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A Man for All Markets

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  5,197 ratings  ·  420 reviews
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
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published November 15th 2016 by Random House (first published 2016)
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Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ed Thorp, author of Beat the Dealer and Beat the Market, about winning at blackjack and winning in the stock market, takes a very straightforward approach to writing about his life and it works well. As a physicist and mathematician, he tackled the questions of roulette wheels and blackjack games in a scientific way and found that it was possible to beat the house. Once he had exhausted that topic to his satisfaction and the dismay of the casinos, he moved on to the bigger casino of the stock ma ...more
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's half of a good book. The first half of the book was an utterly fascinating autobiography recalling the early years of the author's childhood life and how he got interested in mathematics. His curiosity led him to key discoveries in how to beat the dealer in blackjack and other games of chance, and eventually led him down the path to make key discoveries to arbitrage the markets in finance. However, that material only provided enough for half of a book so the latter half is stuffed with his ...more
Kanwalpreet Singh
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've come to believe very strongly that any knowledge that cannot be used in the real world is useless. Application of knowledge to solve real world problems - for individualistic gain or otherwise - satiates our desire to exist. As Munger says, we have a high moral responsibility to understand human systems and act rationally. In this regard, Thorp's autobiography is an illustrative guide to finding meaning in life - not through spirituality, but through curiosity and application of the inquisi ...more
Andrew Tollemache
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ed Thorpe is one of the great minds in the history of the trading business and one of the Top 5 trading legends I have been hoping to see a biography come out on. (Steven Cohen plz!!) In this case Thorpe wrote his own autobiography and that makes it all the better. Thorpe tells his story of how he would grow from humble roots in Depression era California to become the man who wrote both "Beat the Dealer", in which he laid out the mathematical means to win at Blackjack for a generation of real an ...more
Jakob Borg
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I haven't finished the book yet but Thorp seems to take great pleasure in describing what a special snowflake he is. His self-aggrandizing way of reflecting the past makes him come across as a braggart, which makes for a rather painful read. ...more
Tim O'Hearn
Jan 30, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Ed Thorp is a genius and will one day be recognized, officially, as one of the greatest minds of the 20th (and early 21st) century.

I've spent a lot of time reading books about investing and quantitative finance. Some of this was very familiar to me. This book is a train ride that stops at all of the interesting stops. Yet, Ed has so much primary information to share that he manages to make so much of this his own. The coverage is incredible, the perspective is priceless. He invented card countin
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Education builds software for your brain”
- Edward Thorp
I was one of the first buyers of Thorp's first book, _Beat the Dealer_. I grew up with cards and dice, and even had a slot machine at home, manufactured by my grandfather's company. My husband had put himself through college playing poker. So we were naturals. We spent a month dealing blackjack to each other until we had both mastered Thorp's system. I was just 21 and looked younger. We went off to Nevada on many weekends before the casinos had started taking defensive measures. On our meager st ...more
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I started this book thinking it would be focused on money making strategies, however although there is a good deal of discussion here, I think those looking for takeaways in this area would be better suited to his other more detailed books on blackjack and beating the market (though I haven't read those so cannot say for sure).

"A Man for All Markets " is firstly an Autobiography Memoir. He starts with detailed life account from the early beginnings of life in poverty through to present day. I w
(Recommended by ericf)

(5.0) Great stuff, lots of good highlights, smart man with diverse interests (most of them somehow related to making himself money)
Tom Stamper
Apr 16, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, business
I was introduced to Thorp as a kid when dad taught me the strategy around blackjack. I still have that paperback dad gave me. I didn't understand all the math, but I understood the strategy enough to memorize basic play and I remembered enough to play decently when I turned 18 a decade later. I had always figured that Thorp continued in the gambling world like math experts David Sklansky and Chris Ferguson. It turns out that Thorp took a different path to Wall Street where his ability to find ma ...more
Nilesh Jasani
It is difficult to praise one’s own self and talk about the achievements in witty, interesting and factual ways without appearing arrogant, exaggerating or biased. Ed Thorp may do thousands of other things better than almost anyone else, but certainly not that.

