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Researchers Create a Statistical Guide To Gambling

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the crunch-the-numbers dept.

Math 185

New submitter yukiloo writes "An early Christmas treat for the ordinary Joe who is stuck with a Christmas list that he cannot afford and is running out of time comes from two mathematicians (Evangelos Georgiadis, MIT, and Doron Zeilberger, Rutgers) and a computer scientist (Shalosh B. Ekhad). In their paper 'How to gamble if you're in a hurry,' they present algorithmic strategies and reclaim the world of gambling, which they say has up till recently flourished on the continuous Kolmogorov paradigm by some sugary discrete code that could make us hopefully richer, if not wiser. It's interesting since their work applies an advanced version of what seems to be the Kelly criterion."

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185 comments

Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (5, Interesting)

questioner (147810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337546)

Half this submission makes no sense, grammatically or otherwise.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (1, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337604)

That's OK. It's not really a paper, it's just a way to sell Maple software.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337638)

Are you an American, by any chance? I'm asking in all seriousness. Just because this submission makes no sense to you doesn't mean that it makes no sense to the rest of the world.

This work being discussed here builds on some very basic fundamentals of statistics and algebra. Here in Europe, as well as in Japan where I've studied briefly, the work of Kolmogorov and concepts like the Kelly criterion are at least known of by all undergraduate-level students in math, science, engineering and even business programs. These are topics studied near the end of most introductory statistics courses, or during a second statistics course at worst.

If you don't understand these topics, don't blame it on the editing of the submissions. It's likely just that you were never exposed to what's actually pretty basic and common knowledge throughout the rest of the world.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337644)

You're an ass.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337690)

Having a basic understanding of the field of statistics makes you an ass? Huh?

How exactly do you Americans ever hope to compete in the modern knowledge-based economy if you shun the acquisition of knowledge, and then ridicule anyone (that is, the rest of the world) who do have the small degree of skill and ability necessary to acquire it?

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337762)

Being a bigot makes you an ass. No one said anything about America until you brought up this garbage. By the way, the research mentioned was done at MIT one of the finest universities in the entire world (which is located in America...).

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337894)

How else are those other commenters supposed to discuss this problem if they don't mention America? If Europeans know about these maths, and Asians know of them, and even Australians like me know of them, but Americans don't, then the problem lies with the Americans, no?

In case you weren't aware, many of MIT's researchers, like many of America's greatest minds in the past, were foreign-born and foreign-trained well into adulthood. It's difficult to consider people "Americans" in terms of education when most of their training happened in Hungary, or Germany, or Russia or the USSR, or in the UK.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337982)

Haters gonna hate. Where people reside and make their contributions is ultimately the most important factor. Look at Einstein and how he was driven away from Germany and made all his contributions in America. America provides a world class university system where sharing information and performing important research is paramount.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338538)

It's a shame there isn't a -1 Misinformed. Most of Einstein's best work was done in Switzerland.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (4, Informative)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338546)

Haters gonna hate.

Bad idea to start with this overused cliche, which makes anyone spouting it sound like a tedious, unimaginative, bandwagon-jumping, meme-spouting 14-year-old trying to put across an unconvincing display of dismissive confidence, as well as being an obviously lame attempt at not actually addressing the original criticism.

Frankly, we'd be quite justified in not bothering to read the rest of what you said on the basis of those first three words of cliched drivel. But anyway...

Where people reside and make their contributions is ultimately the most important factor. Look at Einstein and how he was driven away from Germany and made all his contributions in America.

If, by "made all his contributions in America" you're implying that we have America to thank for all his work (including his most important), then you're absolutely wrong. The theories of special and general relativity were all written decades before he emigrated to the US.

That aside, not saying that I entirely disagree with what you said in general; ths US *has* been a valuable incubator for the creativity of foreign academics during the 20th century, which has arguably been to its own significant benefit.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (0)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338380)

Your self-righteousness about statistics while using an incredibly bad sample as proof proves that not only are you an ass, you are a dumbass.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (1, Informative)

Ravon Rodriguez (1074038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338398)

So, let's clarify your point of view: Americans can't do math, and any American's who can do math aren't really Americans. Did I get the gist of it? Bigot.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338514)

"By the way, the research mentioned was done at MIT one of the finest universities in the entire world (which is located in America...)."

