This is a freshman seminar on optimal play in casino games, or "How to gamble, if you must" (from the title of the 1965 classic book on stochastic processes by Lester Dubins and Leonard Savage). We introduce some basic concepts in gambling theory, and survey some of the more popular casino games, considering questions such as: What are the best plays in a casino (where the house edge is minimal)? What factors determine how much you should bet? How large does your bankroll need to be? What are the chances that ultimately, you will be "ruined," and how long will it take? Do "betting systems" work? In the end, students learn the unfortunate truth that the odds are almost always stacked against the player (which means you will likely lose money, and eventually, all of it).
Instructor: Joseph Pasquale Books: MENSA Guide to Casino Gambling Winning Ways Andrew Brisman Sterling Publishing, 1999 Bringing Down the House Ben Mezrich Free Press, 2002