Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Black Swan is a good read

As I read a book, I mark any interesting quotes and copy them out – it’s a laborious process, but at least helps me remember some of what I have read.

I’m only twenty five pages into The Black Swan Taleb but if I carry on at this rate, I’m soon going to need another book-mark.


Kevin Spacey teaches trading with 21

The film ’21’ is based on the book ‘Bringing Down the House: How Six Students Took Vegas for Millions’ (by Ben Mezrich), which I found to be reasonably interesting and faced paced. I regret watching the film, however, as it didn’t add anything other than a few Hollywood plot twists.

Here are some quotes from the book:

“Overall, the team was still way up on the month. But it was a painful lesson to learn all at once. No matter the count, the cards could go bad. Over time, winning was inevitable, a matter of pure math. But in the short run, the game could go either way. Even math left room for luck.”

“Let’s assume you have a roughly 2% edge over the casino. …you need to have enough money to withstand any variant swings against you. A rule of thumb is that you should have at least a hundred basic units. Assuming you start with ten thousand dollars, you could comfortably play a hundred dollar unit.”

“He remembered what Micky had said when they kicked him off the team: The most important decision a card counter ever has to make is the decision to walk away.”

“Blackjack is the only game in the casino that is beatable over an extended period of time, because blackjack is subject to continuous probability. This simply means that what you see affects what you are going to see. Blackjack is a game with a memory. If an ace comes out in the first round of blackjack shoe, that means there is one less ace left in the rest of the deck…in other words, the past has an affect on the future.”

A little something

I’ve discovered this great little time-passer. Simple, brilliant, and a bit too addictive. Enjoy.

Swissie is no longer carry positive

Many years ago, I burned up an FX trading account with Oanda. I left a mere £70 in the account as a reminder of my shame.

Well, I’ve recently been playing around with this account, and have doubled the equity. That’s a one hundred per cent increase in a matter of months … damn, I’m good*. There’s no magic involved here: I’m short gold and generally trade from the long USD side because that’s my predisposition, hinder me that it may! Anyway what’s the point here? Oh yes, I recently added a small long USD/CHF to the book because this trade always pays out a little in interest. Alas, to my surprise it was carry negative. This is shocking because for as many years as I have been in the FX mkts, USD/CHF has always paid out on the long side. I guess times change.

The word ‘idiot’ is derived from the Greek ‘idiōtēs’, meaning a ‘person lacking professional skill’. I qualify as a first class idiot for not paying any attention to US and Swiss policy rates crossing over.

* Sarcastic self-congratulation.