; Basic Play and Key Concepts including reading the board, pot odds vs. implied odds; Straight Draws; Starting Hands and Pre-Flop Plays including starting hands; hand-strength classification; After the Flop including playing on the draw and playing on the river.

Other chapters focus on bankroll suggestions, the straddle effect, stack sizes, Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split, including starting hands and groups, blind stealing and short-handed play, loose vs. tight vs. wild games, Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split, including starting hands for early, middle and later positions.

The book includes many charts and tables and quizzes to test your memory and refers to other books which inspired the author or improved his game.

For the price this is one of the most remarkable, valuable resources any Omaha will ever find.

On a lighter side, one of the most beautifully-illustrated guides ever to a gambling collectible—in this case, playing cards--is Pickvet’s Collecting Playing Cards Identification and Value Guide.

With a 37-page listing of antique and collectible playing cards, their price guide values from Mint-In-Box to Good; a wonderful, colorful history and evolution of playing cards from centuries ago to modern times—this book easily justifies being in the hands of those who enjoy knowing more about what’s valuable, what’s not and the joy of looking for the rare ones.

Should you be in possession of “Harlequin, tiffany transformation, Carryl, red backs” of 1879, they’re worth $3,500!

Those issued by Johnson Outboard Motors in 1951 might fetch $30 to $50, with New York World’s Fair (1939) decks in the $75 to $125 range.

Those issued by beer companies; cigarette companies, airlines; cities; candy companies; colleges; card clubs; casinos; railroads; drug stores; steamships; even Disney Land are included.

Playing cards have not yet achieved the popularity and overall value of gambling chips, but who knows what the future holds? It’s fun, it could be profitable—at least you’d have a general idea of what to ask for them on e-Bay if you’re selling.

Any item reviewed here is available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club). The store's web site is www.gamblersbook.com. 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.