southtownstar
SPARKLE 
Weather Updates

Book informative and entertaining

John Grochowski

John Grochowski

storyidforme: 41287942
tmspicid: 9713345
fileheaderid: 4461904

CASINO NOTE

Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., has opened Sixth Street, a craft beer bar featuring 24 or more selections on tap and 16 in bottles. Beers include local brews from Illinois and Indiana as well as international favorites. Sixth Street is a play on “fifth street,” the fifth card in a stud poker game. Visit horse
shoehammond.com.

Updated: January 15, 2013 6:05AM



Over the years, I’ve read and reviewed many a blackjack book. Rarely have I recommended one simply because it’s so much fun to read.

I’m doing it now with Glen Wiggy’s “1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors” ($18.95, iUniverse), which ranks high on my list of Christmas gift suggestions for gamblers. Subtitled “Finding Profit and Humor in Card-Counting,” Wiggy’s work includes how to play, blackjack terminology, basic strategy and an explanation of how to count cards. The card-counting section includes some graphics that will be helpful to beginners, depicting full tables of cards along with the plus-1, minus-one and zero designations for keeping a running count.

If that was the main thrust of the book, you wouldn’t be reading about it now. There are many more detailed card-counting primers on the market. But while the route toward gaining an edge on the house is important to “1536 Free Waters,” the heart and soul are the stories of Wiggy’s more than 800 casino visits from 2001-2008.

I chuckled when Wiggy told of handing his dad a stack of $25 chips, telling him it was a small down payment on all he’d learned from him. It felt all warm and fuzzy — until his dad misplayed a hand.

An all-too familiar feeling came over me when a couple asked him for advice — then refused to believe what they were hearing. And yes, there are 1,536 free bottles of water mixed in with the tales of angry pit bosses, difficult customers and the odd seagull.

There are lessons embedded in many of the tales, making this a laugh-while-you-learn experience.

♦ ♦ ♦

Speaking of gambling books that are fun to read, “Casino Conquest” ($16.95, Triumph Books) is the latest Frank Scoblete book. Scoblete has a knack for combining stories with explanations to make his points, and his books always inform and entertain. Most of Scoblete’s books deal with one game at a time. This is a multigame book, with an explanation of the Speed Count at blackjack — an easy system I recommend to beginning counters — the Five Count at craps, and advice at baccarat, roulette, Spanish 21 and the slot machines.

There’s even a horse-racing presence, though no real tips. Without giving too much away, let’s just say a knack for betting on horses that don’t finish the race is no sound basis for an optimal strategy.

John Grochowski is a local free-lance writer. Look for him on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.