5 Gambling Authors Who Don’t Deserve a Spot on Your Bookshelf

Bookshelf with Books About Gambling

I’ve already had the pleasure of reviewing six gambling authors who should be added to your library (link), so the time has come to run through five more who aren’t so deserving.

Diverging wildly from many other endeavors, success in the world of casino gambling can often be quite subjective. Within the skill game sector, strategy and style can vary wildly between winning players. And of course, games of chance are beholden to luck alone over the short term, so anybody with a few fruitful sessions under their belt can claim to hold the secrets to success.

For these reasons, unscrupulous authors can easily pass off erroneous information as expertise. Whether they’re intentionally deceiving readers, or simply don’t know any better, these writers specialize in dressing up myths, misconceptions, and mistakes as can’t-miss advice on gambling.

The problem for readers is easy to see.

Everybody who enters a casino wants to walk away a winner, but the cold calculus of probability and randomization ensures most of us will lose over the long run. Recreational players who are desperate to turn their luck around will invariably turn to more experienced, proficient pros for guidance.

Many gambling writers, including the six I reviewed earlier, do their very best to analyze casino games using an honest and straightforward approach. But inevitably, a few bad apples out there decide to prey on unsuspecting readers by promising “surefire” systems and strategies that are “guaranteed” to produce profits. These gambling authors aren’t interested in ethics or morality, they’re just trying to squeeze suckers out of a few bucks.

Below you’ll find five gambling writers I’ve identified as schemers and scammers, or at the very least, uninformed purveyors of useless advice. Along with a brief biography of the author, and a rundown of reasons to remove their work from your bookshelf, I’ll also include a quote that exemplifies their flawed approach to gambling strategy.

1. Frank Scoblete

For a man who pretends to be a gambling expert, it’s only fitting that Frank Scoblete got his start as a stage actor.

In fact, his interest in casino games began back in 1985, when Scoblete sojourned to Atlantic City in preparation for a role in the gambling-themed play “The Only Game in Town.” As Scoblete tells the tale, he immediately became smitten with the table game pit, leaving his acting career behind and plunging headlong into the life of a professional advantage play gambler.

Working alongside his wife Alene Paone, herself a fellow gambler, Scoblete spent the next five years or so trying to overcome the house edge and eke out a living. But by 1991, with that edge proving to be insurmountable for a player of Scoblete’s skill level, the pair decided to launch a mail order publishing house known as Paone Press.

In 1991, the first book published through Paone Press Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos was released, giving rise to the signature Scoblete style. In the book, and most of his other work, Scoblete creates fictional characters such as “The Captain” through which to present his own advice on craps strategy. According to the author, this Captain fellow is a legendary gambler who just happened to take Scoblete under his wing, showing him the fabled “Super System” approach to beating craps.

Never mind that the Super System is a phrase pioneered by poker icon Doyle Brunson in his 1978 book of the same name. And don’t bother asking why Scoblete spends his days shilling $20 books through a mail order service, when he has easy access to the greatest craps player to ever live.

In over two decades since, Scoblete has gone on to pen dozens of books on gambling strategy covering every game on the floor, but they all have one thing in common: misinformation.

Scoblete has devoted thousands and thousands of pages to “teaching” readers about nonsense strategies and systems.

He advises craps players to use the Five Count Method as a way of spotting “hot shooters,” knowing full well that short-term streaks have no bearing on the game’s inherent odds and probabilities.

Scoblete also advises blackjack fans to stand back and watch the game while counting, before entering the game when the odds are in their favor. Of course, this technique known as “Wonging” was originated back in the 1970s by legitimate blackjack expert Stanford Wong. And it proved to be so successful that casinos eventually instituted the “no mid shoe entry” rule that is prevalent throughout casinos worldwide today.

While I suspect Scoblete knows full well that Wonging doesn’t work in the modern age, and that trends, patterns, and streaks are not the basis of any sound strategy, I’ll admit he does have a knack for promotional hype. By framing his device through a series of character archetypes, while maintaining a casual conversational tone, Scoblete has a way of appealing to readers who just don’t know any better.

