Northern California Science Writers Association

Math whiz and Las Vegas card counting veteran Paul Stepahin

  • Wednesday, December 15, 2010
  • 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
  • Picaro Tapas Restaurant, San Francisco

Come enjoy paella, calamari, grilled artichoke, garlic shrimp and a mix of other Spanish tapas from Picaro's far-flung menu. Dive into a pitcher of sangria. Hobnob with your local friends and out-of-town colleagues visiting for the annual AGU meeting. And relax to a top-notch lineup of seriously unserious science trivia, whacky door prizes, and Las Vegas card-counting info-tainment.

What does information theory have to do with the black jack tables in Vegas? Our speaker, Paul Stepahin will talk about the mathematical underpinnings of card counting and betting as well as its history--both its rich intellectual background and rollicking anecdotal history.

Card counting techniques owe much to the development of information theory in the 1940s by American mathematician and electronic engineer Claude Shannon. It took another 14 years for this theoretical model to make its way into the casinos as "advantage black jack" or card counting. Paul will take us through the history of card counting including his own experiences as part of a team of advantage black jack players in Las Vegas. He was recruited to this legally-operated (and tax paying) enterprise while still a senior at Columbia majoring in physics. He'll demonstrate the basics of card-counting, including a group training session, and give some betting strategies and additional pointers on how to win at the black jack table--while avoiding getting tossed out by casino bouncers.

Known as the "math guy" at the Exploratorium for his love of computer science and complex mathematics, Paul is an exhibit developer and worked on the team that developed the recent Geometry Playground exhibition.

Picaro 3120 16th Street (near Valencia)
San Francisco, CA
Phone: 415 431-4089
***one-block walk from 16th St BART Station
***16th St BART is a quick, 4-minute ride from the Powell St BART Station near Moscone Center, where AGU will be held
[click for Google map]

6:00pm – 7:30pm No-host happy hour
7:30pm – 8:45pm Dinner
8:45pm – Speaker

$33 members
$20 students
$36 non-members & AGU attendees

NCSWA is subsidizing the cost in order to keep dinner affordable.

Register by Wednesday, December 8 to reserve your spot!

Pay online via Paypal
(you can use a credit card; no Paypal account is required)
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