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Theory of Gambling
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The Black SwanThe Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In the course of 400 pages, Nassim Taleb discourses amusingly and eruditely on black swans and the human reaction to them, which isn't always logical. The most valuable take-away message is that history does not always prepare us for the future - Taleb uses the example of turkeys and Christmas. For a thousand days, the farmer feeds his turkeys and the turkey think he's a kind man who loves turkeys. So when the day of slaughter comes, they get a rude awakening.

As such, it is a refreshing change from the superficial books expressing amazement by journalists or people who have never actually tested their theories in reality. Assuming he is right, much of modern finance and indeed thinking about highly improbable (but not impossible) events is frighteningly wrong.

A great read, beautifully and subtly brings out the difference between mandelbrotian and gaussian statistics and the error that we make is viewing all the world through the standard lens of bell curve. Nassim Taleb is a scholar with an eye for practical wisdom. He talks on beautifully bringing out the peculiarities of the statisticians flawed thought process world over.

Just right for a pandemic.

Paperback - 394 pages - Infarom (28 Feb 2008)  £9.59
Kindle - 436 pages (3 Apr 2008)   £4.99

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Probability Guide to GamblingProbability Guide to Gambling: The Mathematics of Dice, Slots, Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack, Poker, Lottery and Sport Bets
by Catalin Barboianu

This is probably the most useful book from Barboianu's serial of gambling maths. And is far superior than Packel's or even Thorpe's book, whose approach is mostly statistical. Gamblers may easily skip the maths sections and go directly to the odds table they need, due to a professional organization of the content.

The book contains much new and original material that has not been published previously and provides great coverage of probabilities for the following games of chance: Dice, Slots, Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack, Five Card Draw Poker, Texas Hold'em Poker, Lottery and Sport Bets.

It begins by explaining in simple terms the meaning of the concept of probability for the layman and goes on to become an enlightening journey through the mathematics of chance, randomness and risk. It then continues with the basics of discrete probability (definitions, properties, theorems and calculus formulas), combinatorics and counting arguments for those interested in the supporting mathematics.

These mathematic sections may be skipped by readers who do not have a background in mathematics; these readers can skip directly to the "Guide to Numerical Results" to pick the odds and recommendations they need for the desired gaming situation.

Paperback - 332 pages - Infarom (26 Aug 2006)  £19.00
No Kindle

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Conquering Risk: Attacking Vegas and Wall StreetConquering Risk - Attacking Vegas and Wall Street
by Elihu D. Feustel

How do you win at sports betting? Hard work and lots of modeling. This book walks you step by step through four winning computer models in NFL, WNBA, MLB and NCAA Football.

All manners of gambling are becoming increasingly popular in our society. Whether a person places a bet on sports or gambles on a stock, he is making a decision on risk. Most people need much more information than they have to make good decisions on either. A majority of the book focuses on sports betting. Four in-depth winning models are demonstrated for MLB, NFL, NCAA Football and WNBA. In addition to methods for handicapping these sports, there are explanations of a variety of approaches to exploit sports market inefficiencies and incorrect assumptions of bookmakers. The approaches to stock betting challenges commonly accepted knowledge.

How important is diversification? Are investors in individual stocks just gambling? Is maximizing your portfolio growth worth taking on added volatility? Is sports betting a better investment than stocks for some people? The approaches offered to risk taking, especially sports betting are ground breaking, with more fresh ideas than ever seen in a single coherent publication.

To elaborate, this is a book that is more of a guide to thinking about gambling in an advanced sense as opposed to a cookbook detailing recipes of how to do various bets. Finally a sports gambling book worth reading.

Paperback - 288 pages - George S. Howard (August 16, 2010)   £17.67
Kindle - 229 pages - Amazon Media EU S.à r.l. £7.80

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What's Luck Got to Do with It?: The History, Mathematics, and Psychology of the Gambler's IllusionWhat's Luck Got to Do with It?: The History, Mathematics, and Psychology of the Gambler's Illusion
by Joseph Mazur

Why do so many gamblers risk it all when they know the odds of winning are against them? Why do they believe dice are "hot" in a winning streak? Why do we expect heads on a coin toss after several flips have turned up tails? What's Luck Got to Do with It? takes a lively and eye-opening look at the mathematics, history, and psychology of gambling to reveal the most widely held misconceptions about luck. It exposes the hazards of feeling lucky, and uses the mathematics of predictable outcomes to show when our chances of winning are actually good.

