The Bookstore of Anthony Curtis' Las Vegas Advisor

Anthony Curtis Recommends

WSOP Guide Excerpt 3 is Up

The third part of our serialized Guide to the World Series of Poker is up at In this edition, Blair gets into the meat of playing in a live poker tournament, covering the important rules and procedures of the WSOP. Rules address “oversized chips,” “untabled hands,” “acting out of turn,” “calling for a clock,” and, of course, the dreaded “string bet.” Tournament procedures include “balancing” and “breaking tables,” “chipping up,” the “bubble,” and the steps you have to follow to avoid disqualification at the end of the day’s play in tournaments played over multiple days.

It’s more good stuff straight out of Blair’s book in the works, Don’t Be a Donk. Meanwhile, Blair continues to build his playing resume, recently finishing 7th out of 885 players in Pot-Limit Omaha. Part IV will go up next Monday.

WSOP Guide Excerpt 2 is Up

The second part of our serialized Guide to the World Series of Poker is up at Whereas Part 1 was predominantly history-related, this installment begins delving into the practicalities of playing in the event. Part 2 covers travel and accommodations, the poker facilities, event structures, and the registration process. It's a little dry, but these are the things you need to know about if you plan on ever playing in this event.

For a more in-depth explanation about the Guide, read my earlier blog entry. Part 3 will go up next Monday.

LVAPoker Debuts With Poker-Book Excerpts

Last February, Blair Rodman and I were playing at the same table in a poker tourney connected with the International Rugby 7s tournament that was held in Las Vegas. Blair needed change and threw me a chip, which I picked up and put on top of my stack.

“What are you doing”? Blair barked. “I need change. You ever play in a tournament before?”

I didn’t feel too badly, since I’d scooped the previous pot and assumed I’d simply missed a chip. But it got me thinking about all the little nuances involved in playing poker that new players have to learn the hard way.

I brought it up to Blair later and we started firing ideas back and forth. Before long, we’d agreed that there absolutely needed to be a book about how to get involved in poker on all levels and that Blair would write it. Tentatively titled Don’t Be a Donk, the book should be out by the beginning of next year. But that’s not the reason for this entry.

I’m writing to tell you how you can get a preview of the book now. Because the World Series of Poker is such a big part of poker itself, more than 100 pages of Donk are devoted to the WSOP. And to coincide with the tournament, as well as to help kick off our new website,, we’re releasing that section of the book in stages this month.

The first section is already up. It describes the history of the World Series, including several episodes that Blair (and in many cases, I also) experienced personally. It’s a great read and it’s free.

We’ll be putting up a sign-up button where you can register to win a free book and get a big discount offer when Don’t Be a Donk is ready. But for now, you can learn everything there is to know about playing in the WSOP simply by going to and checking it out.

The first section is already up. It describes the history of the World Series, including several episodes that Blair (and in many cases, I also) experienced personally. It’s a great read and it’s free.

We’ll be putting up a sign-up button where you can register to win a free book and get a big discount offer when Don’t Be a Donk is ready. But for now, you can learn everything there is to know about playing in the WSOP simply by going to and checking it out.

Abowitz Digs Zender?

If you don't know him, Richard Abowitz is one of Las Vegas' most respected local writers. He's tied into the Vegas scene in a number of interesting ways, and as a result, he has the ear of many in the national media. So when Richard picked his list of six "significant books about Las Vegas" in a recent issue of the new Vegas Seven magazine, I took notice.

Ah, let's see—books from Random House, Knopf, a couple of other New York publishers, and whoa!, one from Huntington Press. Was it Beneath the Neon? Whale Hunt in the Desert? Telling Lies and Getting Paid? After all, these are among the more literary books that we've published. Nope. It was one of our math-based games-oriented books—Casino-ology.

"An essential glimpse behind the cash cage at the heart of the Strip," is how Richard described it, and my hat's off to him for seeing it that way. Yes, author Bill Zender packed Casino-ology with the numbers and insight that hard-core gamblers, as well as the casinos themselves, crave (and need), but he also provided a laser-like look at what makes and drives this city—the incredible money machine that is gambling itself.

Casino-ology is a $40 book, but we're unloading some inventory with a short-term sale ($14.95, and $9.95 for the e-book) that you can take advantage of until end of business March 12. And look for our publication of Casino-ology 2, expected later this year.

By the way, here's the complete Abowitz list:

Why Bargain City?

We just sent out an email blast offering my 1993 book, Bargain City -- Booking, Betting, and Beating the new Las Vegas.It's just $3 (and I'm autographing each with my "Coupons rule!" battle cry), but is a 1993 guidebook worth even that? For a collector, maybe -- Bargain City was in print for only about two years and it was written LVA-style, so it was certainly a different breed of guide to the city.

We sold nearly 15,000 copies and it had a big future as an annual, but I just didn't have the time to keep it up as I worked on other things. But let's leave the collector consideration out of it. Is there enough information in the book to justify three beans? Honestly, I think there is. While part of the book was up-to-date (back then) guide, an equal part was strategy -- both in how to track down deals and how to play the gambling games. To help you decide, I'm providing a list of what in Bargain City remains pertinent.

The chapter on video poker contains little of the excellent information that has surfaced since then, but it does have some interesting elements that remain valuable, including what I still think is one of the most succinct explanations of how to read pay schedules. There's also good basic information on how to reduce risk and how to determine the expected value of progressives, including the only "Video Poker Speed Chart" that I've ever seen created.