Yeah, the guy from MIT, Evangelos Georgiadis has a real cowboy name.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337752)

No, he's complaining about the grammar, punctuation, and the irrelevance of the opening Christmas nonsense. He's not complaining about the math. A better summary made without even reading the article:

Evangelos Georgiades of MIT and Doron Zeilberger and Shalosh Ekhad of Rutgers have published a paper entitled, "How to Gamble, If You're in a Hurry." They consider previous work on gambling flawed because of theoreticians' reliance on the continuous Kolmogorov paradigm. Instead, they propose that money is not infinitely divisible and that its use in gambling is therefore better described by different algorithmic strategies involving what seems to be an advanced version of the Kelly criterion.

Ideas are nice, and math is beautiful, but clear English is necessary to convey information. The summary did not do that well.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (-1, Troll)

alreaud (2529304) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338750)

"English is necessary to convey information"
No, only in those countries where it is the native tongue. I'm bilingual. Does that mean that the mother tongue no longer conveys information? How is English necessary to convey information whereas German, Japanese, Spanish, or American don't suffice?

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338814)

Fine. Publish in Dutch. See how far that gets you. Enjoy never being read.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337764)

Are you an American, by any chance? I'm asking in all seriousness. Just because this submission makes no sense to you doesn't mean that it makes no sense to the rest of the world.

"Interesting since they their work applies an advanced version of what seems to be the Kelly criterion."

I think there was the mix of unusual concepts with the grammatically incorrect sentences that made it horrible editing. Usually, I'm annoyed that they link so many words to Wikipedia or such, but in this case, there was no linking anything to anything, other than the one article, and the description given in the submission is not proper English. So the complaints on editing are quite accurate. Or are you asserting that the quoted sentence above is proper English?

It's likely just that you were never exposed to what's actually pretty basic and common knowledge throughout the rest of the world.

You were too focused on being an ass that you missed the complaint about grammar being the primary one. Perhaps it would have been more approachable if it were properly edited. And no, they aren't "basic and common knowledge throughout the rest of the world." I'm in "the rest of the world" right now, and the first 5 people I asked about them never heard of any of them (couldn't even name the field they related to). So you are wrong on every point, and quite the ass about it as well.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338348)

What exactly is wrong with the sentence you've quoted? Are you just bitching because it's a sentence fragment? If so, stop being a pedant. Complain about grammar when clarity suffers, but when everything is perfectly understandable, it doesn't matter unless you're submitting a formal piece. In those cases, it's an issue of professionalism, which simply isn't a factor when submitting an article to blog.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (2, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338448)

What exactly is wrong with the sentence you've quoted?

You whine like a little bitch if someone doesn't know statistics as well as you, but can't recognize a non-sentence when you see one? You are the pedantic ass.

simply isn't a factor when submitting an article to blog.

You are an idiot. Nobody complained about the submission being flawed (other than the flaw carried through) but the complaint was about the editors not even editing a submission for basic English.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (4, Insightful)

Ravon Rodriguez (1074038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338508)

You can have the most brilliant ideas in the world, but if you convey them like an uneducated buffoon then that's exactly what you will appear to be. Proper grammar may be optional in casual conversation (LOL wuzzup d00d), but in a setting where the conveyance of knowledge is the primary goal you should strive to do your ideas justice by relating them in an intelligent way.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337958)

He's complaining about the horrible grammar and punctuation, and the weird christmas reference. This submission was horribly written and obviously no attempt was made to edit or proof read it before just slapping it on the front page.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338216)

He might be American, but you're either ignorant or an ass. READ:

"Interesting since they their work applies an advanced version of what seems to be the Kelly criterion."

In what dialect is "since they their work" a valid construct?

It's fun to bash Americans, but "yukiloo" should be ashamed to have submitted such unproofed tripe, and "samzenpus" should be further ashamed for putting it in the public view, unedited.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (1)

questioner (147810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338598)

Read my comment again. It's the *submission* I was complaining about, not the paper. And no, I'm not American. Furthermore, I'm a statistician, which is partially why I was interested enough to click on the link in the first place; I have no issues with the content of the paper itself, or its readability.

Parse this sentence:

In their paper 'How to gamble if you're in a hurry,' they present algorithmic strategies and reclaim the world of gambling, which they say has up till recently flourished on the continuous Kolmogorov paradigm by some sugary discrete code that could make us hopefully richer, if not wiser.

Up until the "world of gambling", it's reasonable, but beyond there it ceases making any sense. If the submitter had broken the sentence down into a couple of discrete thoughts, they might have gotten their synopsis across.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337718)

Gramatically looks fine. I see subjects, objects and verbs in all the right places. There are commas where they're not needed and no commas where they are, but comma rules are regularly broken. Just as s's is now considered acceptable (I consider it gross and a sign of mental fragility), comma rules aren't considered important any more outside of formal writing. Unless you know something about Slashdot the rest of us don't, formal writing doesn't really fit the description.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338010)

"Interesting since they their work applies an..."

