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This site uses cookies. To find out more, read our privacy policy. This article was taken from the January issue of Wired magazine. Be the first to read Wired's articles in print before they're posted online, and get your hands on loads of additional content by subscribing online. How a Harvard maths graduate and his associates are beating Vegas and Atlantic City -- using data generated by advanced computer programs.

James Grosjean -- diminutive and unshaven, dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved black shirt -- stands beneath a gaudy chandelier in the Mardi Gras-themed Showboat casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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He focuses on a poker-based game, one of several in the place that have been designed to give the house a substantial advantage. As he watches, Grosjean explains that, even if players employ perfect basic strategy, the casino has an advantage of five per cent. He knows this because he has the data: Grosjean has devised what he says is the optimal way to play this poker variation using a piece of software that has played the game hundreds of thousands of times.

Grosjean has devoted hundreds of hours to studying how to give himself an edge in this game. He turns his gaze to a shorthaired dealer from the Philippines and observes how she deals for a couple of minutes.

Grosjean prefers hand-dealt games to those in which cards are distributed by machines. But luck doesn't come into his strategy. Grosjean, in his early forties, has a degree in applied mathematics from Harvard. He codes in half a dozen computer languages, describes himself as a statistician and says he has a mid-six-figure dollar income. At this moment, though, you would not imagine him to be educated or affluent: He resembles a punter who has gone to seed. Two players materialise and snag seats to the left of him.

A burly guy wearing a football jersey has squeezed into the seat between her and Grosjean. Two seats to Grosjean's right sits Previn Mankodi: He wears an Oakland Raiders T-shirt, bets small and watches intently, monitoring wins and losses.

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Cards are dealt, and Grosjean starts talking in gibberish, reeling off half-thoughts about cars, fish and girlfriends. With each utterance, he is identifying the dealer's cards for Mealea and Bullet so they can place bets. The action comes lightning fast; so fast that few people in the casino -- including the dealer's boss -- realise she is flashing cards.

An experienced casino shark can gain an advantage by briefly seeing a card -- a technique known as "hole carding" -- but Grosjean's skill is to take this and apply maths to it. He's researched every statistical eventuality of the game and memorised the optimal play for each situation. Armed with data, he turns this modest act into a weapon. He reverse engineers casino games, using data to create strategies to beat them, and can memorise more than 1, plays at a time. When he trolls a casino, he may look like a gambler, but he's really a quantitative analyst in search of soft targets.

Back at the table, predetermined words correlate with each card's rank. In case his players don't know what to do with that information, he uses hand signals.

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Looking relaxed and acting chatty, Grosjean spots cards, calculates optimal plays, adjusts those plays so as not to look suspicious, keeps an eye out for casino security, and signals to his teammates verbally and manually. Leading his group through a game in which most players have no chance of breaking even, Grosjean operates with a 25 per cent advantage.

With a basic strategy memorised, and with some form of card knowledge -- sometimes the exact card, sometimes a range of possibilities ie knowing that a card is between a two and a nine -- Grosjean calculates the perfect play. My major was applied math, and that is what I use. The dealer remains oblivious to the plan that has just been executed, as does the pit boss -- the dealer's overseer -- and the Showboat's surveillance crew, who keep watch via overhead cameras.

They ignore Grosjean in favour of more obvious targets, such as blackjack card counters who use an easily detected system to calculate the value of cards remaining to be dealt, based on knowledge of those already dealt. Typically, counters realise only a two per cent return on investment.

Grosjean works with a revolving group of players, maybe a dozen in all. He and his partner Mankodi are currently overseeing three teammates.

During the coming days in Atlantic City, they'll use maths, technology and physiology to win money at games that exist solely to be unwinnable, while watching for casino managers, who routinely jettison players who discover advantages.

In AprilCaesars Palace security personnel in Las Vegas thought Grosjean and a collaborator were cheating by bending cards, a way of marking them. Police arrested the pair. Grosjean's mugshot is now a staple of casino-security databases, even though charges were dropped. And we don't run games to lose money. At around two the following morning, Grosjean opens the door to his motel room, a couple of blocks from the Boardwalk.

The place is a dump: On the unmade bed there are two laptops: Data streams across both computer Best Online Gambling Baccarat Card Counting Computer, a flow of digits enabling Grosjean to strategise plays and divine odds.

