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10C FST

25 March 2014

Magic 8 Spin

Description:

Magic 8 Spin costs ten dollars to play. The player is presented with eight doors, each

concealing a prize of $5, $15, or $0/$30 (this prize will be explained later). The player

selects a door, and proceeds to spin the wheel. This wheel has eight segments, labeled with

either a 1, a 2, or a 3. The number of doors displayed on the wheel (1, 2, or 3) are opened,

and their prizes are eliminated (the players selected door will never be chosen for elimination).

The player is given a choice: they may either stay with their current door or swap their door for a

different one (that has not been eliminated). If the player stays, their door is opened and they

receive the prize behind it. If they swap, they receive the prize behind the door they swap to

(whilst their previously chosen door will be opened and its prize eliminated). If their final door

contains $5 or $15, then they receive that prize immediately and the game ends. However, if

$0/$30 is revealed, the game isnt over and they have the chance to win $30. The player spins

the wheel again, and it must land on a 2 in order for them to win the $30. If it lands on a 1

10C FST

25 March 2014

or a 3, the player walks away with nothing.

Directions:

Press the spacebar to stop the wheel! The number it lands on determines the number of

doors that will be eliminated.

You must choose: stay with your door or swap to a different door, with a different prize!

Theoretical Probability:

As was previously stated, Magic 8 Spin begins with the player selecting a door, at

random, from a collection of eight. Each door contains one of three prizes, listed with the

number of doors containing them in Table 1.

Table 1

Possible Prizes and Doors Containing Them

Prize

Number of doors containing prize

$5

5

$15

2

$0/$30

1

Obviously, there are more low-value doors than high-value doors. This is a common

feature in all carnival games, and would defeat the purpose of the game (earning the operator

money) if not included. Notice that one door is listed as having a prize of $0/$30. This is

because, if the player selects this door, they receive the chance to win $30. Following the

exposure of this prize, the player is prompted to spin the wheel. Spinning a 2 earns them $30,

while spinning a 1 or a 3 earns them $0.

At the very beginning of the game, the probability of the player selecting a certain prize

can be found by dividing the number of doors that that prize appears behind by the total number

of doors (8).

10C FST

25 March 2014

P($5 prize) = 5/8 = 0.625

P($15 prize) = 2/8 = 0.25

P($0/$30 prize) = 1/8 = 0.125

Figure 2. Probabilities of Player Selecting Prize Values at Beginning of Game

In Figure 2, the probabilities of the player randomly selecting each prize type (from Table

1) were calculated. This was done by dividing the number of doors concealing each prize value

(Table 1) by the total number of doors (8). There is a higher probability that the player will select

a $5 door than a $15 or $0/$30 door, but such is the nature of the game.

In Figure 3, the games elimination spinner is displayed. After selecting a door at random,

the player spins the elimination spinner to determine how many doors the game will eliminate. It

is split into eight equally sized sections, two of which are 1, four of which are 2, and two of

which are 3. The probability that the spinner will land on a certain number can be calculated

in the same way that the door probabilities were calculated.

10C FST

25 March 2014

P(2 spin) = 4/8 = 0.5

P(3 spin) = 2/8 = 0.25

Figure 4. Probabilities of Elimination Spinner

As with the door probabilities in Figure 2, the probability of landing on each spinner

number was calculated by dividing the number of sections with the appropriate number by the

total number of sections (8). It may seem counterintuitive for 2 to have the greatest chance of

being spun; wouldnt it be better if 1 had the highest probability, thus eliminating as few doors

as possible? This will be addressed later.

At this point in the game, some doors are eliminated. It is important to note that the types

of doors that are eliminated for each spinner number are always the same, and are as follows:

It was important to standardize the prizes that were eliminated for each spinner number;

doing so simplified the process of calculating the theoretical probabilities associated with the

game.

The reason for P(2 spin) being greater than P(1 spin) and P(3 spin) (calculated in

Figure 3) should now be apparent. Spinning a 2 eliminates the greatest number of high-prize

doors ($15) whilst eliminating the lowest number of low-prize doors ($5). Through

extensive testing, it was found that this maximized the operators profit. Thus P(2 spin) is

greatest, despite that seeming counterintuitive.

10C FST

25 March 2014

Figure 5 displays a (somewhat complicated) tree diagram of Magic 8 Spin. The first

branches of the diagram represent the probabilities that the user will select each type of door at

the beginning of the game (calculated in Figure 2). The following branches represent the

10C FST

25 March 2014

elimination spinner probabilities (calculated in Figure 4). The next branches of the diagram

represent the players decision to switch or stay (S represents a decision to switch).

According to a study performed in 1998 (analyzing a similar game), participants switch

their door about 0.3 of the time (Friedman 935). This is the probability used in Figure 5 and all

proceeding calculations. Even if this probability is not an accurate representation of Magic 8

Spin players, it is of nearly no significance. Calculations (not included, for simplicitys sake)

with switching probabilities of 1 and 0 yielded expected values differing by only 1.6 cents.

