I guess many people have heard of Claude Shannon (information theory/entropy).
Perhaps not as many people have also heard of Edward Thorpe? I have known of his work for many years as he was chiefly responsible for making the gambling industry change the rules of blackjack1,2. Not only did he develop something called basic strategy (the best strategy to minimise the house edge) but he also developed card counting (keeping track of certain cards to maximise the chances of winning). Due to Thorp’s work (and also earlier work by Baldwin et al.3) casinos started using more than one deck and shuffling before the end of the shoe (the implement used to hold the cards) so as to minimise the effect of card counters (card counting is not actually illegal, but casinos don’t like it and can ask you to leave).
So, I had known of the work of both Shannon and Thorp but I never realised that they had worked together on roulette. I found this gem in a book I am currently reading4. They worked together on a device to predict what segment of the wheel the ball would land in. I’m not sure of the outcome of their work yet, as I am still reading the book. But, the point is, I had never associated these two scientists as working together; which I found interesting.
1: Thorp E.O. (1961) A Favorable Strategy for Twenty-One. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 47:110-112
2: Thorp E.O. (1966) Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty-One. New York: Random House (revised edition of 1962 book)
3: Baldwin R.R., Cantey W.E., Maisel H. and McDermott J.P. (1956) The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 51:429-439
4: Poundstone W. (2005) Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System that Beat the Casinos and Well Street, Hill and Wang