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Summary

The incredible true story of the card-counting mathematics professor who taught the world how to beat the dealer and, as the first of the great quantitative investors, ushered in a revolution on Wall Street. 

A child of the Great Depression, legendary mathematician Edward O. Thorp invented card counting, proving the seemingly impossible: that you could beat the dealer at the blackjack table. As a result he launched a gambling renaissance. His remarkable success - and mathematically unassailable method - caused such an uproar that casinos altered the rules of the game to thwart him and the legions he inspired. They barred him from their premises, even put his life in jeopardy. Nonetheless, gambling was forever changed. 

Thereafter, Thorp shifted his sights to "the biggest casino in the world": Wall Street. Devising and then deploying mathematical formulas to beat the market, Thorp ushered in the era of quantitative finance we live in today. Along the way, the so-called godfather of the quants played bridge with Warren Buffett, crossed swords with a young Rudy Giuliani, detected the Bernie Madoff scheme, and, to beat the game of roulette, invented, with Claude Shannon, the world's first wearable computer. 

Here, for the first time, Thorp tells the story of what he did, how he did it, his passions and motivations, and the curiosity that has always driven him to disregard conventional wisdom and devise game-changing solutions to seemingly insoluble problems. An intellectual thrill ride, replete with practical wisdom that can guide us all in uncertain financial waters, A Man for All Markets is an instant classic - a book that challenges its readers to think logically about a seemingly irrational world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2017 Edward O. Thorp (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"An amazing book by a true icon...Edward O. Thorp launched revolutions in Vegas and on Wall Street by turning math into magic, and here he weaves his own life lessons into a page-turner as hot as a deck full of aces. Loved it!" (Ben Mezrich, New York Times best-selling author of Bringing Down the House and The Accidental Billionaires)
"Whether you are an aspiring professional player, a casual gambler, or an occasional visitor to Las Vegas, you can feel the impact of Edward O. Thorp's intellect on that desert city. In 1962, Thorp published the classic book Beat the Dealer. The text was based on Thorp's original research that stemmed from his curiosity about the game of 21 and was billed as a how-to book for the layperson to beat the casinos at blackjack. Simply stated, it changed everything. A Man for All Markets chronicles Thorp's personal journey in navigating the unexpected and sometimes dangerous obstacles that come along with challenging the status quo of a wealthy corporate adversary." (Nicholas G. Colon, professional advantage gambler and managing director, Alea Consulting Group)
"What a CV! Figure out how to win at blackjack using card counting? Check. Build the world's first wearable computer? Check. Find the formula for valuing financial options but use it to make money rather than win a Nobel Prize? Check. This book is in part the gripping story of how one man's genius and dedication has solved so many problems in diverse fields. But more important, it's a fascinating insight into the thought processes of someone with little interest in fame, who has mostly stayed under the radar, yet who has followed his inquisitive mind wherever it has led him, and reaped the resulting rewards. There is nothing more important than knowing how to think clearly. Read this book and learn from a master." (Paul Wilmott, founder, Wilmott magazine)

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What listeners say about A Man for All Markets

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One of the best investing books out there

Thorp has the very rare skill of explaining complex jargon and processes in amazingly simple language. My chem professor used to always say: 'people who don't understand something use complex jargon to conceal their confusion, people who understand can explain complex things in simple language.' This is a brilliant book if you're interested in maths, gambling and/or finance.

In particular, author describes: 1. Process for counting cards in BlackJack (and the maths behind it) 2. Several different arbitrage techniques his funds used throughout his lifetime 3. A review of the crashes from 1929 - 2008 4. An overview of the things to looks for when determining the intrinsic value of equities. 5. Astute observations of the ways in which, like casinos, those in financial markets cheat.

My only cautionary note is: this book is both an autobiography and an instructive manual. If you want both, start from beginning -> end. If you're only interested in finance or gambling I'd recommend skipping straight to those sections.

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing man, interesting story and life lessons

I read the paper book some years ago half way, not the book's fault that I did not finish it, nowadays it is much easier for me to listen to books than to read them.
Fortunately this book is perfectly fit for audio so when I discovered that it is available, I listened it from the beginning to the end. The author is reading it himself - this is usually a warning for me, but Thorp's performance is excellent also in this...
It is an interesting life story of an amazing mind.
Some lessons/advice anyone can take from Thorp is to "check for yourself" and be sceptic, if something is too good to be true. Seize the opportunities, but at the same time money and fame is not everything. Know also when enough is enough, and don't forget to live your life and spend time with your loved ones.
He has beaten the casinos in Black Jack and roulette - the latter with a garage-made wearable computer in the 1960's (the first if its kind), with the great Claude Shannon, father of Information Theory himself. They used the hidden device together in the casinos - as "Shannon had a large foot, so he operated the timer button with his big toe" (not an exact citation). He wrote a book (Beat the Dealer) on how to win against the House, so everyone else could do it... He invented and used the Black-Scholes option pricing formula independently 2 years before the Nobel laureates first published it, but this did not bother him.

He is one of the very few people I would surely trust with my money to invest, if he still had his market neutral hedge fund.
Respect.

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Loved the honesty and lessons in this book.

