Quant-Fund Manager Rode Algorithm to $710,000 in Blackjack Winnings

Hedge fund trade journal AR Magazine broke the story of Quantitative Investment Management co-founder Michael Geismar’s Las Vegas adventure. You know, the one about the hedgie who attends the SALT Conference and winds up with $250,000 in shrink-wrapped currency under his pillow? Mr. Geismar’s QIM manages $4.6 billion as a “totally systematic trader,” using models “to dictate whether we want to be long, short or flat in each of the markets that we trade.”

Those kinds of models are highly secretive things, which is why you’ll be mightily impressed by the Wall Street Journal’s reporting on the whiz-bang algorithm that fueled Mr. Geismar’s winnings—or at least, if you’re willing to understand “algorithm” as “one of those plastic card-y thingies they sell in casino gift shops.”

Or as the Journal put it,Mr. Geismar said he plays blackjack at casinos perhaps twice a year, and that he follows a simple strategy: follow the instructions on a blackjack strategy card he lays out on the table.”

Oh by the way department: Bringing Down the House author Ben Mezrich was SALT’s luncheon speaker on the second day of the conference, which is a sweet coincidence or an utterly horrifying factoid, depending on whether you manage a state pension fund or not. Quant-Fund Manager Rode Algorithm to $710,000 in Blackjack Winnings