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
     
 

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

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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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691138909
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
06/03/2010
Pages:
296
Sales rank:
1,400,276
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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