From the famous fountain show at the Bellagio to luxury accommodations and an array of gaming options, casinos offer glitz and glamour. But they also rely on an element of chance and mathematical expectation to slowly bleed patrons of their money. Despite this, some mathematically inclined folks have tried to turn the tables on casinos by using their knowledge of probability and game theory to exploit weaknesses in these systems.

Gambling in one form or another has been around for millennia, beginning with dice in 2300 BC and cards in 800 AD. It has never lost popularity and continues to be a major source of revenue for many casino venues, with card games leading the way and other table games not far behind.

Generally, casino games fall into one of two categories: those conducted by a live dealer (table games) and those run on automated machines or by video cameras, usually called electronic roulettes. A few casinos feature traditional Far Eastern games like sic bo, fan-tan and pai gow, and most have some variation of poker.

While legitimate businessmen shunned casinos because of their seamy image, organized crime figures found the influx of mob cash to be very tempting. Some even took sole or partial ownership of certain casinos, and used their ties to the Mafia to influence game outcomes and manipulate results. The mobsters helped give rise to a casino industry that now brings in billions of dollars each year.