Author J. Bewersdorff. Translated by D. Kramer.
Publisher Wellesley, Massachusetts: A.K. Peters. 2005, pp. xvii + 486, US$44.00.

PART I: Games of Chance
1. Dice and probability
2. Waiting for a double 6
3. Tips on playing the lottery: More equal than equal?
4. A fair division: But how?
5. The red and the black: The law of large numbers
6. Asymmetric dice: Are they worth anything?
7. Probability and geometry
8. Chance and mathematical certainty: Are they reconcilable?
9. In quest of the equiprobable
10. Winning the game: Probability and value
11. Which die is best?
12. A die is tested
13. The normal distribution: A race to the finish!
14. And not only at roulette: The Poisson distribution
15. When formulas become too complex: The Monte Carlo method
16. Markov chains and the game Monopoly
17. Blackjack: A Las Vegas fairy tale
PART II: Combinatorial Games
18. Which move is best?
19. Chances of winning and symmetry
20. A game for three
21. Nim: The easy winner!
22. Lasker Nim: Winning along a secret path
23. Black-and-white Nim: To each his (or her) own
24. A game with dominoes: Have we run out of space yet?
25. Go: A cIassical game with a modern theory
26. Misère games: Loser wins!
27. The computer as game partner
28. Can winning prospects always be determined?
29. Games and complexity: When calculations take too long
30. A good memory and luck: And nothing eIse?
31. Backgammon: To double or not to double?
32. Mastermind: Playing it safe
PART III: Strategic Games
33. Rock-paper-scissors: The enemy's unknown plan
34. Minimax versus psychology: Even in poker?
35. Bluffing in poker: Can it be done without psychology?
36. Symmetric games: Disadvantages are avoidable, but how?
37. Minimax and linear optimization: As simple as can be
38. Play it again, Sam: Does experience make us wiser?
39. He/Her: Should I exchange?
40. Deciding at random: But how?
41. Optimal play: Planning efficiently
42. Baccarat: Draw from a five?
43. Three person poker: Is it a matter of trust?
44. QUAAK! Child's play?
45. Mastermind: Color codes and minimax

Readership: General readership, particularly game-players

This book is a translation of a book which was first published in German by Vieweg & Sohn Verlag in 2001. The author is (among other things) general manager of a game design company based in Limburg, Germany and the book is written to reach as broad a readership as possible.
The range is very wide and in broadly three categories. As the contents indicate, these are Games of Chance ('Luck'), Combinatorial Games ('Logic'), Strategic Games ('White Lies').
In the first of these categories, of course, there are features of the games (e.g. cards, dice, lotteries) which are not within the control of the player(s), even if probabilities of these features are known. In the second category are games (e.g. chess, checkers, nim, go) in which complete knowledge of the current state of play-and how it was arrived at-is known to the players, but where complexity comes from the vast numbers of moves and consequences that then need to be evaluated. Finally, in the third category are games (e.g. Rock-Paper-Scissors, Mastermind, poker) where knowledge is definitely incomplete and the goal is to ascertain and exploit the strategy of an opponent, while protecting one's own strategy. This book is certainly not a textbook. As the author admits, the mathematical detail given is too superficial and incomplete for experts, but there is a wealth of information and results to satisfy the most avid taste. The general readership should find it very fascinating and motivating to get to know more; these such readers who wish to follow up specifics, but also the experts, should find the multitude of references given throughout the text and in extensive chapter notes a mine of information. These references are also useful in putting aspects of the games in a historical perspective. The style of the book is engaging and attractive.

Institute Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Place London, U.K.
Name F.H. Berkshire

ISI – INTERNATIONAL STATISTICAL INSTITUTE (isi.cbs.nl), Short book reviews