The Perfect Bet
Adam Kucharski

The perfect bet . . . which degenerate gambler wouldn't want to make one of those regularly - one that a carries a 100% probablility of being successful, returns a massive true odds plus payoff, is collectable without penalty and is offered by a party that isn't going to welch on the deal? Don't you just wish?

As well as it being a dream punt for those who do, it's also the title of this book which can be summarised nicely by its tagline "How science and maths are taking the luck out of gambling". No Trades Descriptions Act violations there. And you can tell that the author is English straightaway as he refers to "maths" in the plural!

This one definitely gets my vote. The introduction sets the scene well for the rest of the book and had me hooked early on. In the similar vein the subsequent chapters go on to discuss:

  • Studies that prove, beyond any doubt, that the game of roulette is far from random, and not only is it not random but by taking account of the physics, and measuring the variables involved, the outcomes are predictable,

  • Professior Ed Thorpe's work in studying the game of blackjack, that culminated in him publishing his ground-breaking book "Beat The Dealer" in 1966 - and the casino industry's response once it realised that clever people could (beat the game that is),

  • In more recent times the development of 'bots and automated algorthms that have become a key aspect of day-to-day trading on the financial markets (and how they screw up sometimes),

  • The development of data gathering platforms that are able to collate and analyse vast reams of sports related data - that can be used to inform future strategies for players and managers and betting decisions by punters,

  • How AI in robotic software is able to "learn" and increase its range of responses, and thereby adapt effectively to changes in an environment (poker 'bot software is used as an example).

In actual fact I rate The Perfect Bet as such a good read there's little to say other than it's definitely one for those discerning punters who endeavour to enjoy positive results that are down to a bit more than simply pot luck. If that's you then do get hold of a copy and decide for yourself. Do note however that if you're looking for that elusive, foolproof winning system or betting method, that'll guarantee a positive stream of results going forward, or you believe that continuing to bet more will eventually bring about a change of heart of the variance fairy and a life-changing win, this probably isn't for you. Anyone who believes in the gamblers fallacy should probably give it a miss too.

Adam Kucharski is an Associate Professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. In 2012 he was the winner of the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize. He has also written The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread - and Why They Stop, which was published earlier this year, in addition to a number of academic studies.

May 2020.

Footnote:   Adam Kurcharski's lectures have been published on YouTube by the Royal Institution (just search on his name), with The Perfect Bet being recorded shortly after his book was published in 2016 and being fifty seven minutes in duration. Well worth watching.