In the TV game show “The Price is Right”, contestants that win individual gamings advance, in teams of three, to compete in one more game referred to as “The big Wheel”. The winner that this game advancements to the “Showcase Showdown” whereby there is a chance to victory very huge prizes.

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The large Wheel

The large wheel is similar to a roulette wheel, but an installed on that is edge. The wheel has 20 sections showing cash values from $0.05 come $1.00 in 5¢ increments. Contestants spin the wheel with the target of gaining as close come $1.00 as possible (without going over). In ~ the finish of their an initial spin, castle are given the choice of turn again. If castle spin a 2nd time, the value derived on the second spin is added to that first spin, and this is your total. Over there is no choice to spin more than twice.

Each contestant goes come the wheel and also spins (once or twice). The player that gets closest to $1.00, there is no going over, developments to the “Showcase Showdown”.

In the occasion of a win tie score, the tied football player spin again (one spin just Vasily), together a tie-break to determine the winner (repeating the process, if necessary). This is dubbed a “Spin off”

There is also a bonus payout if any kind of player spins precisely $1.00 on either one or two spins. Ns going to disregard this truth in my evaluation under the expertise that the potential financial value of the showcase showdown is significantly greater than the bonus prize. Explicitly: if a player is in a to win position, however with a score of less than $1.00, they would certainly not rotate again to risk busting, on the off opportunity they would score precisely $1.00 to insurance claim the additional bonus.

Here is the succession of exactly how the numbers appear on the wheel. They are distributed fairly randomly roughly the wheel. If the numbers to be clustered, or arranged in to decrease order, then a skillful player might attempt come gauge simply how hard to rotate the wheel to land in a cluster of low scoring numbers and also minimize the opportunity of busting.

10 45 70 25 90 5 100 15 80 35 60 20 40 75 55 95 50 85 30 65

There"s at the very least $0.20 difference between any type of two surrounding numbers on the wheel.



What is the optimal strategy? need to a player spin an ext than once?

Clearly, if lock spin a 2nd time, yes a possibility that they room going to bust, yet is this risk worth it?


Two human game

Let’s leveling the video game to make it much easier to analyze. Let’s imagine there are just two players, no three.

To understand the optimal strategy for each player, we job-related in turning back order.

Second player strategy


The strategy the the second player is quite simple. In fact, there is no real decision come make. The second player simply spins till he to win the very first player, or busts, that’s it! that an advantage to go second as you already know the target you have to beat. Friend never need to decide “Is mine score an excellent enough?”

If, top top their very first spin, the second player win the very first player’s score, castle stop, having won.

If lock spin a score reduced than the an initial player, they spin again, irrespective of what their an initial spin was. They have nothing to lose! not spinning again is an immediate loss. Turn again, even when there is a high risk of busting, is the only method they was standing a chance of winning.

What wake up if over there is a tie? If there is a tie ~ above the 2nd spin, that a push, and it goes come a spin-off. A slightly trickier situation is what to execute if there is a tie ~ above the an initial spin: should the second player bank the tie and force a spin-off (for which over there is a 50:50 possibility of a win), or threat a second spin to win outright? This relies on the value of the tie. Anything less than $0.50, and it’s much more advantageous come spin again (you have much better than 50:50 of not busting on a second spin, c.f. A 50:50 opportunity on a spin-off).

We have the right to see clearly that the second player has the advantage. The strategy is also simple: turn again if you"ve not won. In the occasion of a tie, turn again if you have less than $0.50.

What is the optimal strategy for the an initial player? What need to his strategy it is in to maximize his possibilities of winning?

First player strategy


The optimal strategy for the an initial player is more complex. The first player needs to decide, “Is my score an excellent enough?” at the finish of their first spin. Must they bank, or spin again? They need to decide this based upon the reality that the second player will immediately go because that bust/win through no regrets.

