The Pequod Review:
Edward Thorp has had an extraordinary, almost Keynes-like career that involves success in a wide variety of fields, including mathematical theory, finance, and (most famously) blackjack. His book Beat the Dealer, published in 1966, was one of the first books to show how to beat the casino at blackjack, and remains a card-counting strategy that few have improved upon. What was especially intelligent about the book is Thorp’s creation of a simple but “good enough” counting system (using only ones and zeroes) that can easily be used by recreational players in distraction-filled gambling environments.
Thorp's impressive memoir A Man for all Markets covers this and many of his other accomplishments. These include: creating a wearable device to beat the casino at roulette, identifying Bernie Madoff’s unrealistic returns for a client 15 years before the SEC did, developing an options pricing formula pre-Black Scholes (for which others, but not Thorp, would later receive the Nobel Prize), and creating a system to capitalize on mispriced warrants that would be used when Thorp successfully launched the one of the first quant hedge funds. Through it all, Thorp has deep insights on investing and human psychology, as well as an engaging and playful curiosity about the world. Highly recommended.