The Eudaemonic Pie
|Author||Thomas A. Bass|
|Media type||Print, e-book|
|Preceded by||The Predictors|
The book focuses on a group of University of California, Santa Cruz, physics graduate students (known as the Eudaemons) who in the late 1970s and early 1980s designed and employed miniaturized computers, hidden in specially modified platform soled shoes, to help predict the outcome of casino roulette games. The players knew, presumably from the earlier work of Shannon and Thorp, that roulette wheels obey Newtonian physics, and that by capturing the state of the ball and wheel and taking into account peculiarities of the particular wheels being played they could increase their odds of selecting a winning number to gain a 44 percent advantage over the casinos.
After six difficult years, during which the effort of nearly two dozen people had been sucked into the project, an approach was developed that relied on teams made up of two people, a data gatherer and a bettor. It worked so well that small, experimental bets placed in minor league casinos began to pay off consistently. The group them revamped its technology, shrinking the computer, receivers, transmitter and keyboard involved to the point where everything could be worn in the players' shoes. Then they launched the first major raid on Vegas. At this point, inevitably, a technical problem emerged - and this time the Eudaemonians just threw up their hands and walked away. Mr. Bass plays all this straight, as though fate had reserved the toughest problems for last as a technical coup de grace. But on the evidence he presents this last difficulty seems the most trivial. The problem was that static in the casino drowned out the radio link with which the gatherer transmitted the computer's predictions to the bettor. That may sound severe, but in fact all that was being transmitted was a number between 1 and 8. Maybe Mr. Bass does not explain the problem properly, but it is unimaginable to me that a group shown to be this ingenious could not think of another way to transmit such a tiny amount of information.
—Review by The New York Times
A British edition was published under the title The Newtonian Casino.
The major players in The Eudaemonic Pie are also featured in a sequel by the same author, The Predictors, about their subsequent careers in the world of finance.
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