Finally, I considered the measures taken by each operator to protect its players from problem gambling. A safe online casino will work with non-profit making organisations, to identify ways to protect its players, and to provide support for those experiencing problems with gambling habits. Not only do the operators provide advice to their players, and contact details for professional organisations that can help with gambling addiction, they also contribute to organisations financially, investing in the support of problem gamblers and gambling addiction prevention.
Thorp’s book was a beacon for shy young men with a gift for mathematics and a yearning for a more interesting life. When Benter got to Las Vegas, he worked at a 7-Eleven for $3 an hour and took his wages to budget casinos. The Western—with its dollar cocktails and shabby patrons getting drunk at 10 a.m.—and the faded El Cortez were his turf. He didn’t mind the scruff. It thrilled him to see scientific principles play out in real life, and he liked the hedonistic city’s eccentric characters. It was the era of peak disco, with Donna Summer and Chic’s Le Freak all over the radio. On a good day, Benter might win only about $40, but he’d found his métier—and some new friends. Fellow Thorp acolytes were easy to spot on casino floors, tending to be conspicuously focused and sober. Like them, Benter was a complete nerd. He had a small beard, wore tweedy jackets, and talked a lot about probability theory.
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Bill Walters used to be a professional poker player before using his skills as a professional sports punter instead. Over nearly four decades, Walters has bet more money than anyone else in history and continued a winning streak that has earned him hundreds of millions of dollars. He’s living proof that sport betting is a game of skill. Like poker, Walters explains that winning sports punters have to analyze information then calculate risk and potential profits. In an interview with CBS News, Walters described his biggest and most audacious bet of all time. The New Orleans Saints were playing the Indianapolis Colts at the Super Bowl in 2010 and the consensus was that New Orleans were the underdogs. Walters analyzed all the information he had and discovered that it actually favored New Orleans as the most likely winners. He looked at the odds, calculated the risk and potential profit then decided to bet big. Walters bet $3.5 million on the supposed underdogs and New Orleans didn’t let him down. They defeated the colts 31–17 to win their first ever Super Bowl.
The easiest way to demonstrate the math behind a sports bet is to make up an example. Let’s say you and your buddy walk into a casino, each with $200 burning a hole in your pocket. There’s a big game on tonight, the Cowboys and the Redskins, so you wander into the sportsbook to check up on the latest news about the game. While you’re sitting there, you see the wagering board, with some funny numbers on it. It looks like this:
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