You yours reading skill not so good.

(my error intentional for irony)

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (0)

Ravon Rodriguez (1074038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338522)

I think the confusion is in the meaning of the word applies; most people are reading it as a passive verb, but it is meant to be read as an active verb.

Re:Do you even bother to edit submissions anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338696)

Jesus Christ, slow down and read his post word for word. If you can't spot the error, you may in fact not actually know English.

Well.... (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337556)

The news story posted on Slashdot not that long ago on a casino successfully suing a gambler of all his winnings because the machine's system for preventing you from winning wasn't working tells me that the only paradigm in use is "give us your money... or else!"

Re:Well.... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337746)

If there really were a system that allowed for consistantly making a profit, you can be sure it'd work for about a week before the casinos found a countermeasure. Otherwise they'd be broke: News would spread very quickly, and soon professional gamblers would drive them to ruin.

Re:Well.... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337814)

Countermeasure: Two big guys grab you by the arms and escort you to the front door.

Re:Well.... (2, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337994)

The smart ones go work in the fancy financial industry.

That's the way to legally cheat, consistently make a profit, and not have your bones broken.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/24/business/24trading.html?_r=1 [nytimes.com]
http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/07/24/business/0724-webBIZ-trading.ready.html [nytimes.com]

And the betting limits are really high.

Re:Well.... (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338052)

If there really were a system that allowed for consistantly making a profit,

There it - it's called "open a casino."

There's also "become a lobbyist for some social evil (eg: big tobacco)."

But the number # 1 way is do as L. Ron Hubbard did with scientology - create your own religion.

Re:Well.... (1)

Hardhead_7 (987030) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337754)

Link?

Re:Well.... (2)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337974)

Well, there's this one
http://idle.slashdot.org/story/09/11/06/1638213/casino-denies-man-166-million-jackpot [slashdot.org]
but I don't think that's the one he's talking about. Casinos claiming "malfunctions" when you win is more common than you think. What is not as common as them claiming the same "malfunctions" when you lose, and voluntarily handing out money.

Re:Well.... (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337984)

You could run a search. Would be quicker. There've actually been a few stories. Here's what you get if you type "slot machine" into Slashdot's search engine (Ooooh! That's a complex thing to do!)

http://idle.slashdot.org/story/09/11/06/1638213/casino-denies-man-166-million-jackpot [slashdot.org]
http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/06/05/1828218/malfunction-costs-couple-11-million-slot-machine-jackpot [slashdot.org]
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/01/06/2246234/man-arrested-for-exploiting-error-in-slot-machines [slashdot.org]

Re:Well.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338764)

You could run a search. If you were precognizant that the story involves a slot machine (which aren't exclusive to casinos, not usually considered gambling and almost never at the center of a lawsuit) you might even find it that way.

However, if you're trying to find the story because you don't know already know everything about it, you might search for:

"casino sues" -> no matches.

"gambler loses" -> no matches.

"casino gambler" -> two matches: "Is the Apple App Store a Casino?" and "Computer-Based System To Crack Down On Casino Card Counters"

"casino winnings" -> two matches: "Beating Roulette With Computers & Lasers" and "EverQuest: What You Really Get From an Online Game"

So kindly take your condescending attitude and shove it.

Re:Well.... (0, Offtopic)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338422)

The news story posted on Slashdot not that long ago on a casino successfully suing a gambler of all his winnings because the machine's system for preventing you from winning wasn't working tells me that the only paradigm in use is "give us your money... or else!"

That's why the only true statistical guide to casino gambling would be very short. One word, in fact: "Don't".

You want to gamble, look to parimutuel betting or at least a good sports book where you know you're going to pay a fixed percentage.

I find it simply astounding that American laws find casino gambling or lotteries (mis-named "gaming") acceptable, but refuse adamantly to legalize even a relatively harmless herb like marijuana because it has a mild euphoric affect. It shows a) the godlike powers of corporations in America and b) the ridiculous ongoing effect of stifling puritanism in American life. And not just regarding recreational drugs. You cannot show a nipple on broadcast television, yet Americans consume more pornography than the population of any other developed nation. I guess the fact that the heavily Christian "red" states consume the most pornography should not be surprising. The more you repress publicly, the more the pornographers (and abusers) go to work privately. You end up with football coaches who are revered as priest/kings while they rape children behind closed doors, leading to institutional protection of said child-rapists. Slavish devotion to "hard work=financial success" leading to the enormous profits of a "gaming" industry that is designed to defraud. An entire "free market" economy designed around institutionalized fraud.

