Gambling and Gaming

General class information

Lectures:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:00 pm to 7:45 pm
  Thimann Lecture Hall 
Instructor: Abel Rodriguez
  JBE 351 - Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Teaching Assistant: Tatsiana Maskalevich
  JBE 144 - Fridays 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm 



Exams: Most of your grade (90%) will be assessed from two midterms and one final exam.  The final exam is cumulative, but will focus mostly on the material covered after 11/10.
  Midterm 1 - Th 10/20 during class hours (25%)
  Midterm 2 - Tu 11/15 during class hours (25%)
  Final - We 12/07 between 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm (40%)
 Homeworks:  Between four and five homeworks will be assigned.  These will not be graded, but at least 50% of the questions used in the exams will be taken from them.  Solutions will not be provided, but a discussion board on this website will be setup for students to discuss among themselves and post questions.  The discussion board will be monitored between twice and three times a week by the TA, who will serve as moderator 
Movie summaries:  Students must turn in a one-page summary for each one of the five movies to be screened. These summaries are due by the beginning of the class following the movie screening, the deadlines have been posted in the course calendar.  The summaries must be not longer than 400 words long and contain a reference to events in the beginning, middle and end of the movie.  They are to be submitted electronically using the Assignments tool in eCommons.
 Extra-credit: A number of extra-credit assignments will be assigned as the course progresses. Please check the Announcements site often for updates.


There is no required textbook for this course, lecture notes, supplementary materials and homework problems will be available electronically.  Please check theResources link in eCommons.

For the first part of the course, a few recommended books that can be used to complement the materials presented in the class include:
  • Packel, E. (2006)  The Mathematics of Games and Gambling.  Second Edition, The American Statistical Association.
  • Epstein, R. A. (2009)  The Theory of Gambling and Statistical Logic.  Second Edition, Academic Press.
  • Bewersdorff, J.  (2005) Luck, Logic and White Lies. The Mathematics of Games.  A K Peters
For the second part of the course we recommend:
  • Harrington, J. E.  (2009)  Games, strategies and decision making.  Worth Publishers.
  • Binmore, K. (2007)  Playing for Real. A Text on Game Theory.  Oxford University Press.
  • Fisher, L. (2008)  Rock, Paper, Scissors. Game Theory in Everyday Life.  Basic Books.

Class schedule

Tu 09/22  Introduction to the class.

Tu 09/27  Introduction to probability.  Equiprobable spaces.

Th 09/29  Expectation and variance.  Utility.

Tu 10/04  A brief history of gambling in the US:  Screening of History Channel High Rollers

Th 10/06  Playing roulette:  rules and bets.

Tu 10/11  Screening of History Channel Beat the Wheel  Discussion on biased wheels.

Th 10/13  Screening of History Channel Roulette Attack.  Discussion on gambling systems.

Tu 10/18  Playing Lotto:  Some advanced counting rules.

Th 10/20  Exam 1.

Tu 10/25  Conditional probabilities and Bayes theorem.

Th 10/27  Craps:  rules and bets.  Screening of History Channel's "Dice Dominator".

Tu 11/01  Playing blackjack:  Rules and bets.

Th 11/03  Screening of Professor Blackjack.  Card counting.

Tu 11/08  Roulette revisited:  Biased wheels, lengths of games and the distribution of profits.

Th 11/10  Playing poker:  Rules and bets.

Tu 11/15  Exam 2.

Th 11/17  Two-person, zero-sum games with non-random equilibria.

Tu 11/22  The general, two-person zero-sum game.

Th 11/24  Thanksgiving break.

Tu 11/29  The two-person, non-zero-sum game.

Th 12/01  Games of perfect information, Zermelo's theorem and unraveling.

We 12/07  Final exam, between 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm.  

Accommodations for students with disabilities

Every effort will be made to accommodate students with special needs.  If you qualify for classroom accommodations because of a disability, please get an Accommodation Authorization from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and submit it to me in person outside of class (e.g., office hours) within the first two weeks of the quarter.  Contact DRC at 459-2089 (voice), 459-4806 (TTY), or for more information on the requirements and/or process.

Academic integrity

All work you submit for this class must be your own, and a strict code of honor will be enforced.  Please check the UCSC student code of conduct at

Please avoid plagiarism! I strongly recommend that you check the information literacy tutorials at

Instructors and Assistants