A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market

Edward O. Thorp. Random House, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-1-40-006796-1
Thorp (Beat the Dealer), a mathematician, college professor, and millionaire hedge-fund manager, is perhaps best known as the inventor of a card-counting technique and primitive wearable computer that helped him win at the gambling tables in Las Vegas and flummox casino owners in the 1960s. His latest book, part memoir and part how-to investment guide, mashes up several narratives that don’t quite work together. The book is most engaging when Thorp uses his conversational style and penchant for evocative details to recount his life story, which begins with his childhood and precocious command of numbers in the 1940s and then his years as an impoverished college student in California. Along the way, Thorp complains about state laws that prohibited his gambling tactics, detects Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme decades before its unmasking, rails against high-frequency stock market trading, and distances himself from legal troubles in his own hedge fund operations. The book is less successful when Thorp digresses into technical explanations of quantitative investment strategies, tutorials on basic accounting principles, and investment advice. In the end, Thorp seems to run out of original ideas, though his stated objective—to make readers “think differently about gambling, investments, risk, money management, wealth-building, and life”—is largely achieved. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2016
Release date: 01/24/2017
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