I believe that one of the most appealing aspects of casino gambling is the mystery that surrounds it. I also believe that the reason for mysteries is so that one might understand them. In The Casino Answer Book, syndicated columnist John Grochowski tries to answer some of these mysteries, specifically about blackjack, video poker, and roulette.
The book contains about twenty chapters which can be divided into three sections, each of which covers one of the casino games mentioned above. Each chapter is a multiple-choice quiz with 20 or so questions on the specific topic. The reader is invited to test their knowledge of these casino games by taking the quiz and reading the detailed answers as they go along.
The material Grochowski presents on these games is accurate. Occasionally, I find it to stray close to being misleading, for example in the blackjack card counting section or information about betting progressions in roulette. However, even in controversial sections the author’s claims are factually on target and Grochowski is never disingenuous, although the subtitle for the book, “How to Overcome the House Advantage When You Play Blackjack, Video Poker & Roulette” walks awfully close to this line.
At the same time, no really deep mysteries are revealed either. Frankly, the vast majority of the material in this book can be found in the first part of Steve Bourie’s excellent annual series, American Casino Guide, and that which can’t is explained in more detail in many other books, like Dan Paymar’s Video Poker: Optimum Play or Stanford Wong’s Blackjack Secrets. The casino novice, or the casino regular who has had their head in the sand, might come to learn a significant amount from this book, but once one has breached the threshold of being willing to study the literature to understand these games, I would encourage them to go a little further than this relatively shallow treatment of these games.
Of course those casino novices who might have very short attention spans would, indeed, benefit from reading this book. At the same time, little of the theory of these Pkv Games games or over-arching views can be stated in a book of this format, and therefore, I don’t think it would be as beneficial to the reader as one might at first expect. For example, someone who takes the quiz on correct strategy for full-pay Double Bonus video poker can determine whether they understand the strategy correctly or not, but I do not believe that 20 questions on this topic is an adequate substitute for a strategy card. This is especially true for folks who don’t know where to find such a formal strategy, and these people are likely the very target audience of the book.
Even though this reviewer is undoubtedly more familiar with these topics than the target reader, I was a bit chagrined to find that there was no information in The Casino Answer Book that I had not read elsewhere. Because of this reason and because of the superficial treatment I really can’t recommend the book to any audience. The casino information junkie will be bored, and the casino novice would be better served by reading other sources. Of course, the book does, at least, “do no harm” to the reader, and in the gambling book market that’s not faint praise, but ultimately, it’s not enough for me to make a favorable recommendation.
The Casino Answer Book is a fairly trivial treatment of the games of blackjack, video poker, and roulette in quiz format. While the information it contains is factually solid, this format is not the right one for novices to understand some of these games, and it doesn’t have enough depth for the casino veteran. While one will not be harmed by reading through this book, that’s not enough for me to recommend it.