The chapter on blackjack contains an "Abbreviated Basic Strategy" that I developed with the help of the late blackjack-theory guru, Peter Griffin. It's just six rules that will hold you in good stead wherever you play. There's also a complete basic strategy chart for single- and multiple-deck play that's as easy to understand and works as well as anything you'll find in any other book.

The chapter on tournaments is strong, zeroing in on how to determine which tournaments are fundamentally better to play, based on the "equity" they provide. I was deep into the tournament scene when I wrote this and it's solid.

Similar to video poker, the chapter on sports betting provides strong beginner information on how to read the sports book lines and make a bet.

Other things of value include an interesting timeline that runs from the opening of the Mirage up to the "Great Race," when Treasure Island, Luxor, and MGM Grand were built concurrently; a discussion of the famous "VIP Vacation" that got Bob Stupak into trouble, but also made him a lot of money; and, of course, lots of information and first-person stories about coupons and coupon runs.

I'm not saying this is a must-have book for gamblers, but I'm confident it will help beginners, and you might get a kick out of some of the other information it holds. Check it out!

How to Win at Video Poker

We’ve just put together a bundled package of Bob Dancer video poker products that saves you about $35 compared to buying each product individually. We came up with the idea for this bundle based on my advice to countless video poker players who ask, "What do I need to do to be a winning player?" To get to that level in any game, you need to master a lot of skills. But there’s always a shortcut to getting most of the way there. That shortcut is this package.

Most important is the software. There’s no better way to learn video poker strategy than from a computer program and Video Poker for Winners is among the best. The software allows you to practice on any pay schedule and learn as you go. It’s just like playing in the casino, only you’re alerted when you make a strategy mistake. But tutoring is just the tip of the iceberg; this program does much much more. How do you get the most out it? By reading the book.

Dancer wrote Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner primarily as a companion to the software. Hence, the book shows you how to best use the computer program to improve real results. But VPIB also provides all kinds of important information about expert-level video poker play, including choosing the highest-paying games and understanding what type of bankroll you need to play at various levels.

Finally, the strategy cards are simply one of the best video poker aids ever developed. After you’ve practiced on the software, you’ll understand where the touchy decisions are when you play. But you won’t have to commit those key strategy maneuvers to memory if you have the strategy cards.

This really is it, folks. This package, if you use it, will take you at least 90% of the way to the expert level and that’s easily enough to win with.

Beneath the Neon

Gambling for a living was fun. Publishing is fun, too. Last week a friend who’s now living out of the country came to town. We got together and over a beer he says, “I don’t know if this is true, but my dad saw something on TV about people living underneath Las Vegas.”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Really? That’s wild. Supposedly there’s a whole book about it.”

“I know,” I said. “I published it.”

Two days later a Las Vegas native who now lives in Austin, TX tells me, “In the 40 years I lived there I never knew about this, but I read that people live in the sewer drains under Vegas.”

“I know …”

How cool is this? My friends are seeing stories about our book Beneath the Neon-Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas, and they're TELLING ME ABOUT IT.

I assume millions of people now know about the tunnels, thanks to a single article in the Sun (the biggest tabloid in the U.K.). The story ran and it was Katie-bar-the-door from there, as one after another, news outlets contacted us wanting to speak to (author) Matt O’Brien. Here’s just a partial list: ABC News, CNN, CNN International, “Nightline”, the New York Times, BBC Radio, ZDF (Germany’s public TV station), RTL (another German TV channel), Der Spiegel (Germany’s biggest magazine), The Sun and The Independent (UK newspapers, the former having the largest circulation in the nation), MBC (one of the major broadcasting companies in South Korea), Korean Broadcasting System (another big station in South Korea), and Al Jazeera (Arab news network). One of the reasons we took this book on in the first place was the potential for this type of hype and this time it came through.

For readers who are interested, the book is more than just an expose about the tunnel dwellers. Matt begins with the eerie story of T.J. Webber, who after murdering his girlfriend and her son, took to the sewers to elude capture. He walked several miles, in pitch blackness, through the storm-drain tunnels from downtown to an opening near Palace Station. In all he spent five hours in the tunnels, emerged three miles outside of the police perimeter, and remained at large for three weeks.

There’s also a history of other tunnel cultures, with stories about the Ukrainian Jews who escaped the Nazis in gypsum caves; the quarries and “inspection galleries” under Paris; a slave trade that thrived in underground chambers along the waterfront in Portland, Oregon; and the 400 underground settlements and 3,000 churches in Cappadocia, Turkey, inhabited by Christians hiding from Romans and Muslims.

We’re selling Beneath the Neon-Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas for our standard 25% discount ($14.96). Some of the resellers have been recently out of stock, since the publicity wave ran us out of inventory. But the third printing is now back. We’re shipping to Amazon and other stores and we’re filling our direct orders this week.

Welcome to the new ShopLVA

After many years of keeping our store together with rubber bands and super glue, we’ve finally been able to institute this move to a new shopping environment. There are many features here now that weren’t here before–such as the blog you’re reading now. That’s right, this is a product blog. For many years we discussed the possibility of creating a “magalog,” which would combine a product catalog with magazine-style articles and explanations. I think this may fit the bill.

I’ll blog in this spot about products new and old, and try to provide insight into the best features of the products discussed and how they can help you. And it’s a blog, so maybe there’ll be some off-topic surprises now and then. Who knows? If this works, I might even start Tweeting!