Edward O'Thorp's brain is marvellous. The curiousness nature lead to great discoveries. A very enjoyable listen about his life. Shows how even with a solid plan life throws you both positive and negative influences. Read by the author is a bonus too.

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Interesting

An interesting listen if you are interested in Maths and stats in action. It tells you what actually works while investing.

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a brilliant mind with intregity

so it may seem a little dated with the advent of algos for trading but what a fascinating life this man has lead.
i personally found his early life experiences the better part of the book and drifted over some of the deep dry maths stuff.
the integrity he showed is of a bygone era but is an inspiration to us all. he would be a great dinner table guest.

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interesting biography of an interesting Man

this was a great listen to hear someone's story including what they learnt through their life. excellent insight is provided on our world and how mathematics and how probability has helped develop his decision making. greatly recommend to anyone.

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Talk about an interesting life.

I’d never heard of Edward O. Thorp, super story but personally I realised that if you aren’t a mathematician like Dr Thorp, stay away from complex trading as boy does it some complicated.
Another good life story

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  • Oleksiy Volovik
  • 08-05-17

A life of a genius

What made the experience of listening to A Man for All Markets the most enjoyable?

Personally I enjoyed the story because I relate to the author and his views on how to live a fulfilling life. From his youth he has been educating himself in science and math, improving himself, understanding how the world works. This man did not limit himself to one ambition or one career or one goal. He learned how science explains the physical world around us, how mathematical patters can predict all kinds of scenarios that seem random to most of us. I added Edward Thorp to my list of successful, rich geeks like Howard Hughes, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. His story is an inspiration.

What did you like best about this story?

The author's intelligent approach to success.

Have you listened to any of Edward O. Thorp’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

After listening to this book I wanted to learn more about this genius that I never heard of before. I listed to some of his interviews.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The fist half yes, I wanted to keep listening and enjoyed every bit of it. The second part dealing with finance takes more time to digest some times so it's better to pause otherwise a lot of good information just blends and mixes together and gets forgotten.

Any additional comments?

This book makes you want to be smart and successful. Even though the author is a born genius, he provides a lesson that education and ambition go hand in hand on the road to success. You have to improve yourself in order to get what you want in life.

20 people found this helpful

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  • WindowPane
  • 10-04-18

Too much and not enough

Thorp is brilliant, and his ideas are important.

Read this book, don’t listen to it.

Ed has a great voice for face to face conversations, but it’s not equal to the task of the text.

Also, there is much to skip— the roster of celebrities he knows is not useful, and some of his descriptions of minutiae run far too long.

And I repeat— the ideas are brilliant.

I’ve taken 30 pages of notes, and wish that someone would publish an edited summary.

Great meat. Lots of gristle and some fat.

7 people found this helpful

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  • NORMAN TRAN
  • 08-05-19

A brilliant mind wasted

This is just a smart guy bragging about how smart and wonderful he is. Couldn't get through it but I tried reading it in several places and every time it was just about how great he is. No end to his ego. You would think being a genius would be enough for him. His ego bucket has a large hole in it and will never be filled.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Glenn Samia
  • 03-02-17

Einstein

I believe he will go down in history with Einstein and Franklin and Buffett. Mr. Thorp please accept my humble gratitude for all that you shared. You are so generous. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's long. I'd like to listen to it again. I highly recommend this book if you are and investor or a trader. I especially recommend this book if you are a quant.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Rafael Veras
  • 09-05-17

Great book and narration

Easy to listen. I like Thorp's pace, well articulated and somewhat slow. It's just great to hear straight from the man who lived such an exciting life journey. The book is what you would expect: casinos, markets, math, academia. Great content.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-12-17

my favorite

out of 52 audible books this year I listened to, this is up there as candidate for my favorite

10 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-05-17

Lots of information.

Have listened to many money books that miss what this book brings. Will listen several more times thru to gain a more complete trading strategy. Regards, Studabaker

4 people found this helpful

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  • B. Ramos-Stephens
  • 02-05-17

Good start; waste of a 2nd half.

The first half of the book was interesting & original, pertaining to personal history, insights & anecdotes. The 2nd half was merely general knowledge of finance, economics, compound interest, portfolio theory & rehashed financial history that had little to no connection with the 1st half. And, the 2nd half definitely did not have any new, original insights or wisdom.
I would have given this book 4 stars if it were just the 1st half.
Narration was a little dry, but sufficient.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Peter.Prajin
  • 26-02-17

fascinating... truely a man of his time.

what an incredible and unique vision of the world , directed purpose but always on eye on what truely has worth in the world

3 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Lowe
  • 06-03-17

Many sound lessons

Many good lessons can be learned from Thorp's interesting career and family.

Although he's a "science" oriented thinker, his Warren Buffet hero worship is a little ridiculous. He tells the usual and mostly accurate 2008 crisis etiology. He criticizes those who caused the crisis and received direct government bailout money. But he conveniently omits Warren Buffet's role with AIG which received the largest bailout of them all. If AIG hadn't received the TBTF money, Buffet's current reputation as a wise/prudent investor wouldn't be as described in this book.

Other than that, it's a good read.

6 people found this helpful