How a Harvard maths graduate and his associates are beating Vegas and Atlantic City -- using data generated by advanced computer programs James Grosjean -- diminutive and unshaven, dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved black shirt -- stands beneath a gaudy chandelier in the Mardi Gras-themed Showboat casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
He focuses on a poker-based game, one of several in the place that have been designed to give the house a substantial advantage.
As he watches, Grosjean explains that, even if players employ perfect basic strategy, the casino has an advantage of five per cent.
He knows this because he has the data: Grosjean has devised what he says is the optimal way to play this poker variation using a piece of software that has played the game hundreds of thousands of times.
"But none of the civilians play it perfectly," he says.
"Most are at a 17 per cent disadvantage." Most players spend three minutes learning the ropes -- and promptly hand over their money to the casino.
Grosjean has devoted hundreds of hours to studying how to give himself an edge in this game.
He turns his gaze to a shorthaired dealer from the Philippines and observes how she deals for a couple of minutes.
Grosjean prefers hand-dealt games to those in which cards are distributed by machines.
"Right there," he says, nodding towards one of the chairs, "is the lucky seat."But luck doesn't come into his strategy.
Grosjean, in his early forties, has a degree in applied mathematics from Harvard.
He codes in half a dozen computer languages, describes himself as a statistician and says he has a mid-six-figure dollar income. Two players materialise and snag seats to the left of him.