September 26, 2007

Life: The Odds

"Life: The Odds" by Gregory Baer is an amusing read. By the author's own admission it is aimed at the sitting on the toilet crowd [xi], which we later learn could increase your chance of getting hemorrhoids [141]. The author does a good of teaching how to think about odds. He covers the probability of an event happening and in the section on money how those differ from the payout odds in games of chance. The book is billed as humor and unfortunately the author frequently stretches too hard to incorporate a joke. Which is my primary compliant with the book.

There were some interesting nuggets sprinkled throughout the book that caught my eye:

  • Massachusetts has the lowest or nearest divorce rate per one thousand residents in the US. [23] CDC Stats
  • Keno is a big racket for casinos. Looking at "house percentage", casinos take in 25-30% of all money for Keno versus 0.5 to 11.11% for different craps bets. [213-215] Keno returns
  • Coins aren't really fair. Experiments with pennies have shown flipping favors heads (50.05-50.70%) and spinning favors tails (52.35-55.00%). [240] Robin Lock Data

Overall the book is a fun read and great material for cocktail party discussions.

Tags: books odds