A Man for All Markets by Edward Thorp

This book is all about a math professor turned blackjack player turned hedge fund manager and the interesting things that he achieved in life. He was the author of Beat the Dealer, the first book to describe a winning strategy for playing blackjack in a casino.

This book goes chronologically through the author’s life beginning when he was a little child. Before he got to college, the author was very interested in science and mathematics and used his knowledge to play practical jokes on people. The book describes several of his jokes and his varied interests as a teenager. This part of the book reminds me of Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! due to the varied interests that the author describes.

The author explains that he did not listen when he was told something was not possible, which helped him to find winning strategies at the casino. This part of the book is very interesting because he goes through his thought process when generating his ideas. It goes on to describe how he tested the strategy and the immediate success he experienced. He was so successful that the casinos came up with their own strategies to combat his techniques, such as using multiple decks at one time and shuffling the deck well before the last cards were played. The book also describes his efforts to figure out how to beat roulette.

The second half of the book is about his experiences on Wall Street as a hedge fund manager. This section of the book was interesting but I think it was too long. It describes his efforts to develop a strategy that limits the potential of losses by using arbitrage. Arbitrage by definition is the purchase of two different securities to guarantee a profit from the inefficiencies of the open market.

Overall, I enjoyed the first half of the book much more than the second half of the book. I debated placing this book on level 1 but ultimately decided that the second half of the book drags on too much and placed it on level 2. If you liked this book, you should check out my review of Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! due to the similarities in the style.

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