Nobody should be surprised that the false front of this economic empire is starting to wear thin, showing the flimsy foundation underneath. It was never real.

Re:Well.... (2)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338492)

Was that the RNG (Random Number Generator) on an arcade unit which had shorted out, so that every time it was rebooted, it would deal the same set of cards like something out of Groundhog Day? He just memorized the order the cards were dealt and repeatedly played that machine.

Then there is card-counting at Poker which simply involves keeping track of the ratio of high-cards and low-cards which have been dealt.

More than two decades ago, Trivial Pursuit arcade units were extremely popular in bars and restaurants. Then over a period of months, owners were concerned by a decline in earnings despite the fact the machines were still extremely popular. Turns out punters were going to the libraries, reading up the encylopedias, and acquiring enough knowledge to win up to £100 each time.

Not going to work so well (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338646)

In terms of a machine that malfunctions and pays out more than it should, it'll be noticed quickly these days (they are all networked and watched) and you'll have to give the money back. Cheating isn't allowed. I don't mean that is a casino rule, I mean legally. If you find a way to game the system, the casino is in their legal rights to not pay you winnings.

In terms of counting cards they solve this problem by frequent reshuffling and using multiple decks of cards. Try effectively counting cards if there are 6 decks in use at once and the reshuffle after ever 4 game or something (remember there are machines to do it that make it efficient).

Uncle diddles (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337566)

Whos tail do I have to pull to get some gay cock around here?

Re:Uncle diddles (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337592)

not sure this is the right place for gay cock... on the other hand, it just might be

Re:Uncle diddles (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337632)

Why? Is there something wrong with you? Is your brain defective?

Re:Uncle diddles (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337774)

Whos tail do I have to pull to get some gay cock around here?

It's really hard t find gay cock because when farmer's find out their cock is gay, they kill it and eat it. At lest a gay hen will lay eggs so they don't kill those.

Or try this....

Gay cock? What is a *gay cock like - are they so happy that they crow all the time?

Gay: merry - cheerful - jolly - joyful - blithe - mirthful - as in the "gay" in Jingle Bells.

You didn't think that in Jingle Bells that "gay apparel" meant dressing up like a member of the Village People did you? [google.com]

Actual article at ... (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337570)

Re:Actual article at ... (3, Informative)

methamorph (950510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337640)

Actually the actual article is at http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1112/1112.1645v1.pdf [arxiv.org]

Re:Actual article at ... (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337650)

yeah ... sorry slashdotters .... i got lost in a link maze ... hang the guy who wrote the article. ;)

Re:Actual article at ... (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337728)

You are lost in a maze of twisty URLs, all the same.

Re:Actual article at ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337968)

You are likely to be eaten by GNU.

Intresting but. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337572)

But my Flux'DE'Capactdur concept that allows for fowrd and reverse insight really makes either the Kelly criterion or the Kolmogorov theories irrelevant anyway,

Conclusions (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337584)

The three authors completely agree on the mathematics, but they have somewhat different views about the
significance of this project. Here they are.

Evangelos Georgiadis’ Conclusion
We provided a playful yet algorithmic glimpse to a field that has up till recently flourished on the Kolmogorov,
measure-theoretic paradigm [as evidenced by the work of Dubins and Savage [4] (see [7] for more recent
developments]. The advent and omnipresence of computers, however, ushered an era of symbol crunching
and number crunching, where a few lines of code can give rise to powerful algorithms. And it is the ouput
of algorithms that usually provides insight (and inspiration) for conjectures and theorems. Those, in turn,
can then be proven in their respective measure-theoretic settings. Additionally, a computational approach
lends itself easily to more complex scenarios that would otherwise be considered pathological phenomena
(and would be fiendishly time-consuming to prove – even for immortals like Kolmogorov and von Neumann).

Doron Zeilberger’s Conclusion
Traditional mathematicians like Dubins and Savage use traditional proof-based mathematics, and also work
in the framework of continuous probability theory using the pernicious Kolmogorov, measure-theoretic, par-
adigm. This approach was fine when we didn’t have computers, but we can do so much more with both
symbol-crunching and number-crunching, in addition to naive simulation, and develop algorithms and write
software, that ultimately is a much more useful (and rewarding) activity than “proving” yet-another-theorem
in an artificial and fictional continuous, measure-theoretic, world, that is furthermore utterly boring.

