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

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

by Joseph Mazur
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691138907

ISBN-13: 9780691138909

Pub. Date: 06/03/2010

Publisher: Princeton University Press

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

Overview

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.

As entertaining as it is informative, What's Luck Got to Do with It? demonstrates the pervasive nature of our belief in luck and the deceptive psychology of winning and losing.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691138909
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
06/03/2010
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Part I: The History
Chapter 1. Pits, Pebbles, and Bones
Rolling to Discover Fate 3
Chapter 2. The Professionals
Luck Becomes Measurable 19
Chapter 3. From Coffeehouses to Casinos
Gaming Becomes Big Business 37
Chapter 4. There's No Stopping It Now
From Bans to Bookies 46
Chapter 5. Betting with Trillions
The 2008 World Economic Calamity 58

Part II : The Mathematics
Chapter 6. Who's Got a Royal Flush?
One Deal as Likely as Another 75
Chapter 7. The Behavior of a Coin
Making Predictions with Probability 83
Chapter 8. Someone Has to Win
Betting against Expectation 101
Chapter 9. A Truly Astonishing Result
The Weak Law of Large Numbers 118
Chapter 10. The Skill/Luck Spectrum
Even Great Talent Needs Some Good Fortune 131

Part III : The Analysis
Chapter 11. Let It Ride
The House Money Effect 157
Chapter 12. Knowing When to Quit
Psychomanaging Risk 168
Chapter 13. The Theories
What Makes a Gambler? 182
Chapter 14. Hot Hands
Expecting Long Runs of the Same Outcome 202
Chapter 15. Luck
The Dicey Illusion 209

Acknowledgments 217
Appendix A. Descriptions of the Games Used in This Book 219
Appendix B. Glossary of Gambling Terms Used in This Book 224
Appendix C. The Weak Law of Large Numbers 227
Appendix D. Glossary of Mathematical Definitions 229
Appendix E. Callouts 236
Notes 249
Further Reading 265
Index 267

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