"Mind-exercising and thought-provoking."—New Scientist If playing games is natural for humans, analyzing games is equally natural for mathematicians. Even the simplest of games involves the fundamentals of mathematics, such as figuring out the best move or the odds of a certain chance event. This entertaining and wide-ranging guide demonstrates how simple mathematical analysis can throw unexpected light on games of every type—games of chance, games of skill, games of chance and skill, and automatic games. Just how random is a card shuffle or a throw of the dice? Is bluffing a valid poker strategy? How can you tell if a puzzle is unsolvable? How large a role does luck play in games like golf and soccer? This book examines each of these issues and many others, along with the general principles behind such classic puzzles as peg solitaire and Rubik's cube. Lucid, instructive, and full of surprises, it will fascinate mathematicians and gamesters alike.