Shalosh B. Ekhad’s Conclusion
These humans, they are so emotional! That’s why they never went very far.

correction (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337588)

Shalosh B. Ekhad is a computer, not a computer scientist.

Conclusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337608)

For a choice of timid r bold play in an unfair case (most real-world),

With timid play, the gambler makes a small constant bet on each game until
she is ruined or reaches the target. This turns out to be a very bad strategy in
unfair games, but does have the advantage of a relatively large expected number
of games. If you play this strategy, you will almost certainly be ruined, but at
least you get to gamble for a while.

With bold play, the gambler bets her entire fortune or what she needs to
reach the target, whichever is smaller. This is an optimal strategy in the unfair
case; no strategy can do better. But it's very quick! If you play this strategy,
there's a good chance that your gambling will be over after just a few games
(often just one!).

Re:Conclusion (4, Interesting)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337642)

Your summary accurately describes the definition of gambling as opposed to investing.

Gambling is placing money at risk with an expectation of loss.
Investing is placing money at risk with an expectation of gain.

I hope I'm not the only one who finds it odd that the state lotteries they sold the public by claiming "The funds will benefit education" would put themselves out of business if people were actually learning math. ;)

Re:Conclusion (4, Insightful)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337684)

You don't have to be bad at math to play the lottery. A buck for a ticket is a small price to pay for the entertainment you get when the numbers come up. Especially if your friends play, it can be a social event when the numbers are announced.

Re:Conclusion (4, Interesting)

TrekkieGod (627867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338428)

You don't have to be bad at math to play the lottery. A buck for a ticket is a small price to pay for the entertainment you get when the numbers come up. Especially if your friends play, it can be a social event when the numbers are announced.

Well, honestly, you play correctly. If you're not actually expecting to win, but you find some entertainment in sitting there with your friends waiting for the numbers to come up, more power to you. I don't think you represent the majority, though. I think most of the people playing the lottery are people who spend money that they could actually use for more practical things, in the hope of moving up from poverty. I don't have numbers to back this feeling up, but I do see those local news stories every time the jackpot goes up into the $200 million range with poor schmoes buying hundreds of dollars worth of tickets. Congratulations, dude: you just increased your odds of winning from nearly impossible to still nearly impossible.

The above is not an argument against the lottery, btw. I don't think the government should be in the business of protecting people from their own bad decisions. It is, however, an argument for better public education. People would make less bad decisions if they had the tools to analyze a situation better.

Re:Conclusion (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337730)

nope. Gambling is for an expectation of pleasure. And with an external locus of control.

Re:Conclusion (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337862)

If you derive pleasure from losing money, send me $20 and I'll respond with an email telling you whether or not you won $40. ;)

Re:Conclusion (4, Funny)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338220)

If you derive pleasure from losing money, send me $20 and I'll respond with an email telling you whether or not you won $40. ;)

Are you referring to the upcoming Facebook IPO, or is this a new scam of your own creation :)

Re:Conclusion (3, Interesting)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338464)

Reminds me of a successful scam I read about, from back in the late 1950s or thereabouts. They put an ad in the classifieds of many papers, saying simply "Send your dollars to GEB, PO BOX 123". Lots of people thought this was some charity and sent money. The Postal Inspectors (US Postal Service police) came after the guy, charging him with mail fraud. His successful defense was that he made no promises, only asked people for money.

AFAIK this particular trick was quashed in the future, as newspapers refused to take ads like that.

Re:Conclusion (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337806)

I hope I'm not the only one who finds it odd that the state lotteries they sold the public by claiming "The funds will benefit education" would put themselves out of business if people were actually learning math.

Or that anyone that knows the definition of "fungible" or "general fund" would already know the lotteries *can't* benefit education. But the lottery isn't only for bad at math. Where else do you have a non-zero chance of making millions from a $1 investment within a week's time?

Re:Conclusion (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338482)

Considering that your chance of winning is somewhat less than that of being hit by lightning, I'd say there are lots of ways with similar odds. (Walking across the street and getting gently struck by a car driven by)|(Doing a good turn for)|(Some other event involving) a rich elderly person who makes you his/her sole heir is probably at least as likely.

Re:Conclusion (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338604)

a rich elderly person who makes you his/her sole heir is probably at least as likely.

I think you are wrong. Unless by "doing a good turn for" you mean "giving lots of blowjobs to" and you are Anna Nicole Smith, it never happens. You'd be more likely to be hit by a movie director and cast in a new movie from that encounter, which, to my knowledge, has never happened either. At least someone wins the lottery every week or so, that's a "sure thing" in that *someone* will win it. So why not you? Jumping out in front of expensive cars as a retirement plan and giving blowjobs to whoever passes by doesn't sound as desirable.