Mathematician Joseph Mazur traces the history of gambling from the earliest known archaeological evidence of dice playing among Neolithic peoples to the first systematic mathematical studies of games of chance during the Renaissance, from government-administered lotteries to the glittering seductions of grand casinos, and on to the global economic crisis brought on by financiers' trillion-dollar bets. Using plenty of engaging anecdotes, Mazur explains the mathematics behind gambling--including the laws of probability, statistics, betting against expectations, and the law of large numbers--and describes the psychological and emotional factors that entice people to put their faith in winning that ever-elusive jackpot despite its mathematical improbability.

This book would likely be of most interest to anyone fascinated by gambling - from those who enjoy gambling very occasionally to professionals. Math buffs with a fascination for statistics and probability theory are also likely to thoroughly enjoy this book.

Hardcover - 296 pages - Princeton University Press (6 Jun 2010)   £20.99
Kindle - 291 pages - Amazon Media EU S.à r.l. £19.94

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The Theory of Gambling and Statistical LogicThe Theory of Gambling and Statistical Logic
by Richard Epstein

Richard Epstein's classic book on gambling and its mathematical analysis covers the full range of games from penny matching, to blackjack and other casino games, to the stock market (including Black-Scholes analysis). He even considers what light statistical inference can shed on the study of paranormal phenomena. Epstein is witty and insightful, a pleasure to dip into and read and rewarding to study. The book is written at a fairly sophisticated mathematical level, this is not- Gambling for Dummies- or 'how to beat the odds' book, and an understanding of mathematics is essential to reading this book.

"This classic book should be part of the library of everyone who wants to better understand games and gambling. The treatment is unique, original, and intriguing." - EDWARD O. THORPE, AUTHOR OF BEAT THE DEALER

Hardcover - 250 pages - Academic Press; 2nd edition edition (13 Oct. 2012)   £100.72
Kindle - 465 pages - Academic Press; 2 edition (28 Dec 2012) £26.87

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Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Everyone wants to succeed in life. But what causes some of us to be more successful than others? Is it really down to skill and strategy - or something altogether more unpredictable? This book is the word-of-mouth sensation that will change the way you think about business and the world. It is all about luck: more precisely, how we perceive luck in our personal and professional experiences.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the markets - we hear an entrepreneur has 'vision' or a trader is 'talented', but all too often their performance is down to chance rather than skill. It is only because we fail to understand probability that we continue to believe events are non-random, finding reasons where none exist. This irreverent bestseller has shattered the illusions of people around the world by teaching them how to recognize randomness. Now it can do the same for you. .

Paperback - 368 pages (3 May 2007)     £6.54

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Mathematics of Games and Gambling
by Edward W. Packel

The new edition of a favourite which introduces and develops some of the important and beautiful elementary mathematics needed for rational analysis of various gambling and game activities. Most of the standard casino games (roulette, craps, blackjack, keno), some social games (backgammon, poker, bridge) and various other activities (state lotteries, horse racing) are treated in ways that bring out their mathematical aspects. The mathematics developed ranges from the predictable concepts of probability, expectation, and binomial coefficients to some less well-known ideas of elementary game theory.

The second edition includes new material on: Sports betting and the mathematics behind it Game theory applied to bluffing in poker and related to the 'Texas Holdem phenomenon' . The only formal mathematics background the reader needs is some facility with school algebra.

Hardcover - 192 pages 2Rev Ed edition (Mar 2007)     £23.75  

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Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street
by William Poundstone

This is an excellent book about the discovery of the Kelly formula that is unknown outside gambling. This story has three protagonists. Two of them were scientists working at Bell Labs: Claude Shannon, a genius polymath who developed information theory; and John Kelly, a maverick genius, who is directly responsible for the development of Kelly's formula. The third one is a brilliant MIT mathematician, Ed Thorp.

