June262022

Ray Michael B. writes a column for the bi-weekly Poker Digest magazine expressing his insights into the world of poker and beyond. This book contains an abundance of essays, stories, anecdotes, and commentaries by the author attempting to answer the question, “What is it really like … the world of poker?”

This book is divided into four sections. The first two cover the game of poker as seen through the eyes of Ray Michael B., self described semi-retired neuro-surgeon and poker aficionado. The third section is a brief selection of poker related comic panels by Ron Strombaugh. The forth section covers the author’s interpretations of various historical events through the metaphor of a poker game.

Time to cut to the chase. I don’t know any way to put this delicately. I didn’t like this book. In fact, I didn’t enjoy it in the slightest. The only reason I finished it is because I planned to write this review, and I wouldn’t feel right about reviewing a book I hadn’t read in its entirety. I do not enjoy Mr. B’s writing style, I didn’t learn anything at all about playing poker, and even the comics were totally uninteresting.

I must admit, though, that Ray Michael B. does appear to be very bright and very well read. Furthermore, it’s obvious that he is also a devoted Slot Gacor student of history. In fact, his historical essays were my favorite, or rather least unfavorite, part of the book. Unfortunately, though, his complete lack of anything substantive to say about the game of poker and grating writing style make me unable to say anything kind about this work.

To be fair, there are almost certainly folks out there who like Ray Michael B’s writing style. Seemingly, someone at both Two Plus Two and Poker Digest does. However, this is something I cannot appreciate, nor was it enjoyed by the admittedly limited list of folks with whom I’ve spoken about it. Of course, if one does read and enjoy the author’s columns regularly, by all means, pick up this book, as it is more of the same. But if the reader does not enjoy those columns, or hasn’t read them, I cannot recommend this book. Furthermore, frankly, I’m a little puzzled why Two Plus Two, which normally has impeccable taste in publishing good books on gambling, would add this book to their catalog. If this book describes “the actual real world of poker,” then I guess I’ve been playing some other game for years.

Capsule:

Before buying this book, the prospective reader should go out and read at least two of Ray Michael B’s columns in Poker Digest magazine. If they are enjoyed, by all means pick up a copy of PokerFarce and PokerTruth. If they are not enjoyed, or are unavailable, I wouldn’t spend my time or money on this work.

Review of 101 Casino Gambling Tips

101 Casino Gambling Tips is two books in one. First, as its title suggests, it provides some suggestions intended to improve a player’s gambling experience. Second, it contains casino contact information, a list of toll-free telephone numbers for most of the casinos in the United States and a list of Internet casinos and their URLs.

Most of the tips Marchel lists are good ones, although none of them were new to me. Unfortunately, more than a few of them contain bad advice. For example, the author explains how to make a craps bet for the dealers, which is a fine thing. However, he lists his reason for doing so to “get the dealers and you on the same side against the house.” The implication is that this is will help the player win. Even though many people are likely to believe this helps, I believe it is the responsible gambling author’s duty to try to dispel such myths.

As another example, Marchel advises players to stay away from slot machines with more than three reels and to always play the maximum coins. Today’s slot machines hit various pays according to the results of their random number generators. Just because a five reel machine has more combinations than a three reel machine doesn’t mean that its top pay is more or less likely to hit. Also, I still see slot machines that have a jackpot payout that is exactly proportional to the number of coins in play, in which case the house has the same edge regardless of the number of coins played. In both cases, as is the case in many other tips that I won’t cite here, the information the author provides is misleading at best.

Regarding the casino contact information, it seems pretty thorough, although I’m curious about some discrepancies. Most of the California reservation casinos are listed, but so is the Commerce, the large poker house in Commerce, CA. However, none of the other poker rooms are listed. The Alexis Park and St. Tropez in Las Vegas are listed, despite neither having a casino. Additionally, all the reservation casinos in North Dakota are listed, but so are two (and only two) bars that deal charity blackjack. Perhaps these are the only charity blackjack games that have toll-free numbers associated with them. Among the Internet casinos there are similar discrepancies, for example, Planet Poker is listed, but Paradise Poker isn’t.

The biggest downside with 101 Casino Gambling Tips is not the information in the book, but the niche in which it is competing. Steve Bourie’s excellent American Casino Guide contains what I believe to be much better and more thorough gambling advice and has far more information on casinos. It includes not just the phone number, state, and city, but the number of hotel rooms and approximate prices (if applicable), what games are available, casino floor space, and even more information. Additionally, a new edition of American Casino Guide comes out every year, which makes it more up-to-date, and both books have the same cover price. Therefore, I can’t recommend 101 Casino Gambling Tips because there’s a better book out there that’s more current at the same price.

Capsule:

At the same price, Steve Bourie’s American Casino Guide contains more and better information than 101 Casino Gambling Tips both in terms of gambling advice and in casino listings. Marchel’s tips will be familiar to every well-read gambler, and too many of them contain bad or misleading advice.