Every so often, I like to read something that is off of the beaten path for me. I have to admit that just the title of this book "Basic Gambling Mathematics: The Numbers Behind The Neon" intrigued me. I'm an engineer by education and trade, so I've always been attracted to all things mathematical. And while I've only been to places where I was able to legally gamble a handful of times, I've found the strategies on how to bid/bet for various games to be interesting. So, I was happy to be given the opportunity to read and review this book, if for no other reason than to be able to get a look under the hood, so to speak, on how the various games of chance (as well as racing bets) worked and how to determine the true odds of winning.
The book can be viewed either as an introduction to probability and statistics, perhaps as a college textbook, or something interesting for the layman to read. First off, be aware that there is math at the beginning of the book, math in the middle, and math at the end. The good news is that you've had most of it in high school, and the little that you didn't, the author explains in easy to follow language. The first couple of chapters introduce you to the mathematical definitions and concepts that you'll be seeing, while the rest of the book breaks down odds the various games of chance and discusses strategies on how to maximize your return. Note that this means, with the possible exception of some pay table variations for video poker, you will not win money in the long run, you'll just lose it more slowly. :-)
He shows, via mathematical proofs, that the best possible strategies are often counter-intuitive. Using the just mentioned video poker as an example, oftentimes the best strategy is to turn down a sure payout in hopes of getting a much larger payout. With a five coin-bet, the payout for a flush may be 40 to 1, while the payout for a royal flush may be 4700 to one. If you have, say, the 4, 10, Jack, Queen, and King of hearts, the best strategy is to discard the 4, and hope to draw an Ace of hearts. Although the chances of drawing that Ace is only 1 in 47, because of the much high payout for the Royal Flush, you'll make about triple the money you'd get vice standing pat with the flush, over the long run.
You don't have to delve deeply into the mathematical equations if you don't want to, as you can just allow that the author's results are correct and follow along with the results. If you do want to do the math, he has problems and exercises (and like most textbooks, includes half of the answers) within the book. While there are books out there that go into greater detail on various betting strategies for individual games, this is an outstanding effort that not only gives you the best strategies for a large number of games, and mathematically shows you while they're valid. Five stars.