Book review of Bet the House: How I Gambled Over a Grand a Day for 30 Days
Recommended if you like
Richard Roeper
Chicago Review Press
Bet the House: How I Gambled Over a Grand a Day for 30 Days on Sports, Poker, and Games of Chance

Reviewed by Joe Tackett


hose with addictive personalities and poor impulse control ought to avoid Richard Roeper’s “Bet the House,” a smooth, easy read sure to send the less disciplined scrambling to call the guys over to the house for an impromptu round of Texas Hold’em. You know who you are. We need not mention any names, but the likes of well-known gambling aficionados such as John Daley, Antoine Walker and Charles Barkley could sure use a copy. Or not. After all, this book is not exactly a cautionary tale.

In “Bet the House,” Roeper embarks on a 30-day odyssey fueled by a zealous determination to risk his hard-earned cash in every legal and quasi-legal game of chance there is. Roeper’s risky itch begins at 11-years-old when he casts his first bet on the Ali-Frazier fight and hasn’t stopped since.  Roeper uses his vast gaming experience to take the reader on a rollercoaster journey from the gut wrenching heartbreak of watching bets disintegrate under the pressure of March Madness, to the adrenal gland-busting joy of holding a Royal Flush.

Roeper does an exceptional job in lifting the veil of mystery surrounding the world of professional gambling and exposing a gaming arena this reader lacks the stomach or the bankroll to pull off.  From flipping “a coin one hundred times for $100 a pop” to watching and wagering which raindrop will reach the bottom of the window pane first, Roeper’s relaxed narrative surprises with how flippant, and at times, how exact, gambling can be.

Do you or someone you know believe there is a method to picking lottery numbers? Well, think again, and find out “why state lotteries are worse than any numbers game run by the mob.”  What about slots? If you’ve ever been to a casino then you know about the mindless herd of naive hopefuls who surround the glittering machines, methodically tugging at the slot levers in wide-eyed desperation.  Murderous odds, says the author, and it lacks the “jolt when your team covers the spread.” And besides, “Monkeys could be trained to play the slots.” Ouch.

In “Bet the House,” the author manages to impart a lot of practical, how-to gaming strategy without losing the reader in a maze of boring mumbo-jumbo. In fact, Roeper makes it somewhat fun and engaging with his whimsical, anecdotal approach to betting almost a quarter of a million dollars in 30 days time.  In all, I’m not disappointed I took a few hours skinning back the book’s cover and wading into its contents.  There are some dry sections, but overall Roeper actually succeeds in making a month-long gambling binge interesting.

After reading this, you can bet the next time you’re sitting around with your buddies at one of your regular poker games and your stack of chips has dwindled to nil, you’ll certainly know how to step away from the green felted table with your pride and sense of humor intact. I’d bet on it.

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