Getting Lucky

From Science:

Dice_160_jpg Chance favors the prepared mind” –-Louis Pasteur

Isn’t blackjack just another game of chance? Isn’t the player relying solely on the random turn of the cards? Not according to former Massachusetts Institute of Technology mathematics professor Edward O. Thorpe, who has shown that by combining several different strategies, the player can shift the advantage, ever so slightly, in his (or her) favor. Surely, the casinos will catch wind of this new gambling system and shut down all of their blackjack tables. Apparently, there’s no need. Thorpe published his findings, replete with mathematical evidence, in 1955, but hardly anybody takes the time to learn the system. It is possible to use skill to turn luck to your advantage, but not enough people bother to make it a problem for the casinos. The job market is like that, too. Then one day, I found myself at a daylong “Careers in Science” seminar.

And speaker after speaker gave variations on the same answer: It was luck. For those of us who hadn’t gotten lucky yet, it wasn’t a very satisfying answer.

So I started to look for other things these speakers had in common. I didn’t have to look far. These speakers had put as much effort into the presentation as they had into gathering the information that went into them. Even if they felt lucky, these people weren’t the type to wait for the phone to ring. Maybe they were lucky, but they also worked hard, made good decisions, and took pains to present themselves well.

More here.

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