The author is an extraordinarily talented and successful person. He is a brilliant theoretician who can justifiably lay claim to a handful of good mathematical theories. He is also a good investor. He has led an interesting life, particula
Vn Le
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you want to feel how pathetic a loser you are, read this book. Seriously the guy taught himself Fortran in the 1960s (or 50s?) to beat Blackjack, built the first wearable device to beat roulette, created what we now call as quant-trading, and actually made money consistanly out of if. He also took one of the first IQ tests, yoloed big chunk of it, only to be found to be in the class of "once in a century" prodigies. Hell, this review could very well be just a list of his achievements.
But this
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although I listened to it as an audiobook, I "couldn't put it down", so to speak. Engaging autobiographical story about Ed Thorp. I liked that he spent the first part of his book laying down how his core values and how he perceives the world. It helped in building the world that he lived in, and explained the things that happened to him later in his life.

Pretty nice analysis of modern investment and economic landscape towards the end of the book, leaving the reader with practical takeaways.
Jul 31, 2021 rated it it was ok
The book starts with some excellent anecdotes of Thorp working with Claude Shannon. But it falls apart when Thorp starts talking about how special he is. I'm still not sure that he has done much other than make a lot of money, but to Thorp his money apparently is proof of his worth. We're supposed to be impressed by his Ferraris?! Never mind that a lot of his money was made in collaborations with literal criminals. Thorp of course declaims any knowledge of their crimes, as if this makes absolves ...more
Jan 31, 2022 rated it liked it
The first ~260 pages are fantastic. Thorp was a child prodigy who was fascinated by all kinds of science and driven to learn. He proved mathematically, then in the casinos themselves, that blackjack players hold an edge over the dealer and literally wrote the book Beat the Dealer in the 1960s. He moved on from academia and gambling to make boatloads of money in the stock market, hob-nob with Warren Buffet, and generally live a fascinating life. The writing is clear and engaging, page-turning, an ...more
Thiago Marzagão
What a page-turner. Lots of great insights illustrated with the best anecdotes. My take-aways:

- Assess not just market risk but also fraud risk. Thorp was cheated at casinos early in his career, in all sorts of ways (they even poisoned his coffee). Then in 1991 he was among the first to call out Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme - for which Madoff wouldn't be convicted until 2009, even though the SEC had been alerted to his fraud multiple times over the years. (That's the same SEC that is now crackin
Dennis Littrell
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“A Man for All Markets” is at its core a captivating memoir on how Professor Thorp managed to acquire a fortune estimated at around $800-million. It’s dense, it’s detailed, it’s engagingly written, it’s a lot of fun to read and it’s full of valuable information. I would love to have read the chapters on markets some years ago when I was an active trader. I’d have made a lot more money!

How did he do it? “Education,” he explains in a later chapter.

He either taught himself or he learned from other
Sanford Chee
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I just read this new book by Ed Thorp, the guy who beat the dealer in Las Vegas.. then he did computer algorithmic trading. I really liked the book, I recommend Thorp’s new book" - Charlie Munger


