We're Down $700 Billion. Let's Go Double or Nothing!
How the financial markets fell for a 400-year-old sucker bet.
Read more about Wall Street's ongoing crisis.
Correction, Oct. 3, 2008: This piece originally misstated how many coin flips you would have to get wrong to lose $204,700 using the martingale betting strategy. It is 11, not 10. (Return to the corrected sentence.)
Jordan Ellenberg is a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin. His book How Not To Be Wrong is forthcoming. He blogs at Quomodocumque.
Illustration by Robert Neubecker.