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Trading Bases: A Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball (Not Necessarily in That Order) [Hardcover]

Joe Peta

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Book Description

March 12 2013
An ex–Wall Street trader improved on Moneyball’s famed sabermetrics to place bets that would beat the Vegas odds on Major League Baseball games—with a 41 percent return in his first year. Trading Bases explains how he did it.

After the fall of Lehman Brothers, Joe Peta was out of a job. He found a new one but lost that, too, when an ambulance mowed him down. In search of a way to cheer himself up while he recuperated in a wheelchair, Peta started watching baseball again, as he had growing up. That’s when inspiration hit: Why not apply his outstanding risk-analysis skills to improve on sabermetrics, the method made famous by Moneyball—and beat the only market in town, the Vegas betting line? Why not treat MLB like the S&P 500?

In Trading Bases, Peta shows how to subtract luck—in particular “cluster luck,” as he puts it—from a team’s statistics to best predict how it will perform in the next game and over the whole season. His baseball “hedge fund” returned an astounding 41 percent in 2011—and has never been down more than 5 percent. Peta takes readers to the ballpark in San Francisco, trading floors and baseball bars in New York, and sports books in Vegas, all while tracing the progress of his wagers. Often humorous, occasionally touching, and with a wink toward the sheer implausibility of the whole project, Trading Bases is all about the love of critical reasoning, trading cultures, risk management, and baseball. And not necessarily in that order.

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Trading Bases: A Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball (Not Necessarily in That Order) + Hedge Hogs: The Cowboy Traders Behind Wall Street's Largest Hedge Fund Disaster + The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader's Tale of Spectacular Excess
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Review

"You don’t have to be a baseball analyst or former stock trader to connect with Trading Bases...Trading Bases will help you to be that fan." - Dallas Morning News

About the Author

JOE PETA was a Wall Street market maker and hedge fund stock trader for fifteen years. A sports bettor for even longer and a lifelong baseball fan, he lives in San Francisco.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IPOs, RBIs, and LOLs. March 7 2013
By takingadayoff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Trading Bases is an appealing mix of memoir, baseball stats, and gambling strategy. By combining the elements, author Joe Peta has managed to make a book that could have been too detailed for anyone but the most dedicated baseball fan or gamblers, into a narrative that reaches beyond those groups. Peta's amiable style is also a real plus -- this could easily have been another ego-driven story about the wonderfulness of a former Wall Street insider and his financial brilliance. Instead, Peta manages to convey his success and chops without coming across as what Michael Lewis called a BSD in Liar's Poker.

Be warned however, that if you are hoping for a black box method to riches or a sure-fire formula to instant wealth, you won't find it here. Peta is a huge baseball fan, and doesn't mind spending hours every day poring over statistics and crunching numbers. He also is deeply into odds and probabilities. If you are too, then there are enough graphs and charts in the book to make your mouth water. Peta has found a way not to beat the odds, but to make sure you only bet when the odds are in your favor. It takes a lot of time and math, and if you aren't seriously interested in baseball and numbers, this isn't the plan for you.

As a fun read though, if you just zip past the charts and formulas, there's an engaging story here by an author that knows his stuff and still seems like a nice guy.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crunching MLB's Numbers for Profit* March 9 2013
By Larry Underwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Joe Peta seemed to have it made, landing a very lucrative job with a Japanese investment bank on Wall Street. Unfortunately, fate dealt him a bad hand - or in this case, a badly injured leg - after an out-of-control ambulance put the pedestrian in a wheel chair for an extended period of time, and ultimately out of that very lucrative job; just like that.

As Peta was recuperating, he would immerse himself in the latest Baseball Prospectus for hours on end, to take his mind off his plight; at least for a while. One day he had a brainstorm - he would apply his analytical knowledge of baseball, crunch the numbers, and develop a model for predicting with a relatively high level of probability, how the games themselves would play out. He was going to beat Las Vegas; not an easy proposition, but one that ultimately paid a very nice annual return - 41% to be exact.

As Peta's engaging tale unfolds, he walks the reader through the various formulas for predicting certain outcomes in MLB, and how luck - good or bad -sometimes comes into play in making things unpredictable. The baseball sabermetric community will love this book, as will anyone who likes to gamble a bit, or figure out what's going to happen on Wall Street.

Of course, the usual disclaimer applies here: *The results were attained by a trained professional. Your results may vary.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dugout Full of Unexpected Charm March 10 2013
By Girl of Summer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It starts with the dedication.

Before you ever get to a word about Wall Street, about gambling, or even baseball in Joe Peta's memoir, there is an 11 word dedication -- shorter than the average tweet -- that gives you a clue Trading Bases isn't your run-of-the-mill book about any of those topics. I won't reveal it here, but it's sweet, funny and charming and by the time I got to the middle of the book where the numbers-heavy passages subtlely morphed into unexpectedly charming storytelling, I realized, just like the "not necessarily in that order" subtitle, it provided a clue as to what was to come.

The chapters dealing with sabermetrics -- the science of baseball statistics Peta credits men like Bill James and Nate Silver with creating -- are fortunately filled with pop culture references and analogies not related to numbers so that they read easily, even for those who are inclined to skip the tables scattered across those early chapters. But once the foundation of those early chapters are set, they serve as a starting point for discussions on Lehman Brothers, the financial crisis, the similarities between Las Vegas bookmakers and Wall Street traders and, of course, being a baseball fan. It's the baseball discussions -- the experience of enjoying a game in a bar with friends, the oh-so-American tradition of having a catch with your dad, etc -- that are so moving I found myself reaching for tissues. Chapter 12 alone, which I won't spoil with details, earns this book 5 stars.

It won't surprise me if the gamblers and traders that share Joe's interests love this book. What might shock them is how much their wives and parents do too.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put on Your Thinking Cap June 13 2013
By Blue Wave - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you are an observer of Wall Street, baseball, or just gambling in general, you need to read this account of a personal journey from an individual who really started as a technician and ended up as a statesman and consultant. The best part is that he kept his roots of family and what makes a well founded personal life (keeping his roots in San Francisco when issues developed in his journey of challenges).

This is readable, yet challenges one to grasp mathematical concepts and analysis that can serve as great brain teasers.

Anyone can get better at whatever they are trying to do by this read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read June 3 2013
By nate smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great book. Would recommend to anyone that is a gambler, baseball fan, or both. The only issue is that it isn't longer.
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