You may even have a few Scoblete books tucked away on your bookshelf, and if that’s the case, I can’t blame you one bit; his act has worked wonders. Scoblete has seen his work published as a syndicated newspaper column, and even presented on the Travel Channel.

But prominence and prolific output aside, Scoblete is the standard bearer for self-proclaimed gambling experts who don’t bother dealing with facts.

Key Quote:

This version is also called ‘Rocco’s Roulette’ in honor of my Uncle Rocco, who has done quite nicely with it on his monthly bus trips to Atlantic City.

This system can only be played in casinos that have scoreboards. You are still going to look for five straight hits of either red or black before betting the opposite.

However, instead of staying at one table, you are going to move around and look at the scoreboards. In some casinos, you will have many more betting opportunities because there are many more scoreboards.”


  • Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos (1991)
  • Break the One Armed Bandits (1994)
  • Spin Roulette Gold (1997)
  • Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution! (2005)
  • I Am a Dice Controller (2015)

2. Mike Caro

When old “Texas Dolly” published his Super / System: A Course in Power Poker back in 1978, Brunson was actually listed as the co-author alongside his friend Mike Caro.

In the book, Brunson dubs Caro as “Crazy Mike,” due to the latter’s unpredictable and aggressive approach to poker. That nickname eventually morphed into the “Mad Genius of Poker,” a moniker Caro carries to this day.

While he’s certainly a bit mad, Caro is no genius, and truth be told, he doesn’t even play poker anymore. According to the Hendon Mob database, Caro recorded his last live tournament cash in 2009.

I’ll admit that “Caro’s Book of Poker Tells” had its place in 1984. At that time, tournaments and cash games alike were niche segments within the gambling world. Most casinos of the era didn’t even offer dedicated poker rooms, and the biggest games were “underground” affairs frequented by legendary Texas Road Gamblers like Brunson, “Sailor” Roberts, “Puggy” Pearson, and “Amarillo” Slim.

In the 80s, an up and coming poker player surely stood to benefit from Caro’s work, which combined mathematical analysis with the study of physical “tells.” For Caro, learning poker basics like hand rankings and pot odds formed the foundation of a solid strategy, but spotting an opponent’s tells separated the best from the rest.

Perhaps the player facing your big bet involuntarily swallows or takes a gulp. Maybe their breathing becomes irregularly heavy, or seems to stop altogether. And as a general rule, Caro sticks to the age-old advice that “strong means weak, and weak means strong.”

Blinking, handling chips, and rechecking hole cards are all common tells in Caro’s book, and like I said before, reading those tells was an important poker skill – emphasis on was.

Unfortunately for Caro, he has coasted on his tell based strategy for the last 30 years and counting. Rather than make an honest attempt to stay abreast with modern poker theory, Caro has worked tirelessly towards another pursuit monetizing his “Mad Genius” schtick.

Using a rhetorical style taken straight from “Free Money” author Matthew Lesko, the guy on TV wearing a question mark suit, Caro embarked on a series of projects only tangentially related to poker strategy. There was: his Poker Probe program for analyzing poker hands on your PC, the Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming and Life Strategy, and even “ORAC,” an early attempt at poker playing artificial intelligence.

Caro’s ability to market himself has never been in doubt, but with 2018 approaching, his advice has been reduced to an irrelevant relic.

The days of poker players tipping their hand through physical tells is long gone. Modern players shield their faces with hoodies and scarves, or adopt robotic routines designed to mask their emotional state. And while reading tells definitely has its place even today – the timing or sizing of a bet being the most reliable, the field has evolved by leaps and bounds from Caro’s heyday.

Antiquated ideas are part and parcel of gambling strategy, and a few authors who have seen time pass them by still deserve to be studied, but Caro isn’t one of them. Aside from his outdated approach to poker strategy, Caro’s work comes from a different time and place, one where casual racism and misogyny was par for the course.

As you can tell by reading the quote below, Caro is nothing more than poker’s caveman at this point, frozen solid and fixed in his ways.

Key Quote:

“You should notice things about each player’s appearance that might provide clues to future poker behavior.

Specifically, well dressed people tend to play conservatively. However, a man wearing a rumpled business suit with a loosened tie is probably in a gambling mood.

