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The Mathematics of Games and Puzzles: From Cards to Sudoku

Improve your odds of winning card games and solving puzzles, not by cheating but by tapping into the unbridled power of mathematics.
The Mathematics of Games and Puzzles: From Cards to Sudoku is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 60.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just received it & no chance to review it The review title says it all. Will check back later
Date published: 2022-09-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Such a hassle to fight your way through all the prompts and website redirections to Wondrium. Stop it. Just let us go to The Great Courses like we always did. I don't want to a series of Wondrium ads and explanations to get where I want.
Date published: 2022-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy, and very slow! I am an advanced cuber, and this went through alot of the fun facts I know and was really cool. It also is broken up slowly and used the easiest method. I suggest JPerm on youtube if you want to become better :)
Date published: 2022-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Organized Lecturer is personable and enthusiastic about his presentation. Examples given are easy to comprehend and relevant to the material. Illustrations and graphics are very helpful. I really enjoyed each lesson.
Date published: 2021-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Super lecture by a super lecturer. This man could make a course on mud hilarious and interesting. He clearly knows his subject inside and out and enjoys teaching it. All of his courses are great investments.
Date published: 2021-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fun Course! This is definitely one of the most fun courses I have ever taken. Professor Arthur Benjamin is enjoyable to watch. I was completely amazed to learn the mathematics behind all of these games and puzzles. Definitely a fun course about mathematics...and one that takes away the stress rather than adding to it.
Date published: 2020-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I Really Enjoyed the Course This was really fun. Dr. Benjamin gives a "sampler" or how to solve various puzzles/games. He does this in a very interesting matter using lots of visuals and props. While I don't think you could be an expert chess or backgammon player solely form watching this course, you will certainly learn enough to find out how you could be. I liked the course so much, I may even go buy a Rubik's Cube. My only complaint would be the 45 minute format. I prefer the 30 minute format but since I knew this going in ......
Date published: 2019-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun and Informative Like the fact I can go to any section and listen again and again. Also like the fact that so many other lectures were added to my library at no additional cost.
Date published: 2018-12-09
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Win games and puzzles more often with this fun and helpful course that teaches the mathematical underpinnings of games, including blackjack, poker, sudoku, and more!


Arthur T. Benjamin

As a professor, I have always wanted to bring math to the masses. The Great Courses has helped make that dream come true.


Harvey Mudd College

Arthur T. Benjamin is the Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. He earned a PhD in Mathematical Sciences from Johns Hopkins University. His teaching has been honored by the Mathematical Association of America, and he was named to The Princeton Review’s list of the Best 300 Professors. He has also served as president of the Fibonacci Association. A professional magician, he is the author of the book The Magic of Math, a New York Times bestseller. He has appeared on numerous television and radio programs and has been featured in Scientific American and The New York Times.

By This Professor

The Joy of Mathematics
The Secrets of Mental Math
The Mathematics of Games and Puzzles: From Cards to Sudoku
Math and Magic
Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Ratio
The Mathematics of Games and Puzzles: From Cards to Sudoku


Let the Games Begin!

01: Let the Games Begin!

Explore some general strategies for successfully solving simple games and puzzles. As you hone your skills at games and puzzles, including 20 Questions, Mastermind, Ghost, The Tower of Hanoi, variations of Tic Tac Toe, and Cram (a cross between checkers and dominoes), you'll start seeing how mathematical ideas and concepts-including the strategy of working backward and the exploitation of symmetry...

49 min
Games of Chance and Winning Wagers

02: Games of Chance and Winning Wagers

Turn now to games that rely heavily on chance and betting, such as roulette and craps, and learn how to evaluate the fairness (or unfairness) of games using the ever-important concept of expected value. Once you know if a game is to your advantage or not, you can use the Kelly criterion or the Gambler's Ruin formula to help you decide your best wagering strategies.

