Altered States

Edward O. Thorp, A Man for All Markets — Beating Blackjack and Roulette, Beating the Stock Market, Spotting Bernie Madoff Early, and Knowing When Enough Is Enough (#596)

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“When you begin to think for yourself, the whole world changes and becomes much clearer.”

— Edward O. Thorp

Edward O. Thorp (@edwardothorp) is the author of the bestseller Beat the Dealer, which transformed the game of blackjack. His subsequent book, Beat the Market, coauthored with Sheen T. Kassouf, influenced securities markets around the globe. He is also the author of A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market.

Edward was one of the world’s best blackjack players and investors, and his hedge funds were profitable every year for 29 years. He lives in Newport Beach, California.

Please enjoy!

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Brought to you by Wealthfront automated investing, Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement, and Eight Sleep’s Pod Pro Cover sleeping solution for dynamic cooling and heating. More on all three below.

#596: Edward O. Thorp, A Man For All Markets — Beating Blackjack and Roulette, Beating the Stock Market, Spotting Bernie Madoff Early, and Knowing When Enough is Enough

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear another episode that touches on the world of investing? Listen to my conversation with Ray Dalio, in which we discussed how Ray thinks about investment decisions, the three books he would give to every graduating high school or college senior, how he might assess cryptocurrency, and much more.

#264: Ray Dalio, The Steve Jobs of Investing


  • Connect with Edward O. Thorp:



  • Edward fills us in on where he grew up, how he was educated, what made the application of mathematics to gambling such a compelling challenge, and why he rushed to publish his successful system after testing it in the real world. [04:51]
  • What reference material did Edward use in his first trip to the blackjack table in Vegas, and why was Claude Shannon at MIT — a person known to be difficult to reach — willing to spare five minutes to meet with him around this time? [12:01]
  • What method did Edward and Claude devise to beat roulette with the assistance of what MIT considers to be the first wearable computer? [15:11]
  • Edward looks great for a man in his 60s — which is especially incredible when you consider he’s 89! Is it just a case of lucky genetics, or does he follow some kind of mortality-cheating health regimen? Has his approach to remaining in shape changed over the years? [17:13]
  • How did finance and investing enter the picture for Edward? Where did this lead, and who did he meet along the way? [25:19]
  • What was it about Warren Buffett that made Edward come away from their first meeting convinced he’d someday be the richest man in the world? [34:22]
  • If Edward were teaching a seminar in investing to a modern student body (some of whom might not possess an aptitude for math), what frameworks would he impart to get them started? [38:55]
  • What lessons learned from investing are transferable to other areas of life? [43:50]
  • Even at 89, Edward considers himself a long-term thinker. How might those of us who struggle to think beyond the short-term be more like Edward? [45:59]
  • How did Edward suss out that something was fishy about the way the Madoff brothers were doing business 17 years before everybody else finally caught on? [50:58]
  • Exploring the mental models of externalities, the tragedy of the commons, and fundamental attribution errors. [59:15]
  • What you should be reading and listening to if you want to enact positive change in the world right now — politically or evolutionarily. [1:08:29]
  • What investors, aside from Warren Buffett, impress Edward — and why? [1:13:48]
  • How has Edward known where to draw the line between growing a business and withdrawing before it consumed all else in his life? What catalyzed his decision to wind things down? [1:17:48]
  • What does independence mean to Edward and how did he spend his time after winding down the investment side of things? [1:22:52]
  • Is there anything Edward’s particularly curious about learning right now? [1:24:27]
  • Pondering a conversation between Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut and other parting thoughts. [1:26:37]


“If you’re a long-term investor, you should just buy and hold equities. And the best place to have bought and hold equities has been the US for the last couple of hundred years.”
— Edward O. Thorp

“Do what you love and the money may follow. If it does, that’s fine. If it doesn’t, you’re still doing what you love.”
— Edward O. Thorp

“When the Chicago Board Options Exchange opened for business in April 1973, the only people on the floor were my traders. It was like having machine guns against bows and arrows.”
— Edward O. Thorp

“If you really are interested in investing, it’s worth educating yourself and trying to do it because you will learn a lot about investing. You might actually find a way to win, and you’ll learn about how the world works and a lot about life too. The things you learn from what seems like a narrow, specialized field, generalizes very widely to all kinds of things if you’re the kind of person who can take a lesson in one part of life and transport it to another part of life.”
— Edward O. Thorp

“There’s an old saying, ‘Give a person a fish and they eat for a day; teach a person to fish and they eat for a lifetime.’ And it’s a similar thing for thinking. If you give somebody advice about a problem, they might solve that one problem. If you teach them how to think about problems, they can solve problems for the rest of their life.”
— Edward O. Thorp


DISCLAIMER FROM TIM FERRISS: I am not an investment adviser. There are risks involved in placing any investment in securities or in Bitcoin or in cryptocurrencies or in anything. None of the information presented herein is intended to form the basis of any offer or recommendation or have any regard to the investment objectives, financial situation, or needs of any specific person, and that includes you, my dear listener or reader. Everything you’re going to hear in this interview is for informational entertainment purposes only.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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