For sports gamblers in Las Vegas, nobody cares who wins; it's by how much that matters. In The Odds , Chad Millman follows three professional gamblers through a year of college basketball, where meticulous research, betting discipline, and instinct clash with addiction, and no one relaxes until they've lost it all. The three colorful gamblers Millman expertly portrays are a high-rolling career "wiseguy," a slacker wannabe, and a bookmaker who sets the lines on games (for example, Iowa over Indiana by 4-1/2 points, meaning if you bet on Iowa, you win only if Iowa wins by five points or more). The idea behind the betting line is to lure bets (hopefully, losing ones) and make a profit for his casino from the action, but more importantly to stay ahead of those who pounce on a weak line like hungry wolves. Millman provides the answer to what makes these wiseguys tick: "While the casual bettor weighs common sense and financial realities with every bet, the wiseguy pushes those aside... [his] battle isn't with what makes sense; his battle is with anyone who gets in the way of making his bet a euphoric experience." Along with lurid details of what these gamblers do to feed their frenzy, Millman enriches us on gambling's history and sobering statistics, on Vegas's decline and the rise of offshore casinos, and on the effects of media coverage and politics on sports and gambling. While you won't learn how to get rich off the next office pool, you will get an inside look at those who make or lose money on some kid's buzzer-beater or a garbage-time lay-up. --Michael Ferch
To some, sports betting is good clean fun it adds spice to the game to put a little down on your alma mater. To others, it's big business federal agents estimated that before the 2000 Super Bowl that nearly $5 billion would be bet both legally and illegally, and the 2000 NCAA basketball tournament drew nearly $80 million in legal Nevada bets and estimates running from $2.5 to $7 billion in illegal action. Here, sports reporter Chad Millman goes to Las Vegas, the legal gambling mecca threatened by recent legislation and offshore Internet betting sites, and follows the men who make the odds and those who try to beat them. This is not a Reefer Madness-style expos designed to scare gamblers straight, but its depiction of the lives of a young bookmaker, a big player, and a rookie gambling professional still might make bettors consider dialing 1-800-BETS-OFF. Recommended for larger public libraries. Jim Burns, Ottumwa P.L., IA Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.