Notice that there is only one branch coming from each did not switch block, and they

all have a probability of 1. This is because, if the player chooses not to switch their door, they

have a one hundred percent chance of receiving the prize they originally chose (whatever that

may be). Complexities occur, however, for all situations where the player chooses to switch their

door. The probability of selecting a door after switching depends on many things, including

which doors have been eliminated and which door was originally picked.

P($5 | $5 1) =

P($15 | $5 1) =

P($0/$30 | $5 1) =

P($5 | $5 2) =

P($15 | $5 2) =

P($0/$30 | $5 2) =

P($5 | $5 3) =

P($15 | $5 3) =

P($0/$30 | $5 3) =

P($5 | $15 1) =

P($15 | $15 1) =

P($0/$30 | $15 1) =

P($5 | $15 2) =

P($15 | $15 2) =

3/6 = 0.5

2/6 = 0.3333

1/6 = 0.1667

3/5 = 0.6

1/5 = 0.2

1/5 = 0.2

2/4 = 0.5

1/4 = 0.25

1/4 = 0.25

4/6 = 0.6667

1/6 = 0.1667

1/6 = 0.1667

4/5 = 0.8

0/5 = 0

P($0/$30 | $15 2) =

P($5 | $15 3) =

P($15 | $15 3) =

P($0/$30 | $15 3) =

P($5 | $0/$30 1) =

P($15 | $0/$30 1) =

P($0/$30 | $0/$30 1) =

P($5 | $0/$30 2) =

P($15 | $0/$30 2) =

P($0/$30 | $0/$30 2) =

P($5 | $0/$30 3) =

P($15 | $0/$30 3) =

P($0/$30 | $0/$30 3) =

1/5 = 0.2

3/4 = 0.75

0/4 = 0

1/4 = 0.25

4/6 = 0.6667

2/6 = 0.3333

0/6 = 0

4/5 = 0.8

1/5 = 0.2

0/5 = 0

3/4 = 0.75

1/4 = 0.25

0/4 = 0

Figure 6 shows the calculations for all the possible situations when the player decides to

switch. Each line, P(W | X Y) = Z, should be read as, If the player decides to switch, the

probability that they will choose a(n) W door if they originally chose a(n) X door and spun

a(n) Y on the spinner is Z. All the probabilities were found using the same general formula:

(number of possible successes) / (total number of possibilities). Each probability is unique

because the number of total possibilities (doors to switch to) depends on the number spun, and

the number of possible successes depends on the number spun and the door that the player

originally chose. For example, if the player spun a 2 and originally chose a $15 door, the

probability of them switching to a $15 door is 0 because there are no more $15 doors for

them to switch to.

Table 2

Probability Distribution of Prizes

Prize

P(Prize)

$0

$5

$15

$30

Total

0.070547

0.625469

0.233438

0.070547

1

In Table 2, the probability of winning each type of prize was calculated. These

probabilities all add up to 1, as they should. Figures 5 and 6 were utilized during calculations.

In order to calculate the probability of each individual prize, the probabilities of all branches

ending with that prize were added together. One of these lengthy calculations is included in

Figure 7.

P(Winning $15) =

(0.625*0.25*0.3*(2/6)) + (0.625*0.5*0.3*(1/5)) + (0.625*0.25*0.3*(1/4)) +

(0.25*0.25*0.3*(1/6)) + (0.25*0.5*0.3*(0/5)) + (0.25*0.25*0.3*(0/4)) +

(0.25*0.7) = 0.233438

Figure 7. Calculating the Probability of Winning $15

Calculating the probability of winning $15 may seem complicated, but it is actually

relatively simple. The first nine terms of the formula represent the different branches on the tree

diagram (Figure 5) that result in the player winning $15. The first number in each term is a

probability of picking a door at the beginning (calculated in Figure 2), the second number is a

probability of getting a number on the spinner (calculated in Figure 4), the third number is the

probability that the player will switch (0.3), and the final number is the probability of getting a

$15 door given the previous criteria (calculated in Figure 6). All of these are summed up, as

well as the probability of choosing the $15 door at the beginning and not switching.

Given the probabilities of winning each prize, the expected value of Magic 8 Spin can

be calculated.

E ( winnings )=( 00.070547 )+ ( 50.625469 ) + ( 150.233438 ) + ( 300.070547 )

8.745313

The expected winnings were found by multiplying each prize value by its probability

(from Table 2) and adding those products together. It was found that the player can expect to win

$8.745313 every game. Because Magic 8 Spin costs $10 to play, this means that the operator

can expect to gain $10 - $8.745313 $1.25 per game. This figure could generate substantial

revenue over time.

Relative Frequencies:

Three simulations were run to determine relative frequencies associated with Magic 8

Spin. The first simulation included 50 trials, all of which were completed by a human

volunteer. The second simulation included 500 trials, all of which were completed by a

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The third simulation included 5,000 trials, all of which were

completed by a Java program.

