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The Eudaemonic Pie Paperback – November 2, 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (November 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595142362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595142361
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #946,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thomas Bass was a member of the group whose adventures are chronicled in The Eudaemonic Pie. He writes for The New Yorker, Wired and other magazines, and lives in New York and Paris.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Leutchik on June 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
What this team set out to do was only possible to get away with during a very narrow window in history. Sharp analytical and electronic skills at the dawn of the microelectronic age made it possible, and at a time when casinos weren't paying much attention to the threat posed by this emerging technology. Those days are gone forever. The casinos finally wised up around 1983.

Bass has done a great job of telling the story of how a couple of physics postgraduate students and their friends develop tiny computers controlled by toe switches enable them to achieve an edge over the casino at roulette.

This was particularly poignant for me, because I independently developed similar wheel-clocking methods and verified a 26% advantage over the house on a rented casino quality roulette wheel in 1976. The 'device law', which Nevada passed in the early 80's in response to people attempting to use technology to sack their coffers, largely put an end to concealed computers in casinos. Those to whom a felony rap is no deterrent are presumably still at it, using extremely advanced and difficult-to-detect hardware.

Bass' story is a fascinating read and highly reccommended.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Berman on June 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'll admit it: I'm a geek, and the idea of a bunch of math geniuses using homebuilt computers to beat roulette is right up my alley. The plot does not disappoint, as an eccentric band of high-octane misfits create a commune motivated by discovery, innovation and greed.
Unfortunately, the author's style is often ham-handed, leaving the reader with the unsettling feeling that the story should have been told differently. For one thing, the plot follows the project's timeline with mind-numbing accuracy. It's okay for journalism, but it leaves many of the juiciest details buried amongst mundane activities. In addition, the pacing does not change, giving the book a feel of bloodless efficiency rather than real passion or excitement.
A few years ago I read Paul Hoffman's "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers," the excellent biography of mathemetician Paul Erdos. The whole way through "Eudamonic Pie" I found myself wishing that Thomas Bass had emulated Hoffman's engaging intertwining of Erdos' life, the history of math and the obscure culture and argot of top mathemeticians. Instead, I found this book to be an interesting plot bogged down by a flat and lifeless style.
Sort of like Leonard Nimoy singing "Proud Mary."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey DeJoannis on November 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
- Love this story! There is some validity in the reviews that critique the pace/style of the writing. However, I read it back in the early 90s, and the fact that it is still a vivid recollection counts for something. The advantage of time passage in analysis is better context and objectivity. Of course the disadvantage is that the details are not fresh. Probably I have forgotten minor irritations with style, while the strongly positive impression lingers. I do not give 5 stars lightly; though in this case the rating is more for the intrinsic wonder of the tale more than the technical adeptness in the telling.

- The story is ultimately not about the goal, not about winning or losing or beating the house. Its really about the journeying. A unique shared human experience of some ordinary yet extraordinary people in ordinary yet extraordinary times. The ordinary draws the reader in with a continual reminder that it's a true story, magnifying the extraordinary nature of events. Somehow I found it intensely compelling to follow the characters and realize that in the same month I was, say, starting a newspaper route or trying to make the varsity soccer team, these offbeat-yet-practical, idealistic-yet-enterprising, brilliant-yet-sidetracked, anachronistic hippie-tinged grad students were mathematically modeling a roulette table in their central california bungalow or troubleshooting a shock-giving computer taped to their body in a casino bathroom hoping security won't find them out. Its a human story because its about about creativity, determination, curiosity, fear, motivation, joy, friendship and pain. Its a techno-geek-as-hero story as they blaze trails at the forefront of computer technology before you could even think about buying a TRS-80, much less a Commodore 64.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matt on February 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first heard about this book during fall semester 1991 from a fellow math grad student at the University of Texas at Austin who had just moved into our way-too-cozy little RL Moore Hall (RLM) office of three. It was my sixth and last semester there. I was on my way out of the Ph.D. program without any new titles attached to my name, or special paper to flash at prospective employers. With money short, that last semester I slept nights in the office on a surprisingly comfortable bench intended solely for day visits from students and colleagues.*

It was with this backdrop of living in Hotel RLM and experiencing a renewed kinship with the Beatles lyric "Oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go, nowhere to go," that I checked the book out of the university library and spent the next few gorgeous November afternoons lost in its pages on the South Mall, with a view of the Texas State Capitol building a mile to the south. Aged 32, I had still never been to a casino in my life (on a solo cross-country motorcycle trip six years earlier I'd stopped for gas, and gas only, on my way through Las Vegas).

This 1991 read still ranks among my most enjoyable of all time. I disagree with the author-ragging that's gone on in many of the comments here. Bass clearly put a lot of care and effort into the presentation. Upon reread, I still find it to be an inspired work of art and very well-written book.

The only minor thing I've noticed (in the paperback version, anyway) to really complain about are a few typos here and there that jump right out (e.g., "perennnially"). It seems a bit ironic given the subject material, that digital spell checkers evidently weren't used to copyedit the author's work.
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