The Vaio is working on numbers to help him calculate the values of "loss rebates": Grosjean is parsing these numbers to find an accurate value -- the games may not be beatable any other way.

Grosjean prefers to room away from the gambling tables. Except we have skills. People think I can't give this [way of life] up because I love whacking games.

I do -- but I also love writing code and running numbers. On the Toshiba, he is running " million hand simulations of a new game I'd rather not mention," Grosjean says. I want to confirm how much our edge deteriorates when I'm uncertain. Among the information on Grosjean's computers are snatched surveillance pictures of him and his teammates -- he uses the pattern on the casino carpeting to pinpoint where they have been picked off. Other files contain details of dealers who reveal hole cards those who blatantly flash get dubbed "superstars"; those who seem flashy, but aren't, are "teases"and phone numbers of local attorneys across the country.

Grosjean has been accused -- incorrectly -- of cheating on a number of occasions. The incident at Caesars Android On Phone Store Icon Png Maison resulted in a jury finding the casino guilty of false imprisonment, defamation and battery.

On Grosjean's bed is a printout of a photo from the Facebook page of a player on a competing crew he suspects will be in Atlantic City over the weekend.

A life spent hacking casinos might, thanks to Hollywood, appear to be glamorous.

But Grosjean views it as prosaic. Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, Thanksgiving, whenever. What Grosjean does isn't gambling; it's the implementation of statistics, combinatorics maths dealing with combinations of objects belonging to a finite set with certain constraintsprobability analysis and algebra that, on occasion, allows him to play at an advantage exceeding per cent. For example, he wanted to know how much to bet on a hand of blackjack if he had discerned that the first card he'd been dealt was an ace.

Standard blackjack wisdom is to bet everything -- knowing about the ace offers a Working within the Kelly Criterion a probability theory used by investors and gamblers Grosjean and Mankodi came up with the following formula: He walks into a casino and finds edges at a variety of games with a variety of methods that are unthinkable for other players.

The beauty of it all is that he beats games in ways that the casinos can't figure out, and they hate him for it. The process begins with Grosjean zeroing in on a card game in which players make decisions. I have the program play with those strategies.

I calculate every scenario one million times and keep working in different features until the game is profitable and simple enough to play -- you can't have rules to remember and five different calculations to make on each hand. So I figure out which edges we can ignore and lose fractional percentages of advantages. Sometimes we find moves that are casino-specific. I run the numbers and see what the game will pay under those various conditions. Grosjean glances at the digital clock on his bedside table.

He heads into the night, past a petty crime scene illuminated by flashing lights from police cars. Oblivious, he walks towards Best Online Gambling Baccarat Card Counting Computer glittering casino signage. The following afternoon, Grosjean sits on a bench near the entrance of Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City. Valet-parking attendants zip past while gamblers hustle in and out via the big glass doors. Australia Giant Spider Mouse Carry Horrifying Stories is waiting for a play that will take place in the next 90 minutes.

Killing time, he recounts wild tales: We had someone tell the dealer that she was exposing cards and she got herself transferred to a different game. His father edited a now defunct computer magazine called Sync and worked with an author named Ken Uston.

In the early 80s -- when Grosjean was around 12 -- Uston was known for writing Mastering Pac-Man, a guide to beating the arcade game. He was also the mastermind behind one of the most notorious blackjack teams in the country.

At high school, he learned to program in C, Pascal and Fortran. He already understood how to leverage the analytical power of computers.

He played his first blackjack games soon after turning On the ride down, I taught myself basic strategy by reading a book called Winning Casino Blackjack for the NonCounter.

But I thought it could be profitable, so I bought books on card counting and began to play. After graduating from Harvard inthelate80sasoneofthetop60 students in his year, he enrolled at the University of Chicago and pursued a PhD in econometrics with the intention of getting a job on Wall Street. Between classes, Grosjean picked up pocket money by card counting blackjack games on the Empress riverboat casino in nearby Joliet, Illinois.

Even then he recognised that he could use data to beat the system. For example, he devised a formula that let him triple his profitability while staking just twice the money. Some dealers do this due to poor visible perception, others through sheer laziness -- the deeper the cut card is, the less they have to shuffle.

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