A Man For All Markets, by Edward O Thorp.
A few thoughts on this book – a book definitely of the proverbial two halves.
The first half is very autobiographical. We learn of Edward’s childhood and his developing ability in mathematics. This leads on to trying to figure out the odds in winning in games like blackjack and baccarat. How card counting techniques can help to move the odds in the player’s favour (and in turn getting ‘asked to leave!’ from various Las Vegas casinos). Then on to the roulette wheel and timing the ball’s rotation in order to again move the odds towards the player’s advantage. (And again being made rather unwelcome in the casinos.) All of this was done not so much to become rich, but to show that the system could be broken.
There is then the move on to applying his mathematical skills to quantitative analysis of the world of finance. Of setting up various investment vehicles and hedge funds. In this case making a considerable amount of money through these various stock-market ventures, both for himself and his clients. There’s also the calling-out of fraudsters like Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme.
This makes for some great reading, even if sometimes it does read a bit like ‘look what I did, aren’t I clever’.
If the book had ended here it would have made for a great read. However it’s as if the publishers wanted a bigger page count, so he expand it out. This second half did not impress me. It was rather like reading a poor quality text book reviewing the general American financial system (with the emphasis on the American system). A shame really as it left finishing the book with a negative feeling.
Despite my thoughts on the second half, I must look out for more from this author.