Is Monopoly Fair?
Ever since we have purchased the Monopoly board game, it has become a weekend ritual for us. Almost every Friday/Saturday night Jo would pull out the board, currency, wooden dice, small houses and deed cards and spread them.
We are in for a surprise after playing the game for few weeks. As kids we thought the game is a GAME, ie random to high extent but fun. But as we develop an eye for the detail, the game does come out to be rather unfair. How else can you explain that one of us is paying rents through their noses to the other one owning reds and oranges and how else can you explain that the one who purchased properties next to GO seldom gets a visitor, including themselves. We started questioning, is monopoly fair? And thats where I set out to find it myself.
For starters, The monopoly board has 40 cells, and every player starts at GO. The moves are decided by sum of the faces on a 2 dice throw. If you get a double you get to throw again.
I have tried to simulate the game using excel. I have observed all the rules like community chest / chance cards, Jail and go to jail. But I have not observed doubles rule for I thought it had little impact on the outcome. I wanted to see if the expected probabilities of each cell (which is 1/40 or 2.5%) are close to the actual probabilities.
When I ran the simulation for 10000 dice throws for 4 players, the absolute difference between expected probabilities of each cell, color group are more or less near to the actual probabilities as you can see in the below charts. (click on them for bigger versions)
The maximum deviation is to the tune of 6% for individual cells and 1.93% for a color group (for there will be cancellations in color groups, as one cell gets more visitors the other would get less)
But that is not we experience when we play the game. We end up landing in Jail or a chance an awful lot of times more than we expect to land there. Thats because, no one ever plays a 10000 throw per person game, not in day to day versions. Its more like 200-400 throws. So when I ran the same experiment for 200 turns for 4 players, the results were more interesting as you can see them below.
As you can see the deviation in the actual probability and expected probability is huge. Some times 60% more for individual cells and 20% for color groups. This I guess explains the reason behind the Monopoly game strategies like buy anything in Orange and Red groups etc.
Obviously one fault of this experiment is if you run it again the actual probabilities are going to change in favor of something else. But almost always far from the expected results.
Write to me just in case you want to play around with my monopoly board game simulation excel sheet, I can mail it. The file is rather huge for upload.
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