Re:Conclusion (3, Insightful)

FunkSoulBrother (140893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337970)

Explain how people learning math would put the lottery out of business. People are gambling for an adrenaline rush, not to satisfy some mathematical equation. Guess what, some people posion their bodies with alcohol on occasion to enjoy the side effects. Some of them even have extensive education in biology and medicine.

Re:Conclusion (1)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338188)

Explain how people learning math would put the lottery out of business. People are gambling for an adrenaline rush, not to satisfy some mathematical equation. Guess what, some people posion their bodies with alcohol on occasion to enjoy the side effects. Some of them even have extensive education in biology and medicine.

People who drink alcohol live longer than people who don't. It's a fact: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2017200,00.html [time.com]

And this this study includes heavy drinkers that pull down the average life span of general alcohol consumers...

Re:Conclusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338198)

Thankfully, the other people who've replied are all in agreement that you're a twat. I've got two degrees in maths and I play the lottery, not least because I know the difference between next to no chance, and no chance. There is a vanishingly small chance that my £1 will net me £5m. There is the likelihood that in reality I'll lose that £1. In between, there is the "reasonable" chance that it will get me £10. Given that the outlay is small and I'm happy to accept the most likely result - that I end up with nothing - I'm happy to play the lottery.

Re:Conclusion (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338200)

Your summary accurately describes the definition of gambling as opposed to investing.

Gambling is placing money at risk with an expectation of loss.
Investing is placing money at risk with an expectation of gain.

So, pumping money into a [commodities|housing|internet|gold] bubble really is considered investing then? I guess this explains a lot (and yes, this is a slam on the sheeple not the parent).

Re:Conclusion (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338496)

So, pumping money into a [commodities|housing|internet|gold] bubble really is considered investing then? I guess this explains a lot (and yes, this is a slam on the sheeple not the parent).

This depends solely on the strategy you employ when investing in securities. If you sell the farm to buy shares in ABC co. because the neighbor, the guy at work, Bob the stock broker, etc said it was "a really hot stock, a can't miss oppourtunity." well, then I'd say you're an idiot, you are gambling, and it's probably going to bite you because you don't know how the market works. [This is especially true of the housing bubble. I was working construction at the time, and people were having brand new houses built for them, using no-doc loans, and putting them up for sale without ever moving in, in an attempt to earn 6% or so. Crazy. Houses are long term investments, not slot machines.]

That said, if you do some basic analysis, and all factors indicate the market is growing, and you buy into it, and you use stop-loss orders to limit your risk, and you sell when all analysis says the run up is over, then you are investing, because you are doing the work required to shift the otherwise close to 50/50 odds in your favor to the point where you gain a mathematical advantage.

Re:Conclusion (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338568)

If you like to gamble, I tell you I'm your man
You win some, lose some, it's - all - the same to me
The pleasure is to play, it makes no difference what you say
I don't share your greed, the only card I need is
The Ace Of Spades
The Ace Of Spades

Playing for the high one, dancing with the devil,
Going with the flow, it's all a game to me,
Seven or Eleven, snake eyes watching you,
Double up or quit, double stakes or split,
The Ace Of Spades
The Ace Of Spades

You know I'm born to lose, and gambling's for fools,
But that's the way I like it baby,
I don't wanna live forever,
And don't forget the joker!

Pushing up the ante, I know you've got to see me,
Read 'em and weep, the dead man's hand again,
I see it in your eyes, take one look and die,
The only thing you see, you know it's gonna be,
The Ace Of Spades
The Ace Of Spades

Re:Conclusion (2)

Tormodular (2512674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338822)

Plenty of people play a lottery, even knowing they can expect a loss (my mum is a maths teacher, yet still enjoys playing the lottery on occassion). Expectation is not always the best metric to use when thinking about games of chance (for example, see the St. Petersburg Paradox: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Petersburg_paradox [wikipedia.org] ). I'm perhaps playing devil's advocate a bit here, but consider a person who earns a low wage and has no possibility of ever increasing this wage except by winning a low probability game of chance that costs a very small nominal amount to play and entails an expected loss with each play (ie a lottery). If the cost of play is a small proportion of weekly earnings, it seems reasonable (to me at least) that from a utility perspective, the person would choose to play the lottery. The key point is that if the payout is large enough, then the person will stop playing if they win (hopefully), so the concept of expectation (ie, number of plays going to infinity) is not necessarily the right metric.

