Reading about blackjack is an excellent idea. The person who gets all her information about how to play 21 on the Internet is relying on unreliable information. Many of the sites offering this information are in it purely for a buck, but real authors usually have editorial oversight.
Some blackjack books are better than others, though. Here’s a list of some worth reading:
Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty-One
Edward Thorp is the father of modern card counting. He became interested in beating the game as a mathematical exercise more than as a means of making money. His book was first published in 1966, but it still explains the fundamentals of how to play and how counting cards works as well as most newer works. Some of the newer writings on card counting offer better counting systems, but for an introduction to how and why the game is beatable, Beat the Dealer is…well, it’s hard to beat.
Blackbelt in Blackjack: Playing 21 as a Martial Art
Arnold Snyder has written several books about 21, but this one is my favorite. He includes details of several different counting methods, including the red seven count, the hi lo system, and the zen count. He also explains what shuffle tracking is and how it works. He provides advice about team play. Blackbelt in Blackjack is an indispensible part of any gambling library.
Snyder has also written a book about poker tournaments called The Poker Tournament Formula, which is excellent. As an “outsider” to the poker community, his ideas about how to win at tournaments are refreshing. They’re different from the usual advice. He also wrote The Big Book of Blackjack, which is also impressive. His official site has great information, too.
Play Blackjack Like the Pros
Kevin Blackwood provides one of the most readable introductions to advantage play ever. The simple, plain language that he uses makes Play Blackjack Like the Pros a pleasure to read. He includes an excellent section about tournament strategy, and the anecdotes included are entertaining and interesting.
If you enjoy Blackwood’s writing, you might also take a look at his novel, The Counter, as well as the “Dummies” volume, Casino Gambling for Dummies. His official site can be found here.
Sklansky Talks Blackjack
David Sklansky is best known for his book The Theory of Poker, and most gamblers don’t think of him as a card counting expert. But according to his introduction to Sklansky Talks Blackjack, only about 50 people in the world play 21 better than he does. I’m not sure how he came up with that number, but I admire his confidence. His approach to explaining basic strategy is the best I’ve seen–he discusses how to play each hand in order of totals, and he understands that memorizing a basic strategy chart is a lot harder than just learning how to play each total.
If you like his approach to this game, you should certainly read what he’s written about poker and other gambling games. I especially enjoyed How to Make $100,000 a Year Gambling for a Living. His official site is a blog at the Two Plus Two publisher site.
The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book
Lance Humble’s guide was the first I ever read–it was recommended by an attorney I knew who also liked to count cards. Some of the information about avoiding cheating casinos seems dated, and some of the anecdotes he relates about other players and counters seem questionable. They’re entertaining enough, though. The language is dated–it reminds me of reading something like one of Norman Vincent Peale’s or Dale Carnegie’s books. This isn’t bad, but people who are used to a more modern, crisper prose style might be disappointed.