The three colorful gamblers Millman expertly portrays are a high-rolling career "wiseguy," a slacker wannabe, and a bookmaker who sets the lines on games (for example, Iowa over Indiana by 4-1/2 points, meaning if you bet on Iowa, you win only if Iowa wins by five points or more). The idea behind the betting line is to lure bets (hopefully, losing ones) and make a profit for his casino from the action, but more importantly to stay ahead of those who pounce on a weak line like hungry wolves. Millman provides the answer to what makes these wiseguys tick: "While the casual bettor weighs common sense and financial realities with every bet, the wiseguy pushes those aside... [his] battle isn't with what makes sense; his battle is with anyone who gets in the way of making his bet a euphoric experience."
Along with lurid details of what these gamblers do to feed their frenzy, Millman enriches us on gambling's history and sobering statistics, on Vegas's decline and the rise of offshore casinos, and on the effects of media coverage and politics on sports and gambling. While you won't learn how to get rich off the next office pool, you will get an inside look at those who make or lose money on some kid's buzzer-beater or a garbage-time lay-up. --Michael Ferch