As the author states, Ed Thorp's genius consists in "...his continuous ability to discover new market inefficiencies ... as old ones played out." Ed Thorp closed this second fund in 2002. He is now independently exploring inefficiencies in gambling.

Claude Shannon amassed large wealth by recording one of the best investment records. His performance had little to do with Kelly's formula. Between 1966 and 1986, his record beat even Warren Buffet (28% to 27% respectively). Shannon strategy was similar to Buffet. Both their stock portfolios were concentrated, and held for the long term. Shannon achieved his record by holding mainly three stocks (Teledyne, Motorola, and HP). The difference between the two was that Shannon invested in technology because he understood it well, while Buffet did not.

John Kelly was a chain smoking, gun collecting brilliant physicist. He died young at 41 of an aneurysm. He worked closely with Shannon at Bell Labs. Besides being a charismatic character the author does not write much about his life compared to the other two.

Hardcover - 400 pages (September 14, 2005)     £13.96  

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Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk
by Peter L. Bernstein

Bernstein has managed to take a subject which at first sight seems intensely boring, and has made it fascinating. Whether or not you have any interest in Risk, Statistics or Econimics, you owe it to yourself to read this book. It is quite simply a "Ripping Yarn". Its greatness lies in Bernstein's ability to tell the story in an accessible manner, without dumbing down the essential facts. Let me say it again: Read this book because it is a fascinating and well written story. The fact you will know a lot more about Risk at the end of it is an incidental, but very welcome, extra.

Paperback - 394 pages (9 October, 1998)  expected price £3.99 Buy This Book  

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Taking Chances by John Haigh
What are the odds against winning the Lottery, making money in a casino, or backing the right horse? Every day, people make judgements on these matters and face other decisions that rest on their understanding of probability: buying insurance, following medical advice, carrying an umbrella. Yet many of us have a frightening ignorance of how probability works. This text presents an entertaining and fascinating exploration of probability, revealing traps and fallacies in the field. It describes and analyses a variety of situations where chance plays a role, including football pools, the Lottery, TV games, sport, cards, roulette, coins, and dice. The book guides the reader round common pitfalls, demonstrates how to make better informed decisions, and shows where the odds can be unexpectedly in your favour.
Paperback - 344 pages (May 2000)  expected price £7.19 Buy This Book  

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Getting the Best of It

by David Sklansky
Getting the Best of It by David Sklansky contains six sections discussing probability, poker, blackjack, other casino games, sports betting, and general gambling concepts. This book contains some of the most sophisticated gambling ideas that have ever been put into print. Included is perhaps the best discussion of the basic mathematics of gambling, yet it is written so that even the most non-mathematical of readers can understand it. Many of the ideas discussed are those that the author himself has successfully used during his career. Topics include expectation, combinations, Baye's Theorem, the eight mistakes in poker, checking in the dark, playing tight, The Key Card Concept, casinos and their mistakes, crapless craps, betting sports, hedging and middling, knowing what's important, the Law of Averages and other fallacies, and much more.

Paperback - 310 pages (May 1997)  expected price £18.88   Buy This Book  

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Extra Stuff : Gambling Ramblings by Peter Griffin
This book addresses many of gambling's abstract concepts-proportional wagering, considerations for games with variable pay-offs, the effects of rebates on losses-as well as more mainstream subjects, such as the casino's treatment of hold percentages and analyses of gambling systems. Although packed with mathematics, Griffin's easy style accommodates most readers. Gamblers with all levels of experience will have an enhanced understanding of the games.
This is a well-written book about numbers, life, probability, humour, trading, and you-name-it, disguised as a series of articles about gambling odds. If you are a gambler, you must read this book.

Paperback - 176 pages (July 1991)  expected price £7.53 Buy This Book  

E v e r y m a n

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gambling Like a Pro
by Standord Wong, Susan Spector

From one of the most respected writers, Wong. Some problems with US based games but most ideas transferable to the UK and internet casinos. This guide explains the basics of the major games of chance (such as slot machines and roulette), numbers games (lottery and bingo), table games (poker and black jack), and picking a winner (sport betting and horse racing).

Paperback - 432 pages 2nd Ed (30 June, 1999)  expected price £12.99  Buy This Book  

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