Tim Ferriss interview 25 May 2022

TIP Mar 2017

True success is exiting some rat race to modulate one’s activities for peace of mind.
What matters in life is how you spend your time.
Success for us wa
Matt Pevic
Dec 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was a very frustrating AudioBook. I have discovered that autobiographies about titans in the finance industry tend to be far too self-aggrandizing for my liking (Currently having the same problem with Ray Dalio's "Principles".) It is made doubly painful when the Autobiography is read by the author. Edward is not a good reader. He has an odd cadence and seems inhibited by something in his mouth (dentures?) that makes his reading style off-putting. On top of that finance titans tend to be rat ...more
Jonathan Newman
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
The book starts with Mr. Thorp bragging about how great of a child he was and ends with him explaining basic financial topics and stating his views on the current behavior on Wall Street. In the middle, there are a few moderately interesting chapters about his life as an adult. He was right about absolutely everything that he did in his life if you don't believe me, he will tell you in his book. I listened to the audiobook and it was about 12 hours of him patting himself on the back and 4 hours ...more
Alan Cook
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read Thorp's book about playing blackjack, Beat the Dealer, in the early sixties, and tried card counting in Las Vegas. It was fun even though I didn't make much money at it. However, I admired his approach to problem solving and I'm glad he wrote this book, which reviews his career, not only beating gambling games but also the financial markets. There is lots of good information for investors in the book and everyone who is investing for retirement or anything else should read this book or ot ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. It’s about Edward Thorp, an MIT/UC Irvine math professor who: (1) figured out how to beat the casinos at blackjack; (2) founded the Wall Street quant movement; (3) discovered the Black-Scholes valuation methodology before Black and Scholes; (4) co-developed the first wearable computer (and successfully used it to beat the casinos at roulette); (5) started the derivatives movement; (6) founded the first market-neutral hedge fund; and (7) wrote numerous books and transfor ...more
Trung Nguyen Dang
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A autobiography by Ed Thorp, the man who has beaten not only the casino but also Wall Street. A briliant mind. Great read. This book is recommended by Charlie Munger in the Daily Journal AGM in Feb 2017. Jack Sschwager also said the most impressive of all the people he met/featured for his Market Wizards series was Ed Thorp. Read the book to appreciate Ed Thorp. I didn't learn much from it though. ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was really frustrated at the end of the book because it was such a slog and then finally some really great wisdom on investing, regulating financial markets, and warnings and it wasn’t nearly enough. It’s a really interesting perspective on markets. Isn’t it interesting how many expert gamblers become stock traders?
Jonathan Waite
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
The book would be more aptly titled "Ed Thorp's reminiscences". Ed certainly had a very admirable career and seems like a nice, fair and straightforward guy. However, there isn't much to takeaway from this book. It would have been much better if written by a ghostwriter. ...more
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Really interesting history / biography; Very good book (5 star) until its half, when it changes from biography to a kind of financial markets 1-on-1. Then gets boring and superficial. Overall a good read.
Andre Kubota
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book on Edwar Thorp, who claims to invent the black scholes formula and to be the first to discover how to beat the casinos (black jack and the roulette). The first part of the book is much more interesting when he talks about the casinos and gambling. In the middle of the book, which is also interesting, he mentions the investing strategy and the funds he managed. The end of the book is not that interesting (for me), as he focus on basic finance. Overall, very interesting!

Library of
Jul 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A great book by a great man with a lot of great lessons for life as well as investing / gambling.

Below are my notes. More summaries like this can be found at www.libraryof.xyz

Edward Thorp is the MIT professor who solved blackjack, roulette and baccarat and won over Las Vegas. At the age of 32, he went on to Wall Street to outperform the stock market for the next 30 years. Through his company Princeton Newport Partners, Thorp did arbitrage with shares, warrants, options and convertibles and show
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that to people outside of investing Thorp is not that well-known, but this guy is amazing! Somewhat similar to Feynmann in love for science and practical jokes, but in a completely different domain. The most important takeaway of this book is that you should not take things for granted simply because other people said so and instead verify it by experiment. For example, people said that blackjack cannot be beaten as the casino has better odds - which is indeed true for the initial set of ...more
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Edward Oakley "Ed" Thorp (born 14 August 1932) is an American mathematics professor, author, hedge fund manager, and blackjack player best known as the "father of the wearable computer" after inventing the world's first wearable computer in 1961. He was a pioneer in modern applications of probability theory, including the harnessing of very small correlations for reliable financial gain[citation n ...more

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