The House Advantage
As I watch Amy scurry around and put the final touches on our Homer house before we leave to go home to Boulder, I thought I’d stay out of the way and write a quick final book post on The House Advantage. I read a bunch more books the past two weeks but ran out of gas reviewing them all – see my Shelfari bookshelf if you are interested. But The House Advantage was worth mentioning.
My friend Niel Robertson – the CEO of Trada (which we are investors in) introduced me to Jeff Ma (the author) and then also sent me a book. It turns out that I know Jeff and lived next door to his sister when I was at MIT. You also may know Jeff – he’s the main character in Ben Mezrich’s excellent book Bringing Down the House and the inspiration for he main character in the movie 21. It also turns out that Jeff is an accomplished entrepreneur. He’s had several successful companies, the most recent being Citizen Sports which Yahoo recently acquired.
The subtitle of The House Advantage is “Playing the Odds to Win Big in Business”. In it, Jeff takes on a topic that most business people avoid – statistics. He uses his experience with both the MIT blackjack team, sports statistics, and his friends experiences in these areas to explain very important statistics concepts in very clear and straightforward ways. He’s a great writer – rather than resulting in a dull book about business stats, it’s a spicy read full of stories of Vegas, sports, high speed car chases, airplanes exploding, terrorist drug lords, extreme dance parties, and … well – ok – Vegas and sports.
As I was reading it, I kept thinking “every CEO I work with and every investor I’ve ever met should read this book.” After I finished, I thought “every academic researcher who has ever written a paper should read this.” None of the statistics concepts are complex, but they are regularly misused, abused, and confused. Or ignored.
As a bonus, the book includes the Basic Strategy Chart for Blackjack. How many business books can claim that? Seriously, this is an outstanding book – Jeff – well done!