Gambling Probabilities: Why Donald Trump Is Richer than You


Considering how many ways people have invented to gamble away their money, this chapter could easily be the longest in the book. Gambling authority John Scarne's 1986 New Complete Guide to Gambling covers all the casino games, card games, dog and horse racing, slot machines, and plenty more, including several games he invented himself. The book presents a lot of odds calculations, but it is not a probability book. Still, it is almost 900 pages long. For a splendid account on probability and gambling more along the lines of the book you are now reading, see the previously mentioned Winning with Probability by John Haigh. His book covers not only the traditional casino games but also board games such as Monopoly and Backgammon and TV game shows such as Weakest Link and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

I will be more modest and only cover a few of the most common casino games. With this intention, this chapter could instead easily be the shortest: By the law of averages the casino wins and you lose. Period.

Still, gambling is interesting for several reasons. First, of course, because people gamble, the law of averages notwithstanding. And they gamble a lot; gambling is a multibillion dollar industry in the United States alone and a vital source of income for states, Indian tribes, charitable organizations, and Donald Trump. And then there is the casino in Monte Carlo, the Royal Ascot horse race, the casinos ...

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