This is a book about a gambling system that works. It tells the
story of how the author used computer simulation and
mathematical modeling techniques to predict the outcome of
jai-alai matches and bet on them successfully -- increasing his
initial stake by over 500% in one year! His method can work
for anyone: at the end of the book he tells the best way to
watch jai-alai, and how to bet on it.
With humor and enthusiasm, Skiena details a life-long
fascination with the computer prediction of sporting events.
Along the way, he discusses other gambling systems, both
successful and unsuccessful, for such games as lotto, roulette,
blackjack, and the stock market. Indeed, he shows how his
jai-alai system functions just like a miniature stock trading
Do you want to learn about program trading systems, the future
of Internet gambling, and the real reason brokerage houses
don't offer mutual funds that invest at racetracks and
frontons? How mathematical models are used in political
polling? The difference between correlation and causation?
If you are curious about gambling and mathematics, odds are
this is the book for you!
Calculated Bets: Computers, Gambling, and Mathematical Modeling to Win
is copublished by Cambridge University Press
Mathematical Association of America.
``One of the best math books I've read in years.''
-- Keith Devlin,
National Public Radio
``I couldn't put it down.
The informal style is terrific; we should have more books written this way.''
-- Persi Diaconis, Stanford University
``A fascinating, unusual, and entertainingly written book that
manages to captivate and inform at the same time. A superb
account of how to apply mathematics to a real world problem.
One of the best math books I've read in years.''
-- Keith Devlin,
National Public Radio and author of
The Math Gene
``A well told story by a guy who really knows his stuff.
I couldn't put it down.
The informal style is terrific; we should have more books written this way.
The mathematics and the computer science are all shuffled together,
which is the way problems like this are really solved.
Using personal stories as examples is a great way to get the point across.
Skiena really knows how to teach.''
-- Persi Diaconis, Stanford University
``Basic mathematics, wagering, and a genuine appreciation
of sports converge as Steven Skiena explores virtually very tangible
facet involved in predicting the outcome of jai-alai matches.
stands as a practical,
applicable, and thoroughly executed example of how mathematical
theory extends far beyond the academic boundaries in which so many
of us attempt to contain it.''
-- Mark Balestra,
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Gambling
``This funny and utterly compelling book is the story of how Skiena and his
students constructed an embarrassingly successful computer program called
-- from the
full review in New Scientist by
Splitting the Second.
``An interesting story of a student turned professor's travels through the
world of gambling and investment games.
The book is easy to follow and provides insight to the beginning student
of gambling games.
Jai Alai is the main focus on the tour, this is a most interesting game,
and the author knows a lot about it.''
-- William T. Ziemba, Univ. of British Columbia and author of
The Efficiency of Racetrack Betting Markets
``...very few of us can turn our non-mathematical hobbies into papers or
books.....Skiena has managed to get a book out of his hobby....the book is
well written and intereseting....should have a wide audience...high school
student...grad student or professor would benefit from it....The key is
that all the math here is motivated by solving a real world problem, and
that has a certain appeal.''
-- Bill Gasarch, Univ. of Maryland, from his review in SIGACT News.
``In conclusion, this book is a must for gambling enthusiasts. It gives a very good
account of how technology and mathematics can assist in improving the odds for
a knowledgeable gambler. It is also an excellent read for academics and students
on how technology can be applied to the real world with profitable results. In fact,
the author provides a list of interesting projects that researchers may wish to
carry out. This book is an excellent investment.''
-- Dr. Clarence Tan, from his review for ACM Computing Reviews, July 2002.
``Although I don ot have a particular interest in gambling at jai-alai,
I found the book to be a very enjoyable read....
I recommend this book for anyone who is curious about how mathematics and
simulation can be used to learn how to win at gambling.''
-- Jim Albert, Bowling Green State University, from his review for
The American Statistician
My books include:
I tell this story as a vehicle to
introduce to explain several things which have long interested me:
The Power of Mathematical Modeling --
Mathematical models govern our economy and help forecast our weather.
They predict who will win the election and
decide whether your mortgage should be granted.
However, the man on the street has at best a dim understanding
of what mathematical models are and how they work.
In this book, I use our jai-alai system to
thoroughly explain how mathematical models are designed, built, and validated.
The Craft of Computer Programming --
For most people, the ideas behind modern computing systems
lie shrouded beneath a thick mist of buzzwords and technology.
They do not understand the process by which computer
programs are made to work,
and the elegance and beauty which underlies the best software.
In this book, I will show how my students and I built a very interesting
computer program which works completely without operator intervention,
even phoning in our bets for us.
I use our jai-alai system to
explain to the layman such computer science concepts as parsing
and why the Millennium bug is hard to kill, why real programmers hate
Microsoft, and the real glories of the Internet.
The Joys of Jai-Alai --
Jai-alai is a spectator sport and gambling venue which is
under appreciated and misunderstood by the public.
I'd like to acquaint a new audience with the history and color
of this fun and exciting
sport; and whet the interest of current fans by making them
more aware of what determines the outcome of each match.
Finally, I'll tell the reader the best way to watch jai-alai,
and to bet on it.
The Mathematics of Money --
Gambling and mathematics have a long and interesting history together.
I'll discuss other gambling systems, both successful and unsuccessful,
for such games as lotto, roulette, blackjack, and Wall Street.
Indeed, my jai-alai system functions very much as a stock trading system
The reader will learn how program trading systems work, the future of Internet
gambling, and the real reason
brokerage houses don't offer mutual funds that invest at racetracks