There’s something about poker that brings out the inner Tolstoy in that community. If you want to read about the intricacies of flop, turn and river play, you have hundreds of books to choose from. Right this second someone, somewhere probably just finished a 4,000-word chapter on ace-queen suited in the small blind. Sports bettors don’t always have that expansive luxury, but here is a list of books about sports betting that any bettor should have in their library.
This isn’t a comprehensive list. Some of them aren’t even sports gambling strategy books. But we think if you give these a read, you’ll not only be able to apply solid fundamentals to your game, you’ll also be in a good spot to handle the swings, variance and beats that come with betting.
Best Books About Sports Betting:
Sharp Sports Betting
Stanford Wong, 2001
A wonderful primer if you’re coming into sports betting with zero betting strategies, Wong’s Sharp Sports Betting details the basics of the game and the math that drives everything from breakeven percentages to what have since become known as Wong teasers.
Like in any 21-year-old how-to guide, there are sections of the book that have become outdated (though reading up on the particulars of the Wire Act can be a fun anti-nostalgia kick), but there are fundamental and timeless truths in here that all serious sports bettors should know about. Knowing how to quantify your edge or calculate expected value will never go out of style.
The Logic of Sports Betting
Ed Miller and Matthew Davidow, 2017
Where do lines come from for sports markets? Who shapes them? Why do sportsbooks behave the way they do? And how can the average bettor take advantage of all of that? The men behind Huddle Tech (née DeckPrism, whose lines Premium subscribers should be well familiar with), put together this thoughtful book about sports betting that will give anyone who knows the basics or the sports betting industry a deeper understanding. Learning about strong and weak markets, derivatives and synthetic holds will make any bettor better.
Sharper: A Guide to Modern Sports Betting
True PokerJoe, 2016
As practical and hard-nosed a volume as you’ll find in any collection of sports betting books, bettor (and Unabated Discord contributor) PokerJoe deftfully breaks down advanced concepts like projecting around independent player values and how to account for home field without sugarcoating just how much hard work it takes to become a successful bettor.
As much as he lays out practical, actionable tips like spreadsheet formulas you can plug into your own software, where Joe truly shines is in the hard-won wisdom on what it takes to truly think about betting beyond a surface level.
“A lot of people like math because they think they’re doing something that avoids the ‘It’s just a matter of opinion’ irritation,” he writes. “The mistake they’re making is this: there’s no room for opinions in math as to the calculation results, but as to the questions? That’s different, and it’s the questions that are interesting.”
Read that over. Read it again. Read it a few times until it’s etched onto your soul.
Statistical Sports Models in Excel Vol. 1 and 2
Andrew Mack, 2019 and 2020
Self-taught statistician Mack wrote this two-volume set as an on-ramp to people who were interested in exploring modeling, but hadn’t taken their first steps into the quant life.
Excel may not pack the punch that R or Python do, but it’s a significantly more user-friendly experience. Mack aims to get you up and running on building out your sheets with confidence. Just be ready to re-read sections if you’re not naturally inclined toward some of the concepts.
If ideas like R Squared don’t scare you off, your perseverance will be rewarded with a practical entry into the world of modeling.
Then One Day … 40 Years of Bookmaking in Nevada
Chris Andrews, 2019
The South Point sportsbook has an undeniable cachet you don’t normally find in off-Strip properties. Jimmy Vaccaro and Chris Andrews, two bookmakers with nearly 100 years of combined experience setting lines and writing tickets in Las Vegas are why.
Then One Day … may not make you a sharper bettor but it’s a stone-cold ride through the days when sports betting was less JB Smoove kicking it with Peyton Manning than it was a crew of behind-the-counter pirates taking bets and taking names. Solid pro tip from Andrews if you ever find yourself running a casino: don’t let your sportsbook managers offer 6-point NHL teasers. It has happened, and it worked out exactly as well as you think it did.
Thinking Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman, 2013
The first book that doesn’t directly deal with sports betting. Kahneman’s bestseller deals with how you approach problem solving and critical thinking.
Much of sports betting is about finding value and spotting inefficiencies. This book is a great way to learn how to approach the self-education that is required in becoming a strong sports bettor.
This definitely isn’t the first book you should read in your sports betting journey, but it is a great complementary text which will help you grow both personally and professionally.
Conquering Risk: Attacking Vegas and Wall Street
Elihu D. Feustel and George S. Howard, 2010
Like Wong’s Sharp Sports Betting, this book is fairly dated for today’s regulated sportsbook industry. However, the concepts remain timeless. Feustel does a great job of presenting logical approaches to getting the edge at sports betting.
If you struggle with some of the “why” regarding sports betting, this book will help you understand that. The section of financial investing has aged more than the sports betting section. However, if you’re looking for strong sports betting theory, this is a cornerstone book.
A new book from Feustel is due out in the coming year. It will probably be a must-read as well.
Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks
Joseph Buchdahl, 2016
Have you ever wondered why you are drawn to gambling? Or have you ever wondered why some people choose to gamble and lose rather than take minor steps to become a more educated bettor? Buchdahl’s book will help you understand the psychology behind betting.
If you’re already an educated bettor this book will help you refine your approach and avoid future pitfalls. This is the type of book you read once and then think about forever. You’ll find yourself coming back to certain sections of this book to understand why you act the way you do with regards to your betting.
Joe Peta, 2013
This is a great book to learn a process for winning sports betting. Peta takes you on his personal journey of how he turned a life-altering event into the pursuit of a passion.
The key for the reader is not the story but what Peta was doing to find and quantify his edge. The glimpse he offers of how hard it was to get the money down before the days of mobile betting will have you clutching your smartphone in gratitude.
It’s a good way to see what it takes to handicap and originate your own plays. This book is worth a read if you have interest in trying to attack baseball markets.
The Smart Money
Michael Konik, 2006
Dated and prone to some writer embellishment, this selection is more about sports betting entertainment than enlightenment. Konik tells the story of his time as a runner for Billy Walters.
Some of his fellow runners included Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard the story, it’s because Konik was forced to change the names of everyone involved.
However, plenty of Hollywood as well Vegas sports betting luminaries make an appearance in this engaging story. There were long rumors of a movie version, but it never materialized.
If you need help deciphering who is who in the story compared to real life, join our Discord where we might be discussing this one in our new #book-club channel.