As a general rule, women are harder to bluff than men. Orientals are either very skillful or very luck oriented.”


  • Caro’s Book of Poker Tells (1984)
  • Caro on Gambling (1984)
  • Poker for Women: A Course in Destroying Male Opponents at Poker and Beyond (1986)
  • Caro’s Secrets of Winning Poker (1996)
  • The Body Language of Poker (2000)
  • Professional Hold’em Play by Play (2005)

3. John Patrick

Another in the long line of failed gamblers turned gambling writers, John Patrick began his career on the riverboat casinos of the old South.

After trying, and failing, to earn a living at the tables, Patrick resorted to washing dishes by day, while serving as a “prop” player to keep short games going by night. Upon realizing that he didn’t have what it takes to win consistently, Patrick did what so many unsuccessful gamblers have done over the years – packaged his dubious knowledge into a strategy book.

Through his “So You Wanna Be a Gambler?” series, Patrick wrote prolifically about blackjack (1983), slots and roulette (1983), and baccarat (1985) to launch his authorial ambitions.

Along with the usual boilerplate explaining basic odds and probabilities, Patrick’s books were connected by one common thread… bankroll management. According to Patrick, succeeding at any casino game is eminently possible, provided players are willing to adjust their idea of “success.”

Patrick advocates an extremely conservative style of bankroll management, one based on establishing “win limits” ahead of time. Essentially, his advice boils down to leaving the casino once you’ve hit your win limit. That way, you’ll guarantee a few winning sessions along the way to help offset the losing days.

For Patrick, his personal win limit was 20 percent of whatever he walked into the casino with. If that was $1,000, he’d play various games attempting to squeeze out small winners until he held $1,200. At that point, with his win limit satisfied, Patrick would simply walk away from the table and chalk up a victory.

In his words, Patrick considered himself as a winning player because he counted more of these small winning sessions than down days at the end of the year.

Obviously, this approach to casino gambling is nothing more than confirmation bias in action. By basing his success rate on wins, and not the sum of his wins and losses, Patrick simply gamed the system.

Anybody can place a few bets on blackjack and leave the game up when luck strikes. And using this style of play, anybody can declare that they won more often than they lost while playing blackjack.

But if he accounted for all of the blackjack bets he placed, viewing the year as just one continuous session, Patrick surely found himself in the red. Think about it… if you booked 20 winning sessions, at $100 profit per, and only five losing sessions (at $1,000 per), what’s the final tally?

Sure, you experienced 15 more winning sessions when compared to losing sessions. But those 20 winners generated $2,000 profit, while the five losers accounted for a $5,000 downswing. Overall, even a “winning” player like Patrick is a net loser when adopting the win limit style.

And even if conservative play is your thing, Patrick has a knack for advising players to take some of the worst bets in the house. As the quote below shows, he’s a big fan of using the longshot “Any Craps” bet when throwing dice, despite its massive house edge of 11.1 percent. He might have his reasons, but any gambling author who leads readers to believe 11.1 percent longshots are a sensible play isn’t worth your time.

Key Quote:

“The house pays 7:1 on the Any Craps bet, holding an 11.1 percent edge over the player. That’s pretty heavy. Craps players make this bet for different reasons.

If I put $15 on the Pass Line, I will make an Any Craps bet for $2, not because I think it will show, but because I want to reduce my chances of losing that Pass Line wager.

This theory is disagreed with in many other books on craps. But you lose four or five Pass Line wagers of $15, $20, or $25, and you’ll welcome the chance to hedge your bet.”


  • So You Wanna Be a Gambler: Slots (1983)
  • John Patrick’s Advanced Craps (1994)
  • Craps for the Clueless (2001)
  • John Patrick’s Internet Gambling (2002)
  • John Patrick’s Blackjack for the 21st Century (2004)

4. Peter Svoboda

With only one book to his credit, clearing Peter Svoboda from your gambling bookshelf should be a breeze.

But because that book was released rather recently, 2009’s “Beating the Casinos at Their Own Game” just might’ve made its way into your library over the last few years.