The only winning move (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337626)

is not to play.

Re:The only winning move (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337672)

Nonsense. Be the bank.

Re:The only winning move (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337912)

That's a form of not playing.

Re:The only winning move (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338194)

No, it's playing. You buy stock in the casinos/hotel operators in Vegas, and it's still gambling. The odds are better; but you can still lose.

Not a Useful Guide (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337636)

The paper is about how much to bet (your strategy) on a given round if you have x dollars and want to win N dollars. This is problematic for two reasons.

First, their method only works when the probability of winning is >0.5, which never happens in any real casino.

Second, almost nobody really bets this way. Most people don't go to a casino looking to win N dollars. Instead, they go to the casino hoping to play for time T without losing more than N dollars (although people might not be up front about that goal).

Another problem is that they assume that the probabiilty is constant with each round. That's true for some games (roulette), but not for others (blackjack).

Re:Not a Useful Guide (2)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337794)

Mod parent up.

First, their method only works when the probability of winning is >0.5, which never happens in any real casino.

This is not quite true. In blackjack, there are times when you have p>0.5. That's the point of counting cards. Some games, like poker, are really games of skill. Others, like horse racing, involve non-random aspects.

Another problem is that they assume that the probability is constant with each round. That's true for some games (roulette), but not for others (blackjack).

Another thing that makes the paper not really applicable to real life is that it assumes you can choose to bet any amount. In reality, if you're in a casino playing blackjack, one of the most common ways for the management to detect that you're counting cards and throw you out is that they notice that you're varying your bets according to a certain pattern.

It would be interesting to see a realistic plan for winning money by gambling. Poker is probably the best game, but there are some realistic issues with finding a game in which (a) the other players have large amounts of money, (b) the other players are worse than you are, (c) there is no money being raked off by the house, and (d) there is no possibility of collusion (which I believe is quite hard to guard against in online poker).

Re:Not a Useful Guide (2)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338530)

Another thing that makes the paper not really applicable to real life is that it assumes you can choose to bet any amount. In reality, if you're in a casino playing blackjack, one of the most common ways for the management to detect that you're counting cards and throw you out is that they notice that you're varying your bets according to a certain pattern.

I don't frequent casinos (there are few places more boring to me), but my understanding is that they generally allow, if not encourage card counting because most folks do it badly, and lose. The _hope_ of winning brings people in with their latest 'guaranteed winning scheme'. Card counting is hard, and as I understand it casinos have mostly changed their shuffling schedule and other things to make it harder. If, despite all these impediments, you appear to be doing too well, I suspect that they start to wonder if you have a wire of some kind. Whether that is true or not, I think that they will generally just gently escort you out - and keep pictures for future reference, in case you show up repeatedly at several casinos and do the same thing. But it's important for the casinos to keep enough winners around to encourage people to come. I've read that one out of four visitors to Las Vegas leaves a winner. If there were no winners, there would be no visitors. Since big winners make more news, that draws more visitors. So even an occasional big winner is a good thing for them.

Re:Not a Useful Guide (4, Informative)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337866)

Yeah. The title of the paper is a bit misleading.

They are studying the case of some betting game with a fixed probability of winning p (with p>1/2) and a fixed 1:1 payout, using a discrete model of money, with no maximum bet, a minimum bet of $1, and all bets being constrained to a multiple of $1.

It is already known that if you enter with x dollars and you have a target amount of N, your best strategy is to always bet the minimum. Needless to say always betting the minimum can take forever, so even under this very unlikely set of circumstances, you would not want to actually follow that strategy.

So instead they introduce a round limit T, and introduce software that solves the relevant dynamic programming recurrence determine what you should bet given the probability p, your current balance x', your desired amount N, and the remaining number of rounds until the loan shark kills you T'.

Max loss is usually full bankroll (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337914)

Second, almost nobody really bets this way. Most people don't go to a casino looking to win N dollars. Instead, they go to the casino hoping to play for time T without losing more than N dollars (although people might not be up front about that goal).

People usually go to a casino with as much money as they are willing to lose. I also think the idea of spending at least a given time wile losing a set amount is a bit absurd unless it involves the chance of winning.

You could make a case for a fun casino evening involving maximizing your chances of winning N dollars within time T1 while still not going broke before time T2. A strategy of proportional betting (I assume the paper does that) will limit your chances of going broke regardless.

Re:Not a Useful Guide (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338182)

First, their method only works when the probability of winning is >0.5, which never happens in any real casino.

