Bloomberg's Kit Chellel wrote a fascinating profile of Bill Benter, a man who cracked the horse-racing code in the 1980s and made hundreds of millions of dollars.
Benter wanted something more rigorous, so he went to the library at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, which kept a special collection on gaming. Buried in stacks of periodicals and manuscripts, he found what he was looking for—an academic paper titled “Searching for Positive Returns at the Track: A Multinomial Logit Model for Handicapping Horse Races.” Benter sat down to read it, and when he was done he read it again.
The paper argued that a horse’s success or failure was the result of factors that could be quantified probabilistically. Take variables—straight-line speed, size, winning record, the skill of the jockey—weight them, and presto! Out comes a prediction of the horse’s chances. More variables, better variables, and finer weightings improve the predictions. The authors weren’t sure it was possible to make money using the strategy and, being mostly interested in statistical models, didn’t try hard to find out. “There appears to be room for some optimism,” they concluded.
Benter taught himself advanced statistics and learned to write software on an early PC with a green-and-black screen. Meanwhile, in the fall of 1984, Woods flew to Hong Kong and sent back a stack of yearbooks containing the results of thousands of races. Benter hired two women to key the results into a database by hand so he could spend more time studying regressions and developing code. It took nine months. In September 1985 he flew to Hong Kong with three bulky IBM computers in his checked luggage.
Benter still wins with his algorithm, but he is constantly tweaking it.
A man noticed an empty, broken-down house in Sydney, Australia and poked around the neighborhood to find out more about it. Turns out the occupant, who had been renting it since around the 1940s, had died earlier that year. So Bill Gertos, a tax accountant at the time, decided it was okay – and ethical […]
In the arcade game Deal or No Deal, based on the TV game show of the same name, you have to try to keep your eyes on fast-moving cartoon suitcases as they are shuffled on the display. These guys used their phones to videotape the shuffling in slow motion so they could keep track of […]
The supreme court in India rule that all bars, pubs and liquor shops must be at least 500 meters away from state and national highways. One bar in Kerala which is only 270 meters from a freeway, has built a 250 meter fenced maze in front of the bar. “Now it is 520 metres from […]
Heads up: The clock is winding down on a free-entry contest to win not only one of the best smartphones on the market but a handy pair of earbuds. A simple sign-up is all you need to be eligible to win a 256 GB iPhone XS Max, along with AirPods. And while “free” is tough […]
Kudos to those of us who have chosen a less wasteful third option to “paper or plastic” at the supermarket or club stores. Tote bags are reusable, but they can be a pain to tote around. Here’s an upgrade to that planet-saving measure. The Club Cart Lotus Trolley Bag is that rare tote you’ll want […]
Looking for a career in IT, gaming or software development? In the ever-changing world of the internet, versatility is your biggest asset. In other words, mastering Java might not cut it in an interview if you don’t know C#. However, there’s a bundle that covers the essentials in most any language. The Legendary Learn to […]