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By Howard Schwartz--Gambler's Book Shop

There’s a “secret army” out there. They are playing and betting on games others know little about. The games aren’t a secret but the way to take advantage may be—until now. In honor of these players, to boost skills and offer new ideas, three new titles have arrived at Gambler’s Book Shop. They are Cluster Keno II by L.J. Zahm (52 pages, 8x11 plastic spiral bound); The Pro’s Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon by Katarina Walker (187 pages, 8x11 paper bound, $24.99) and the 2008 WNBA Workbook by RME Sports (34 pages, 8x11 plastic spiral bound, $10).

The original Cluster Keno was produced four years ago and revised slightly each year. This edition, however, is much flashier, a bit more expensive (four dollars more), has color photos of the machines and is comprised of about 25 percent more material. In this work, the only one of its kind devoted to video keno, the author explains in more detail how keno machines operate, offers angles and theories about why certain machines pay more than others and provides interviews with players and other knowledgeable individuals. There’s some interesting inside stuff about casinos changing computer boards and payoffs and why it’s done. This is a well-written, enjoyable roadmap to the game and offers advice to beginners and seasoned players and includes pay tables, payoff stories and inside stuff on video keno machine variations.

Until now, little has been written on the game of Spanish 21 except in pamphlets or as chapters in works that cover multiple games. Author Walker’s book is recommended by some of the top 21 players in the business, including Stanford Wong, Rick Blaine, Don Schlesinger and Mike Shackleford. There are 10 major sections to this chunky work plus three appendices (from page 149 on) which offer valuable index charts, advantage, variance and covariance tables and true count frequency distributions. (The content illustrates that a lot of work went into this item.) There’s a short section on the game’s history. That’s followed by the rules and basic strategy and a strategy chart analysis. The book picks up speed with a major section on card counting, followed by playing with the count and index chart analysis.  The author, anticipating questions in areas like team play; progression betting; camouflage; dealer errors, covers these topics well, and she includes a section she calls “urban myths.” This covers topics such as following winning streaks; third base controlling the game; blackjacks come in threes; surrender is for chickens. Packed with charts and tables, this pioneering advanced “Bible” of the game is a must-read for anything planning to play or already playing the game.

Women’s pro basketball, also known as the WNBA, is, for some, a lucrative betting proposition simply because fewer people know the game and bet it. The house, the bet-takers, are sometimes off-balance in their line making, which is a very good reason why a few players reap rewards from this sport. The 2008 WNBA Workbook is just that—a publication with room to keep records (the season begins in mid-May and ends in mid-September) and that offers some help on which teams did what last season at home, away, after winning on the road, after failing to cover and so on. There are eight or so trends you might finding interesting, like how teams performed certain days or in a certain month or as a road favorite. Rosters are included listing the player’s college and number of years experience in the pros and a summary of how teams performed straight up or against the spread each season since 2003. Granted, you’ll need more information to keep up with injuries, momentum and the like, but for the price, this book is a pretty good start.

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.