Against the house, no. Against other poker players for example, it's possible if you've identified weaknesses in the other players. But even if you've identified a 52% chance to win, how hard should you play to extract the most possible money while not getting yourself eliminated by bad hands? After all you still have a 48% chance of losing. The blinds going up means you have time pressure, you can't keep playing tiny bets forever. Not that I think poker players think this way, but it doesn't seem that useless.

Re:Not a Useful Guide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38338438)

52% to win in tournament poker is insanely high, and basically no one is that good. Remember that when you win you don't win 1:1, it's more like 5:1 or better. 52% of $400 (a typical 1st place prize on $100 fee) = $108 profit per tournament played. If you meant 52% per hand that's even more crushing.

Re:Not a Useful Guide (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338234)

You're looking at the constraints wrong. Most games can fit the assumptions quite easily. For example, if you think of the rounds not during a game, but as repeated iterations of the same game.

Take blackjack. Every time you play the game with a fresh set of cards, the ultimate probability of winning is the same, provided you use the same strategy each time. That counts as one round, with a winning probability p.

Also, you're wrong about p >0.5, there are strategies for p 0.5 .

Mathematics results are usually phrased in very general / simple terms that aren't necessarily intended to fit a particular situation. You're expected to look around and recognize when a situation you come across fits.

No kidding (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338624)

My guide to making the most money gambling: Don't.

In any casino the odds are always, ALWAYS stacked against you. They don't hide this fact, either. The odds are published and you can easily notice that the payout is less than the probability of getting something. They are in business to make money, it has to be this way or they'd go broke.

So don't gamble to make money. If you enjoy the thrill of it, if it entertains you, and you can afford it, then by all means. But don't try and find some way to gamble "quickly" that will make you money because it won't. Any money made is purely luck and your strategy of what you bet on will play very little in to it.

Play the game for enjoyment.

Just in Time for the Holidays! (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337666)

How to lose all your money gambling during the holidays in a bad economy because you don't understand multivariate calculus. Accompanied by a Maple package on a separate site. Note: Do not attempt to eat the maple package after you've gambled away your grocery money.

Note about Ekhad (5, Interesting)

werdnam (1008591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337668)

I'm not sure if the original submitter had his tongue in cheek by describing the co-author Ekhad as a "computer scientist." Just in case he didn't, note that Shalosh B. Ekhad is actually Zeilberger's computer. Since most of Zeilberger's research depends heavily on computations, and (I think) as a nod to some of his philosophical positions, Zeilberger usually lists his computer as a coauthor on his papers. So I guess Ekhad is a computer scientist, but not quite in the way we usually mean. :)

Re:Note about Ekhad (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38337824)

shalosh b. ekhad is Hebrew for 3-in-1

casinos love people with systems (0)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337688)

These dolts seems to be presenting a "system" that they believe will give you a very high chance of winning if you play a lot of minimal bets. If they really believe that they should get out of academia and into the real world and do some "research" in actual casinos. If only I could bet on the casinos and against Cornell University math nerds.

Re:casinos love people with systems (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337776)

Sounds like the powers-of-two system. It allows you to shift the odds to where you will almost certainly make a small amount of money... but run a small risk of losing a huge amount. The mean return is still the same as random betting, but the distribution can be to the advantage of some gamblers.

Guide for better than even odds? (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337750)

According to the paper they are (initially) using a p=3/5 for an even return which to me is a hypothetical or illegal situation.

Am i missing something here or is this just a paper for if you find your self in lucky situation where the house is loss leading?

How do I counted cards (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338888)

In blackjack, watch the cards closely. Every time a 2-6 is dealt, add 1. Every time a 10, jack, queen, king, or ace is dealt, subtract 1. For example, if someone is dealt blackjack (A-10), subtract 2. If the running total since the last shuffle is at least four times the number of decks left in the shoe, the house is loss leading.

Shalosh B. Ekhad (4, Interesting)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 2 years ago | (#38337838)

Shalosh B. Ekhad is not a person. From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

Zeilberger is known for crediting his computer "Shalosh B. Ekhad" as a co-author ("Shalosh" and "Ekhad" mean "Three" and "One" in Hebrew respectively, referring to the AT&T 3B1 model).

Gambling explained (1)

cjeze (596987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338120)

A fool and his money are easily parted

"Researchers Create Statistical Guide to Gambling" (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338714)

...namely, that (1) Statistically, the house always wins overall and (2) If you come up with a system that actually stands a chance of changing this they'll (a) change the rules, (b) break your legs (or kill you or whatever...) and/or kick you out, (c) accuse you of breaking *their* rules, such that the effect is that... statistically, the house always wins overall.
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