Jackpot - James Swain I very much enjoy Swain’s Tony Valentine character. For whatever reason, Swain’s publisher had decided not to release this book a couple of years ago, and only now has it come out for Kindle. It’s an excellent story that continues relationship between Gerry (Tony’s reprobate son) and his father.

For those not familiar with the Valentine character, Tony runs a business, Grift Sense, that detects and reveals casino cheaters, i.e. grifters. Part of the fun of the books lies in the detail Swain provides about various scams and how they work as well as the psychology of gambling. He cites Skinner’s famous experiments with mice. ““The mouse tapped on that lever all day long. It didn’t matter that the mouse didn’t know when the food would come out. The mouse just knew that it eventually would. Skinner called this intermittent reinforcement.” “And that’s how slot machines hook suckers into playing,” Gerry said. “Yeah, but there’s a catch.” “What’s that?” “Slot players believe the more money they put in, the more likely the machine will pay off.” This belief has no basis in fact since payoffs are entirely random. That randomness is challenged by a clever gang of experts who have a unique motivation for punishing Vegas.

(Note that the author reports at the end of the book that he borrowed this particular scam from a real event that occurred in the nineties.)