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Casino is Goodfellas With a Mathematic Twist

You’re in a twinkly, noisy casino. You’ve filled up on buffet food and are ready to roll the dice or spin the reels. You’re hoping to win big. But you know gambling isn’t quite like the movies. It can be fun, but it’s also risky and addictive. And it’s important to recognize the real-life risks of gambling, so you can play responsibly and minimize the chances of developing an addiction or impacting your financial health.

Beneath the gloss of flashing lights and free cocktails, casinos stand on a bedrock of mathematics, engineered to slowly bleed their patrons of cash. But there are mathematically inclined minds who try to turn the tables by using probability theory to exploit casinos’ weaknesses.

One such group is called gaming mathematicians, who use their expertise to study the house edge and variance for every casino game. These experts are hired by casinos to help them understand how much of their profit comes from skill, and how much is just pure luck.

Casino is director Martin Scorsese dialing Goodfellas up to 11. It’s a gripping and gritty story of mob muscle in Las Vegas, as Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) funnels money to his family while waiting for his casino license. The movie is based on a nonfiction book by Nicholas Pileggi, who collaborated with the director on the screenplay. The film is well worth your time, and a worthy follow-up to the mob dramas of Scorsese’s past.