45 min
Optimal Blackjack and Simple Card Counting

03: Optimal Blackjack and Simple Card Counting

Depending on how you play it, blackjack can be the best or the worst game in a casino. Here, Professor Benjamin shows you how to get the best of blackjack before it gets the best of you. By taking you through scenarios of increasing difficulty to strengthen your skills, and by demonstrating the secrets of simple card counting, he reveals optimal strategies for knowing when to stand, when to hit, w...

45 min
Mixed Strategies and the Art of Bluffing

04: Mixed Strategies and the Art of Bluffing

What happens when you're playing a game with an intelligent adversary whose goals are opposed to yours? You have a zero-sum game such as penny matching, rock-paper-scissors, and simplified poker. Discover how to use math to bluff, play unpredictably, and win these kinds of games through powerful strategies including the equilibrium strategy (which guarantees the highest expected payoff without all...

40 min
Practical Poker Probabilities

05: Practical Poker Probabilities

Investigate the mathematical backbone of Texas Hold'em, one of the most popular traditional poker games. What is the probability your hand will improve before and after more cards are revealed? How do you calculate your "pot odds" to help you determine your proper wagering decisions? As you enhance your mathematical poker-playing skills, you'll find the answers to these and other questions about t...

44 min
Expert Backgammon

06: Expert Backgammon

Mathematically trained players also have a decisive edge in backgammon, which trains you to make decisions in highly uncertain conditions. Professor Benjamin explains the rules of the game, the basic strategies for winning, the best ways to play your opening rolls, and how math constantly enters the picture-from figuring out the safest way to move your checkers to the all-important doubling cube.

44 min
Games You Can't Lose and Sneaky Puzzles

07: Games You Can't Lose and Sneaky Puzzles

The world of games is filled with scams. The trick: knowing the strategies behind how these hustles work so you can avoid being exploited (and learn some engaging insights into math at the same time). Explore the fundamentals of nontransitive properties through penny ante, Bingo, and games involving dice and cards. Then, get a lively introduction to some simple puzzles involving cups, coins, and t...

44 min

08: Solving "Impossible" Puzzles

Try your hand at some classic puzzles that have been driving people crazy for centuries involving sliding blocks, jumping pegs, and blinking lights-each of which deals heavily with odd or even numbers. Once you've learned some handy mathematical concepts and tools for solving these puzzles-including mod 2 arithmetic, vector equations, and mnemonic devices-these fun and exciting games won't seem so...

45 min
Mastering Rubik's Cube

09: Mastering Rubik's Cube

It's one of the most famous puzzles ever invented. But Professor Benjamin has an easy-to-learn, eight-step method for solving this mind-bending puzzle quickly and accurately-every time. After examining the mathematics behind the cube and pondering how many different cube positions are possible, you'll follow him step-by-step through an algorithm (taught to Professor Benjamin by a world-champion cu...

46 min
Solving Sudoku

10: Solving Sudoku

What's the key to solving Sudoku problems when you're at your wits' end? Training your mind to look for patterns and to use careful logic, just like mathematicians. This lecture is packed with helpful techniques and strategies for overcoming even the most difficult Sudoku grids. Among those you'll learn about: crosshatching, miniboxes, naked pairs and triples, and the unique rectangle rule. These ...

50 min
Mathematics and Chess

11: Mathematics and Chess

Chess is more like doing real mathematics than almost any other game out there. You'll get a quick overview of how the game is played; learn how to draw connections between math and chess; explore some classic chess puzzles and problems; tap into the power of strategies and tactics for the opening, middle, and end game; and get some insider tips that are sure to improve your game the next time you...

45 min
Winning Ways-It's Your Move!

12: Winning Ways-It's Your Move!

Finish this engaging series with a look back at the three categories that most games fall into (games where the last player to move wins, games where the goal is to be the first to create a structure, and games where the player who accumulates the most stuff wins). Cram, NIM, Chomp, Connect Four-play them all. Also, take a look at how computers play games-and how they've helped us become better p...

47 min