I like a weekly public radio show called "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me." Its host, Peter Sagal, is a funny and witty guy and does well at bringing out humor from his guests as they poke fun at the news of the week.
He wrote a book recently: The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (And How to Do Them). I heard him interviewed on the local public radio station when he was doing promotion, and put it on my amazon.com wish list. I got it for Christmas, and have already finished it.
It's not about poker, but much of the research for the book was done in Las Vegas, including the chapters on gambling and strip clubs, and, I suspect (though it is not stated), the one on swinging.
I don't really have a lot to say about the book other than to recommend it for general entertainment. Sagal's naivete about the world's vices is kind of charming. He admits freely that he just doesn't get why people want to indulge in virtually any of the things he writes about, even after exploring the subjects and talking to those involved.
He has a lightly humorous style that I really liked. For example, this on swinging:
We are told, via their occasional interviews in the press, that swingers or
Lifestylers or whatever are no different from you and me...they meet up to
socialize, talk, drink, and dance with their good friends, old and new. And then
they have sex with them. Which makes me stop, and consider the various good
friends my wife and I have, and then consider how it would be if one of our
suburban dinner parties ended with us removing our clothes and performing sexual
acts, and I have to put my head between my knees and take deep breaths.
Here are a few of his musings on gambling:
And why would anybody play slot machines anyway? Particularly the ones that
cost $500 a pull? The only less enjoyable way to dispose of $500 is to have it
taken from you at knifepoint, and even that provides a good story to tell later
This is known as either the law of averages or the law of large numbers,
which is the basic principle of nature--not gravity, as you may have
thought--that holds up the big walls at the Bellagio.
So all the games they offer have, built into them, a house
edge ... a small probability that the casino will win, eventually. If you happen
to be near a casino roulette table while reading this book, you can actually
walk up and touch that edge with your finger right now ... it's the green 0 and
00 spaces at the wheel side of the felt. Bet black at roulette and you might
think you have a 50 percent chance of winning ... but it's actually about 47
percent, because of those two spaces that are neither red nor black. And those
three points of difference, between a dead-even game and a game that favors the
house by even a tiny margin, are why Steve Wynn has a private jet and you don't.
The most puzzling thing about the book is the selection of "vices." He understandably includes swinging, gambling, pornography, and strip clubs. But the chapters on lying, eating exotic gourmet food, and excessive consumer consumption seem out of place, not even meeting the author's own definition of what constitutes a "vice." Just as puzzling is the omission of other obvious candidates: alcohol, drugs, prostitution. Maybe they're being saved for a sequel.
Despite that, it's a fun read, and you might even learn a thing or two along the way.