As the title suggests, Risk and Reward: The Science of Casino Blackjack is a book about strategies for increasing your chances of winning the game of Blackjack. The author does a thorough job of presenting previous work in the area as well as presenting new strategies related to betting.
The author makes the book accessible to a variety of audiences by presenting the strategies separately from the mathematical analysis. The strategy section of the book presents multiple methods of play, with little explanation of the mathematics needed to prove them. It is well organized, flows nicely and cites previous works. At the end of the strategy section, the author provides a realistic overview of the strategies presented and how a professional gambler and a weekend vacationer may differ in applying them. This section is a fairly quick read that can be interesting to readers of any background.
In the analysis section, the mathematical background is presented. For the first few chapters of the analysis section, an ambitious reader could get by with a modest mathematical background. More advanced techniques, such as vector calculus. are introduced the latter chapters.
Overall, the book is an entertaining and stimulating read for both mathematicians and casino goers.
Michael Rowell is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Pacific University. His research interests are in Combinatorics and Number Theory. His website is www.math.pacificu.edu/~rowell and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.