The key question is must the first player take an additional spin and, that course, the answer to this depends on what the very first spin was. If the an initial spin is low, he will spin again. Alternatively, if the an initial spin is high, he will bank, and also not hazard busting. How high is adequate to bank, knowing that the 2nd player has actually nothing to shed when lock spin?

“Is my score an excellent enough?”

To recognize this answer we need to work out two probabilities:

The probability that, if he stands, the first player’s current score will certainly win.

The probability that, if he spins again, the brand-new score will certainly win (understanding there is also a possibility of busting).

After calculating these two probabilities, the player have to take the action of the highest possible probability. These probabilities depend on the worth of the first spin and, together we will see, there will be a value where these two probabilities overcome over and also we have the right to condense the optimal strategy down to a an easy stopping rule.

That is the theory, currently let’s crunch the number …


There room a range of techniques we deserve to use to calculation these two probabilities, and in the interests of diversity, I’ll display two various deterministic ways. (Another possible way to calculate the optimal strategy would be to straightforward use a Monte-Carlo simulation to version the game. It’s not a facility system and a with a reasonable random number generator, and also a couple of hundred thousand ‘spins’, a reasonably accurate simulation deserve to be obtained. For each feasible stopping condition, a plurality that trials can be run, and the stopping problem that outcomes on the best odds would be the optimal strategy).

Player one always sticking

We"ll an initial calculate the odds the the very first player win if lock stick through their very first spin, irrespective of what the spin is. Let"s attract a tree diagram to watch all that might happen. To simplify the numbers, we"ll transform the price from $0.05 – $1.00 to numbers 1–20, by splitting by 5¢ (so $0.05 corresponds to 1, and $1.00 synchronizes to 20).


It looks a small complicated, but it"s not really that bad. Let"s study things from the left. Player 1 has actually just spun, and also we"re modelling what happens if the stands, not matter what that obtains. Now the 2nd player spins. 3 things can happen:

The second player scores higher. This is an prompt win because that the 2nd player. We understand what the an initial player be crazy (P1), therefore we understand that the number of prices the beat this (20-P1), and the probability of the 2nd player spinning among these worths is (20-P1)/20.

It"s possible that the 2nd player could spin the very same score together the an initial player on a single spin. This occurs one time in twenty. What happens in this tie relies on the value of the tie. If the worth of the tie is greater than 10 ($0.50), then it is in the finest interest that the second player come bank and force a rotate off. A spin off is 50:50 chance, and with a score of higher than 10 it"s much more likely 보다 this the the 2nd player will certainly bust if the spins again.If the tie is much less than 10, then 2nd player has far better odds of not busting than 50:50, so need to spin again. The specific odds depend on the value of the tie. If the tie is at 1 ($0.05), there is just one number ~ above a second spin that would cause a bust ($1.00). If the tie is 2 ($0.10), there room two numbers ($1.00, $0.95) … The probability the the second player busting ~ above this branch is P1/20.

Lastly, over there is a opportunity that the second player"s turn is much less than the very first player"s. This reasons an automatic second spin because that the second player, and the below tree come the lower right. In this sub tree over there are 4 states: Bust, Tie, Win, and also Loss.

Let"s use a table to display screen all this information:

P1 SPINPr(P2 win)Pr(Tie)Pr(roll again)V(tie)Pr(Win second spin)EV(2nd spin)FINAL
$0.05 0.950.
$0.10 0.900.
$0.15 0.850.
$0.20 0.800.
$0.25 0.750.
$0.30 0.700.050.250.300.250.2750.08375
$0.35 0.650.050.300.350.300.3250.11500
$0.40 0.600.050.350.400.350.3750.15125
$0.45 0.550.050.400.450.400.4250.19250
$0.50 0.500.050.450.500.450.4750.23875
$0.55 0.450.050.500.500.500.5250.28750
$0.60 0.400.050.550.500.550.5750.34125
$0.65 0.350.050.600.500.600.6250.40000
$0.70 0.300.050.650.500.650.6750.46375

