The Math of Winning Monopoly

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That beautiful mind and game theorist John Nash would be proud. “Stand-up Mathematician” Matt Parker recently took a hard look at the probabilities that come with playing Monopoly. He mapped out all potential outcomes for dice rolls, plugged them into some code, and then let his computer plot out a million rolls.

No matter how high the roll gets, the odds never seem to favor one outcome that much more significantly over another. Still, if a player knew how to work with all these figures, then a 0.451% difference might actually make a huge difference in the pursuit of buying up all nearby property. Parker was serious about checking the validity of his finding so, like any respectable big thinker, he pulled in another experimenter to compare results.

As it turned out, Dr. Hannah Fry had just examined Monopoly, too. Her approach was theoretical, while Parker’s was mathematical. Did their conclusions line up? Watch to see.

Is it a little tricky to keep track of their findings, even in such a friendly and conversational video? Well, there’s good reason Fry shares her finding in big books. Still, as good scientists, the two have made their data available through Dropbox for review and scrutiny. Parker put his code up, while Fry has posted charts of her results.

Here’s the question now, though. Does seeing all the probabilities of Monopoly dice rolls laid out so precisely enhance your enjoyment of the game or does it take all the fun out of it, like nutrition stats on a candy bar wrapper? Isn’t part of the enjoyment of the game based on gut feelings? And if somebody used this inside info to win, would you call them a cheater?

We’d like to know your answers to all these questions. Drop them in the talkback.

Featured Image Credit: Matt Parker

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