Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bet the House by Richard Roeper

Richard Roeper is probably best known for the eight years he spent as cohost of Ebert & Roeper as they reviewed movies. But, he's had a daily column in the Chicago Sun-Times, and has written seven books. And, he's definitely a gambler, as shown in his latest book, Bet the House: How I Gambled Over a Grand a Day for 30 Days on Sports, Poker, and Games of Chance.

Roeper claims "There are two types of people in this world: gamblers and the sane." And, he points out, "The true national pastimes aren't baseball and football and basketball. The real national pastime is fantasy football. It's March Madness and all those brackets. It's poker and slots and the lottery and craps and blackjack and keno and church raffles and Bingo. It's gambling."

He admits he made his first bet at eleven. He played poker and craps in high school, and enjoyed an instant high when he bet, a kind of euphoria. He loves betting, and is fascinated by the gambling culture, so he decided to spend thirty days betting on as many forms of gambling as he could. Roeper bet on horse races, March Madness, the greyhounds. He bought lottery tickets, played the slots. A great deal of his time was spent on poker, either online or in poker tournaments. And, he made his own rules ahead of time so he could see how he won or lost over those thirty days.

And, he admitted he didn't really learn anything he didn't already know in those thirty days, but he had a great time. Roeper said his book tells of a roller coaster ride through more than a dozen types of gambling, as he explored the culture.

I think it was a little more of a roller coaster for the man going through those thirty days than for the reader. Although I found the first half of the book interesting, after a little while it became repetitious. Roeper's book might have been an exploration, but it felt as if it was exploitation instead. Richard Roeper enjoys gambling, so the book gave him an excuse to spend thirty days gambling. Bet the House was just a little too much of the same idea, gambling over a grand a day, every day.

Richard Roeper's website is

Bet the House: How I Gambled Over a Grand a Day for 30 Days on Sports, Poker, and Games of Chance by Richard Roeper. Chicago Review Press, ©2010. ISBN 9781569762479 (hardcover), 272p.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

At 272 pages, that sounds like a lot of gambling! It would have been interesting, though, in a shorter book maybe.

Lesa said...

You're right, Elizabeth. A shorter book, a magazine piece. It was a lot of gambling, and it got repetitive since he had to do play poker multiple times, etc.