14 Gifted Math Geeks Who Have Made Big Bucks Gambling (Part1)

Harin - Jun 04, 2019

14 Gifted Math Geeks Who Have Made Big Bucks Gambling (Part1)

We’ve compiled a list of math geeks who’ve used their computational skills to make big bucks in Vegas, playing the lottery, or on other forms of gambling.

While some geniuses use their knowledge and skill to make a fortune in an old-fashioned way, through dedication and hard work, others try to bypass the system and to be rich in a somewhat illegal way.

Here we have a list of math geniuses who, with their computational skills, have made big bucks playing the lottery or trying other types of gambling. Some did not commit any illegal act and simply used their knowledge, others cheat and lie using their math skills, and some found out how a system worked just for fun.

1. Edward O. Thorp

Edward O. Thorp.

Edward Thorp, a mathematics professor, was a mastermind in taking advantage of probability theory for his own gain. As he wrote in his Beat the Dealer book how he used card counting to overcome the house edge in blackjack. With this strategy, during the 1960s, while playing at casinos, he won an amount of money worth tens of thousands of dollars. His practice has now been guarded against. Vegas isn’t the only place where Thorp used his distinctive talent in Math. He also applied his knowledge of statistics and probability to the stock market, which brought him a fortune.

2. MIT Blackjack team

The movie 21 which was based on the MIT Blackjack team.

One of the most well-known stories casinos being outsmarted by math geeks is about a group of MIT and Harvard students during the late 1970s to the late 1990s. The story was so famous that it was an inspiration for the movie called 21. The students won a considerable amount of money, which was double their initial investment by applying card counting techniques as well as other sophisticated strategies. Of course, their successes caught the attention of casino management, which led to many players being banned from casinos around the country. The team disbanded in 1993; however, some of the members went on to form their own team that continued to play blackjack until 2000.

3. Mohan Srivastava

Mohan Srivastava.

The difference between Srivastava and other names on this list is that he never tried his statistical skills to be rich. He attempted to crack the code on the scratch-off lottery cards mostly because he was curious. Srivastava figured out the clear patterns in the numbers used in the tic-tac-toe game. Through his discovery, he was able to predict which ones would be the winning cards with a striking rate of accuracy. He later learned that these same rules could also be used in other lottery games. Srivastava could have taken advantage of these methods to get rich, but he did not feel like it was worth his time. He even told the lottery authorities this problem they ignored his warnings. Until now, his findings can still be used on scratch-off tickets.

4. Joan Ginther

Joan Ginther.

Although no one can prove that Joan Ginther has taken advantage of her math skills to win four jackpots, each was worth one million dollars from the Texas Lottery. There are lots of speculation going around. Ginther is a Ph.D. graduate from Stanford, majoring in Math and used to work as a statistics professor. This is probably why many people believe that she used her knowledge in Math to crack the code for the algorithm of the lottery. What with all the speculation? Because for someone to win four jackpots, the odds is one in eighteen septillions. It is not impossible but highly improbable. But to the Lottery Commission, Ginther’s win was fair, and there was no cheating. But that doesn’t prevent people from believing that her math degree and talent in math has helped Ginther win a fortune.

5. A Team Of British Professors And Tutors

The gamble paid off as 17 members won a prize worth 13 million dollars.

Winning the lottery is no longer a game of luck if you are a math genius. Bradford University and College’s team of professors and tutors has applied their mathematics knowledge into playing the lottery. They even developed a formula which helped them select the winning lottery numbers. It took the team four years, an $8,700 investment and a computer for weekly checking the lottery numbers, the gamble paid off as 17 members won a prize worth 13 million dollars.

6. Michael Larson

Michael Larson (the middle one).

Larson was a contestant participating in the Press Your Luck game show in 1984. He had discovered how the board’s pattern combined with probability could help him choose the squares that most likely to have money in them.  He started slowly through the game; however, by the third round, on every turn, he was getting bonuses worth $110,237. Today that is around $233,000. Larson’s technique would bring him a jackpot. But he was disqualified from taking part in future shows. The game show also changed their patterns to make sure no one would use Larson’s trick to win.

7. Gonzola Garcia-Pelayo

Gonzola Garcia-Pelayo.

Roulette is the game of luck and chance. However, one man managed to find out that certain wheels match certain numbers. So, he decided to gather data and analyzed numbers from Casinos around Madrid. He and his family eventually realized that the numbers in roulette were not actually random. The statistical data proved that there was a distinct pattern, which was later taken advantage of by Garcia-Pelayo. He was able to win more than 1.5 million at casinos across the world in just a few years. Garcia-Pelayo was later sued by the casinos but the courts sided with him. Later, Garcia-Pelayo, as well as some of his family members, was not allowed to enter the casinos.


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