The very first column in the table over is what the first player rolled. The next three columns display the probabilities that the three instances (Instant P2 win, tie, P2 to role again without tie). These three probabilities, of course, add up to 1.0

The instant loss to P2 has actually no value to P1. The next column over shows the value to P1 on a tie. A tie in ~ a value >$0.50 is 0.5. The smaller sized the P1, the lower the expected possibility of a victory for P1. This value encapsulates the intended value the either second P2 role on the present total, or a spin-off at 50:50

The probability the the an initial player will still it is in winning after the second roll is, interestingly, the exact same as the probability the a second roll will certainly happen. This have the right to be visualized through imaginining this as a rojo window. Every little thing P2 rolls as their first spin, there are some second spins that will cause a bust, and also there room some that will certainly not be sufficient. Combine these, the variety of "winning" spaces because that the 2nd player go not rely on the value of the first spin native P2.

This is shown below. Imagine that P1 rolling $0.25. In the table below, along the top, room all possible values for the second spin, and down the left room the possible values that the 2nd player"s very first spin could have been.


As we understand that P2 did not instantly success (or tie) there are four possible values the they could have obtained: $0.05, $0.10, $0.15, or $0.20. Every of these is depecited together a row on the table above. Because that each heat there is one feasible value that outcomes in a tie (dark red), and also four other values that an outcome in a loss because that player 2 (either because they will cause a bust, or not be high enough value come secure a win). This illustrates the sliding home window that the number of "winning" spin values is agnostic of the first spin the the 2nd player.

The meant value of a second roll is one enacapuslation of a 1/20 chance of a tie (which is precious 0.5 come player one), and probability that a success outright after the 2nd roll.

The last column top top the right, in green, reflects the expected result based on remaining at that P1 value. This is produced by adding (logical OR) every of the expected values the the three branches: zero worth from an instant loss, to add Pr(tie) × Value(tie), to add Pr(roll again) × EV(2nd roll).

The final values range for a meagre 0.25% (if the very first player be crazy a $0.05 and also banked, climate the 2nd player likewise rolled $0.05 and, ~ above his second spin, to be unlucky enough to role a $1.00, and bust out, offering the an initial player the victory = 1/20 × 1/20), with to 95.125% whereby P1 rolled a $1.00, and also so did the 2nd player, and also then the very first player lost out in a 50:50 spin turn off (it"s no symmetrical v the $0.05, because there room multiple means the 2nd player have the right to score $1.00, either from a organic $1.00 top top their very first spin, or miscellaneous combinations of two spins that include up come $1.00).

On average, if the first player constantly stands after their an initial spin, their supposed winning chance, averaged over every values, is just 34%.

Player one constantly rolling again

We have actually just calculation the winning possibilities if P1 constantly stands. Now let"s calculate the winning possibilities if P1 constantly spins again. We can use the very same strategy, but let"s watch at another way.

Another easy method to calculate the odds is to just enumerate the end all feasible combinations that spins. Computers are very good at this. There are 20 possible values for what a the an initial player"s an initial spin might be, and also 20 possible values because that what the first player"s 2nd spin can be, and also similary 20 feasible values for each of other two 2nd player"s spins. This 20 × 20 × 20 × 20 = 160,000 combinations. Utilizing a computer system program, and also four nested loops, we have the right to just cycle v each of these, and record the variety of times this outcomes in a success for P1, the number of times this results in loss for P1, and also the number of times the results in a tie.

P1 SPIN# Wins# Losses# TiesTotalFINAL
$0.05 2514507641080000.3398750
$0.10 2511508040980000.3394375
$0.15 2504508940780000.3384375
$0.20 2491510540480000.3366250
$0.25 2470513040080000.3337500
$0.30 2439516639580000.3295625
$0.35 2396521538980000.3238125
$0.40 2339527938280000.3162500
$0.45 2266536037480000.3066250
$0.50 2185547034580000.2946875
$0.55 2085560031580000.2803125
$0.60 1964575228480000.2632500
$0.65 1820592825280000.2432500
$0.70 1651613021980000.2200625
$0.75 1455636018580000.1934375
$0.80 1230662015080000.1631250
$0.85 974691211480000.1288750
$0.90 68572387780000.0904375
$0.95 36176003980000.0475625
$1.00 08000080000.0000000

There room a full of 8,000 possible combinations for each initial value of rotate of P1. This are displayed in the table above. The following three columns show the number that an outcome in a victory for P1, those ther result in a loss, and also those that result in a tie. The last column mirrors the complete expected result for that row (Wins scoring 1.0, casualty scoring 0.0, and also ties scoring 0.5).

