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# 6. Is this Bum any Good?

Every morning at 2AM, as professors sleep and graduate students arrive to pull all-nighters, my computer diligently makes the rounds of the websites of all of the major frontons, downloading the latest schedules and results and then running these files through Dario's parsing programs. After a few months of retrieval we had built a large-enough collection of jai-alai data to justify some serious analysis. Our goal was to use all this data to measure the relative abilities of jai-alai players, and incorporate this information into our Monte Carlo simulation to make customized predictions for each match.

 I hope you have enjoyed this excerpt from Calculated Bets: Computers, Gambling, and Mathematical Modeling to Win!, by Steven Skiena, copublished by Cambridge University Press and the Mathematical Association of America. 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 system. 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! This book is available in both hardcover and paperback.

Steve Skiena
2001-06-04