A guide to how the world's smartest gamblers are using science to take on the house - and win - whether they're playing blackjack, having a flutter at the racetrack, buying scratch cards or laying in-play football bets at the bookies'.
Gamblers have been trying to figure out how to game the system since our ancestors first made wagers over dice fashioned from knucklebones: in revolutionary Paris, the 'martingale' strategy was rumoured to lead to foolproof success at roulette; today, professional gamblers are using cutting-edge techniques to tilt the odds in their favour. Science is giving us the competitive edge over opponents, casinos and bookmakers. But is there such a thing as a perfect bet?
The Perfect Bet looks beyond probability and statistics to examine how wagers have inspired a plethora of new disciplines - spanning chaos theory, machine learning and game theory - which are not just revolutionising gambling, but changing our fundamental notions about chance, randomness and luck.
Explaining why poker is gaming's last bastion of human superiority over AI, how methods originally developed for the US nuclear programme are helping pundits predict sports results and why a new breed of algorithms are losing banks millions, The Perfect Bet has the inside track on any wager you'd care to place.
About the Author
Adam Kucharski is a researcher at Imperial College London and an award-winning science writer. Born in 1986, he studied at the University of Warwick before completing a PhD in mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He has published papers on topics ranging from evolutionary biology to the social structure of epidemics, and in 2013 was awarded a research fellowship by the UK Medical Research Council to investigate disease emergence in Southeast Asia.
Winner of the 2012 Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize, his popular science articles have appeared in the Observer newspaper and BBC Focus and BBC Plus magazines. He currently lives in London.
This book is full of magic. It's brimming with clever people and clever ideas... The links between betting and science run deep and wide, allowing Kucharski to cover some thrilling intellectual territory. * New Scientist *
Terrific: beautifully written, solidly researched and full of surprises * New York Times Numberplay blog *
Elegant and amusing ... anyone planning to enter a casino or place an online bet would be advised to
keep this book handy * Wall Street Journal *
Kucharski's clear prose and eye for an entertaining historical anecdote give his book an accessible feel ... an enjoyable account. * Racing Post *
[An] enjoyable... paean to human ingenuity, and a Robin Hood tale of wealth redistribution. * Daily Telegraph *
Great stories of how smart people have used maths, statistics and science to try and beat the odds - legally' -- David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, University of Cambridge
A wild ride through the history, psychology, mathematics, and technology of gaming - a remarkable look behind the curtain of what most people think is intuitive, but isn't -- Paul Offit, author of Bad Faith
With an entertaining writing style, Adam Kucharski guides us through the history and state of the art of "The Perfect Bet," showing us how mathematics and computers are used to come up with optimal ways to gamble, play games, bluff, and invest our money. Extremely well-written and carefully researched. I highly recommend it. -- Arthur Benjamin, Author of 'The Magic of Maths'
A lucid yet sophisticated look at the mathematics of probability as it's played out on gaming tables, arenas, and fields... Gamblers and math buffs alike will enjoy it for its smart approach to real-world problems * Kirkus Reviews *