You can see that spinning again ~ spinning $1.00 top top the very first spin is suicide; over there is no way this can an outcome in a victory or a tie.

(The complete average supposed return over all numbers is just 24.44% meaning that if you had to play a Russian Roulette version of this video game as the first player, only spin once! The reason for this lower percentage is that you don"t obtain a choice, and also can"t capitalize ~ above a learning you had a high early score and also to bank; the second player still has eyes come gauge best strategy, and if you"ve bust out, they space an prompt winner).


We now have actually all the data we need. Right here are the two results tables combined:

$0.05 0.00250000.3398750
$0.10 0.00875000.3394375
$0.15 0.02000000.3384375
$0.20 0.03625000.3366250
$0.25 0.05750000.3337500
$0.30 0.08375000.3295625
$0.35 0.11500000.3238125
$0.40 0.15125000.3162500
$0.45 0.19250000.3066250
$0.50 0.23875000.2946875
$0.55 0.28750000.2803125
$0.60 0.34125000.2632500
$0.65 0.40000000.2432500
$0.70 0.46375000.2200625
$0.75 0.53250000.1934375
$0.80 0.60625000.1631250
$0.85 0.68500000.1288750
$0.90 0.76875000.0904375
$0.95 0.85750000.0475625
$1.00 0.95125000.0000000

For every feasible value for the very first spin, we deserve to see the expected result if us stay, or if we spin again. For each situation, us take the greater value. You deserve to see that once the first spin is low, the is helpful to spin again. When the an initial spin is high, the best strategy is to was standing (no surprise so far). However, what this table does show is where the strategy inverts, and also this is at $0.55

On the first spin, if the very first player spins $0.55, or higher, he have to stand. If he spins reduced than $0.55, climate he need to spin again.

If the first player spins less than $0.55 on his very first spin, he have to spin again.

This linked strategy enhances the very first players opportunity of winning come 45.73%

Here is the data plotted. You can see how the bars cross over at $0.55


Player one"s probability of winning does not pass the 0.5 level until they turn $0.75 or higher, yet it is still in their best interest to protect against if castle score anything above $0.50

Three Players

With quite a bit much more work, this evaluation can be increased to work out the optimal strategy when there room three players. Again it"s vital to work-related in reverse order and also start through the strategy because that player 3. It"s further complicated because ties are much more involved. In the event you tie, only the players who tie walk to spin-off. If player 2 win player 1 and does no re-spin, climate the outcomes of player 1 space irrelevant. Similarly, if either the first or 2nd player busts, the third player only has to worry around one opponent.

There room various files written about this. Here is one that also discusses the results and also compares v the mental results of what resides players have done to Spin or no to spin, and also bring in the value of the bonus spin.

Here is a review of each players optimal strategy as soon as there are three players:

Player 1 spins again is she gets 65 or fewer points ~ above her very first spin.

Player 2 spins again if:

She spins 50 clues of fewer.

If she it s okay 65 or fewer and her score equals that the player 1.

If no spinning would certainly guarantee a loss.

Player 3 spinds again if:

She spins 50 points of fewer, and also ties through one other contestant.

If she it s okay 65 or fewer and also has ties through both previous contestant.

If not spinning would certainly guarantee a loss.

Triple spin Off


Hold on to your seats. Here"s a video of, very first a three-way tie, climate a pair fo two-spin ties.

You can uncover a finish list of all the short articles here.

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