Untitled piece
By Sue Goetinck

26/10/99, page 7D
Research finds 2 losing games can make a gambler a winner. Look out Las Vegas, here comes Parrondo's paradox.

Scientists have shown it's possible to play losing games and still come out a winner.

Parrondo's paradox dictates that a gambler who alternates between two games, both with odds that strongly favour the house, can win if certain rules are followed. In the latest issue of Nature, two researchers from Australia illustrate how the paradox applies to two losing coin-toss games.

The first game involved one coin, biased so it would win slightly less than half the time. The second game involved two coins; which one was played depended on the winnings so far. Either game alone causes steady losses. But playing the games together would make any pit boss cringe.

The researchers ran computer simulations that alternated between two rounds of the first games and two rounds of the second. Over 100 rounds, earnings grew. Even switching randomly between the two games was a winning proposition.

The paradox may be useful for understanding economics or demographics, the researchers wrote.

Unfortunately, the scientists provided no specifics on blackjack, roulette, craps, or any other Vegas favourites.


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