Svoboda isn’t a professional gambler by trade, holding dual degrees in mechanical and civil engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. But despite his obvious “book smarts,” Svoboda isn’t a source of reliable information about gambling strategy.

In his book, Svoboda does manage to write clear and concise introductions to the basics of several games. And if he would’ve left things there, those gameplay primers are rather useful.

But when he delves into actual advice on playing the games properly, Svoboda exposes himself as an unsophisticated rube at best – and a charlatan at worst. Take his guidance on roulette, for example (or better yet, don’t take it).

Somehow, some way, Svoboda manages to mess up one of the easiest games in the room. Every bet on the roulette table, from single numbers to colors and everything in between, offers a standardized house edge (2.70 percent on single zero wheels; 5.26 percent on double zero wheels), except for one bet that is.

When you wager on the “top line” bet on a double zero wheel, which covers the 1, 2, and 3 spaces plus the 0 and 00, the house edge jumps from 5.26 percent to 7.89 percent. That’s the worst bet in roulette as a result, but what do you suppose Svoboda recommends? Yup, the top line bet.

He does the same deal with craps, as shown in the quote below, telling players to follow his own method (2 percent house edge) rather than the basic strategy of betting on the Pass Line plus the Odds (1.41 percent).

Any gambling writer who can’t get the easy stuff right is clearly the wrong source for strategic knowledge.

Key Quote:

“Betting the Pass or Don’t Pass line gives the casino an advantage of only about 1.4 percent, and only about 0.8 percent when taking the odds. With double odds, this percentage is reduced even further – to about 0.6 percent.

Sounds great, but is it really?

For my Strategic Craps Method, I came up with a casino advantage of 2 percent.”


  • Beating the Casinos at Their Own Game (2009)

5. Chris “Sharpshooter” Pawlicki

At one point, the name “Sharpshooter” was a living legend in the craps world. He formed the first craps team, akin to the MIT blackjack team, attempting to use advantage play to clean the casinos out.

Over time, Sharpshooter was revealed to be professional gambler Chris Pawlicki, who helped to pioneer the technique known as “dice control.” Pawlicki’s advice centered around the idea that, with enough practice, players could toss the dice perfectly to ensure certain numbers were landed.

I’ve seen enough sleight of hand artists in my day to know that dice control just might be legitimate – but only for folks who spend hours and hours, day in and day out, perfecting the craft. And while I don’t doubt that Pawlicki and his peers can land numbers more often than probability would allow, I have serious reservations about how that advice applies to recreational readers.

Leaving the idea of dice control aside, it’s Pawlicki’s attempt to capitalize on another game of chance that really drew my ire. With his 2001 book “Get the Edge at Roulette: How to Predict Where the Ball Will Land!,” Pawlicki appeals to the most craven and deluded aspects of the gambling industry.

By promising readers a way to “read” the roulette wheel, or more accurately, the dealer spinning the wheel, Pawlicki resorts to pure snake oil salesmanship. His theory is based on the concept of muscle memory and repetition, with the idea being that certain dealers have a “signature” to their spins. The ball won’t always land in the same space, but it should land in a certain “zone” with a given dealer working the wheel.

I shouldn’t have to tell you this by now, but that whole notion is nothing more than nonsense. Defective wheels may have existed in the old days, but today they’re designed using sophisticated computer programs, lasers, and assembly lines.

Simply put, nobody can predict where the ball will land, despite Pawlicki’s desperate attempt to convince you otherwise.

Key Quote:

“The dealer’s signature refers to a certain tendency that a dealer will exhibit when spinning the rotor and then snapping the ball into play.

It is believed that well practiced dealers, spinning hour after hour for shift after shift, develop an automatic and repetitive delivery.

This signature delivery tends to foster results that are more predictable.”


  • Get the Edge at Roulette: How to Predict Where the Ball Will Land! (2001)
  • Get the Edge at Craps: How to Control the Dice! (2002)


You can find many gambling books that can help you learn strategy and tactics that help you win more or lose less. But some books should be avoided. This list of 5 gambling authors who don’t deserve a spot on your bookshelf helps you avoid reading books that might hurt more than they help.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.