International Encyclopedia of Statistical Science

2011 Edition
| Editors: Miodrag Lovric

Statistics and Gambling

  • Kyle Siegrist
Reference work entry


Statistics can broadly be defined as the science of decision-making in the face of (random) uncertainty. Gambling has the same definition, except in the narrower domain of a gambler making decisions that affect his fortune in games of chance. It is hardly surprising, then, that the two subjects are closely related. Indeed, if the definitions of “game,” “decision,” and “fortune” in the context of gambling are sufficiently broadened, the two subjects become almost indistinguishable.

Let’s review a bit of the history of the influence of gambling on the development of probability and statistics. First, of course, gambling is one of the oldest of human activities. The use of a certain type of animal heel bone (called the astragalus) as a crude die dates to about 3500 BCE (and possibly much earlier). The modern six-sided die dates to about 2000 BCE.

The early development of probability as a mathematical theory is intimately related to gambling. Indeed, the first probability...
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References and Further Reading

  1. Blackwell D, Girshick MA (1979) Theory of games and statistical decisions. Dover, New YorkzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  2. David FN (1998) Games, gods and gambling, a history of probability and statistical ideas. Dover, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Dubins LE, Savage LJ (1976) Inequalities for stochastic processes (how to gamble if you must). Dover, New YorkzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  4. Epstein RA (1977) The theory of gambling and statistical logic. Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Pendergrass M, Siegrist K (2001) Generalizations of bold play in red and black. Stoch Proc Appl 92Google Scholar
  6. Savage LJ (1972) The foundations of statistics. Dover, New YorkzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  7. von Neumann J, Morgenstern O (1944) Theory of games and economic behavior. PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  8. Wald A (1950) Statistical decision functions. Wiley, New YorkzbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyle Siegrist
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Alabama in HuntsvilleHuntsvilleUSA