Joined: Dec 22, 2009
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December 24th, 2015 at 1:39:20 PM permalink
This is my third entry of my series of book reviews: By The Playbook

The last entry was for a memoir of gambling addiction and can be found here: http://wizardofvegas.com/forum/off-topic/general/24264-by-the-playbook-2/

God Doesn't Shoot Craps by Richard Armstrong is not a memoir this time but a fictional account of someone who discovers a winning Craps System. I had never heard of this book until Amazon recommended it and was happy I chose to purchase it. The prose is brisk so you feel like it is a quick read while clocking in at over 300 pages you don't feel cheated either.

As almost everyone dreams of finding that holy grail system that can overcome the house edge, I'm surprised no one has thought of writing a book like this earlier. I never heard of the author before but Richard Armstrong clearly knows and understands his subject matter. Inside this novel, you will find treatises covering quantum mechanics, the existence of God, an examination of Albert Einstein's inability to come to grips with new science (the title references a quote from Einstein "God doesn't play dice with the universe") as well as explorations of how casino marketing works and even strip clubs. Of course, a dissemination of the game of Craps, odds on winning and systems are included.

The story is not unique -- remember Whoopie Goldberg in "Ghost" plays a scam artist who conducts séances and to her own surprise discovers she can converse with a real ghost -- the underlying plot is pretty much the same here. Our main character, Danny Pellegrino is a huckster who sells gambling systems knowing full well they don't work. When he runs out of systems, he purchases someone's system and with their permission uses his network to distribute (the system creator gets a cut and enjoys the extra sales).

Danny wants to make certain he fully understands the new system in case he has to field questions from his customer base so he goes to the Villagio hotel and casino in Atlantic City to play the system as a learning experience (I'm certain this is a stand-in for the Borgata - since one of the casino hosts becomes a shady character in the book perhaps that's the reason for the fictional location).

To Danny's surprise, the system actually works and makes him a lot of money. Only problem is, he's already received thousands of purchases to fulfill. Who would give away a truly winning system -- for $39.95?

This sets in motion a series of events that include betrayal, murder, mayhem, a mafia boss who quotes all the characters from "The Godfather", a shady casino host and even shadier U.S. postal inspector.

It's all in good fun, the book is called a divine comedy and is modeled after the trilogy by Dante Alighieri. My only real complaint is the end of the book attempts to pull a "Chronicles of Narnia" by couching Christian themes within the context of an enjoyable story so less discerning readers won't realize they have been preached to (Some people refer to this trick as a "Davey and Goliath" referring to the Sunday morning Claymation about a boy and his dog which did the same trick in the seventies.)

As for the winning system itself? It is clearly explained and attributed to Dr. Juan Parrondo of Madrid. He is a real doctor and his creation, Parrondo's Paradox is a real deal. Basically, it states that by playing two losing propositions in alternating sequences, you can create a winning system. You can read about it here:

Both the author of this novel and Parrondo himself decry the ability to use this paradox in either gambling or stock picks so before you get too excited, the novel is a work of fiction. After all, who would really give away a winning system... for $24.95?
For Whom the bus tolls; The bus tolls for thee
Joined: Aug 31, 2010
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December 24th, 2015 at 2:05:33 PM permalink
I'm sure you already know this, but Parrondo's Paradox isn't actually a paradox, at least not with respect to actual casino games. The "games" used in the Paradox are not games any casino could ever feasibly spread. One of them is "if you have an even amount of money in your bankroll, your next bet is +EV." Astute gamblers would simply never bet unless their bankroll were even.

Put another way, the "paradox" only exists when the amount of your bankroll is a factor in the rules of the game. There are precisely zero casino games that operate that way, for obvious reasons.
"In my own case, when it seemed to me after a long illness that death was close at hand, I found no little solace in playing constantly at dice." -- Girolamo Cardano, 1563

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