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Bridge, Probability & Information Robert F. Mackinnon

#1 User is offline   dustinst22 

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Posted 2011-June-28, 10:32

This is an excellent book. I've been reading Mackinnon's blog for a long time now and decided to check Bridge Probability and Information out as I enjoy his perspective coming from such a strong mathematics background. He's taken a subject which is incredibly dry and made it "readable" for those who are non-mathematicians. This is a very technical book that uses stories to make it more readable.

What I really liked is that it helped me in an area I needed improvement -- deducing a picture of the unseen hands using a posteriori probability and good counting methods. Most experts I talk to say this skill is at the top of their list in terms of importance. The author introduces a different method of counting that the reader is probably not familiar with. It took me quite a bit of practice to get used to, but once it became habit I'm able to picture the unseen hands much better. This book requires a lot of work, but well worth it.

Probability (a priori and a posteriori) is a very difficult/complex subject for a book to cover in depth, and someone with a combination of Mackinnon's mathematics and bridge background was needed in my opinion.
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#2 User is offline   Rossoneri 

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Posted 2011-June-28, 20:08

View Postdustinst22, on 2011-June-28, 10:32, said:

This is an excellent book. I've been reading Mackinnon's blog for a long time now and decided to check Bridge Probability and Information out as I enjoy his perspective coming from such a strong mathematics background. He's taken a subject which is incredibly dry and made it "readable" for those who are non-mathematicians. This is a very technical book that uses stories to make it more readable.

What I really liked is that it helped me in an area I needed improvement -- deducing a picture of the unseen hands using a posteriori probability and good counting methods. Most experts I talk to say this skill is at the top of their list in terms of importance. The author introduces a different method of counting that the reader is probably not familiar with. It took me quite a bit of practice to get used to, but once it became habit I'm able to picture the unseen hands much better. This book requires a lot of work, but well worth it.

Probability (a priori and a posteriori) is a very difficult/complex subject for a book to cover in depth, and someone with a combination of Mackinnon's mathematics and bridge background was needed in my opinion.


Pleased to see someone else enjoyed this book as much as I did!

I feel that I have personally gained some insight into making better plays at the table after reading this book. Agree that it is not an easy book to go through - and I am majoring in statistics so I am familiar with all the basic concepts. Do not expect to finish the book quickly, and do not despair if you get stuck along the way.

That said, I would only suggest reading the book if you are at least intermediate+ as there are more accessible books for lower skill levels.
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#3 User is offline   dustinst22 

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Posted 2011-June-28, 21:52

View PostRossoneri, on 2011-June-28, 20:08, said:

Pleased to see someone else enjoyed this book as much as I did!

I feel that I have personally gained some insight into making better plays at the table after reading this book. Agree that it is not an easy book to go through - and I am majoring in statistics so I am familiar with all the basic concepts. Do not expect to finish the book quickly, and do not despair if you get stuck along the way.

That said, I would only suggest reading the book if you are at least intermediate+ as there are more accessible books for lower skill levels.


Good point, this book is definitely Upper Intermediate to Advanced level. It's also helpful to be somewhat familiar with basic probability (a priori). As you mentioned, there are other books that help in this area and might be better to start off with such as Bridge Odds for Practical Players by Kelsey.

Even though this book is only 230 pages, it covers a lot of material.
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#4 User is offline   gwnn 

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Posted 2011-June-29, 06:34

One of the hands from this book was discussed here:
http://www.bridgebas...ty-information/
... and I can prove it with my usual, flawless logic.
      George Carlin
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#5 User is offline   ArcLight 

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Posted 2011-September-16, 08:09

OK, I will take a contrarian view - the book has some useful material but was (to me) annoyingly rambling and verbose. I was familiar with a lot of the material, but still got something out of it. The basic content is fine. But I do not recommend the book as it is poorly structured. It needs major rewriting/structuring/editing to make it more focused.
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#6 User is offline   Siegmund 

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Posted 2011-September-20, 22:58

Youll find several more reviews of this book, with both positive and negative opinions of it, toward the end of the old "book reviews" pinned thread. (It was around the time that we had a longish discussion of the merits of the book in-thread that the new subforum was proposed.)
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