Trial 1

Table 3

Data Summary from Trial 1

Times player won $0

3

Times player won $5

37

Times player won $15

7

Times player won $30

3

Money spent

$500

Money won

$380

$7.6

Average money won

5

Profit for operator

$120

Average profit for

$2.3

operator

5

Table 3 shows a summary of the 50 games that the human volunteer played. It appears

that the player won $5 many more times than average, and that the average profit for the operator

was much greater than the expected profit, $1.25.

Table 4

Comparing Relative Frequency to Probability for Trial 1

Relative frequency

Probability

Won $0

0.06

0.070547

Won $5

0.74

0.625469

Won $15

0.14

0.233438

Won $30

0.06

0.070547

Table 4 displays the relative frequencies of each prize (calculated by dividing the number

of times each prize was won by the number of trials, 50) alongside the theoretical probabilities of

winning each prize. The relative frequencies of $0 and $30 were both fairly close to their

respective theoretical probabilities. However, the player won $5 about 0.12 more than expected,

and won $15 about 0.12 less than expected. This was unfortunate for the player, but quite

beneficial for the operator, earning him $1.10 more per game than expected.

The differences between relative frequency and probability disprove the supposed Law

of Averages. Each game was independent from the last, so the overall probability of

losing/winning stayed the same in each game. Because the player lost more money than

expected, that does not mean that they were due to win extra money. There is no guarantee

that the player will win $5 exactly 0.68 of the time (or any other prize, for that matter); the

probability is merely a prediction of what the average should be.

Trial 2

The Excel document that was created to simulate 500 trials of Magic 8 Spin was quite

complicated. Each trial was a row, and each column was a different event during the trial. The

first column was a random value, 1 through 3, that denoted which door was selected at the

beginning (the numbers had the appropriate probabilities of being selected, of course). The

second column was another random value, 1 through 3, that denoted the number of doors to be

eliminated. The third column held a value, either 0 or 1, to represent the players decision to

switch. The fourth column held a complex formula to decide which door the player ended with.

=IF(C2=1,IF(A2=1,IF(B2=1,IF(RANDBETWEEN(1,6)<=3,1,IF(RANDBETWEEN(1,3)<=2,2,3

)),IF(B2=2,IF(RANDBETWEEN(1,5)<=3,1,IF(RANDBETWEEN(1,2)<=1,2,3)),IF(RANDBET

WEEN(1,4)<=2,1,IF(RANDBETWEEN(1,2)<=1,2,3)))),IF(A2=2,IF(B2=1,IF(RANDBETWEE

N(1,6)<=4,1,IF(RANDBETWEEN(1,2)<=1,2,3)),IF(B2=2,IF(RANDBETWEEN(1,5)<=4,1,3),I

F(RANDBETWEEN(1,4)<=3,1,3))),IF(B2=1,IF(RANDBETWEEN(1,6)<=4,1,2),IF(B2=2,IF(R

ANDBETWEEN(1,5)<=4,1,2),IF(RANDBETWEEN(1,4)<=3,1,2))))),A2)

Figure 9. Complex Door Selection Formula

The formula calculates the door type, 1, 2, or 3, that the player ended up with in the

second row of the spreadsheet. Using several IF formulas, it determines which probabilities

should be used based on the door that was originally picked and the number of doors to be

eliminated. Every single cell in the fourth column contained a variation of this formula,

providing the brains of the simulation.

Table 5

Comparing Actual Winnings with Expected Winnings for Excel Document

Actual Expected

Won $0

30

35.27

Won $5

342

312.73

Won $15

92

116.72

Won $30

36

35.27

Table 5 shows the actual number of prize occurrences in the Excel spreadsheet alongside

the expected number of prize occurrences. The expected values for each prize were determined

by multiplying the probability of winning each prize (calculated in Table 2) by 500 (the total

number of trials). If this simulation were used to estimate an operators profit, the result would

be different from the theoretical expected value.

E ( winnings )=

30

342

92

36

0 )+(

5 )+(

15 )+ (

30) =$ 8.34

( 500

500

500

500

The average winnings in the simulation, $8.34, were quite a bit lower than the expected

average winnings, $8.75 (calculated in Figure 8). The difference is $0.41, which is a smaller

difference than the previous simulation but is still relatively high.

Trial 3

number = 1 + (int)(Math.random() * ((8 - 1) + 1));

open = 1 + (int)(Math.random() * ((4 - 1) + 1));

if(open == 1){ swi = 1 + (int)(Math.random() * ((10 - 1) + 1));

if(swi == 1){ number2 = 1 + (int)(Math.random() * ((7 - 1) + 1));

if(number2 == 1){ thirtyZero = 1 + (int)(Math.random() * ((2 - 1) + 1));

if(thirtyZero

else if(thirtyZero ==

}

if(number2 ==

if(number2 ==

if(number2 ==

if(number2 ==

if(number2 ==

if(number2 ==

}

== 2) highPrL = highPrL + 1;

1) highPr = highPr + 1;

2)

7)

4)

5)

6)

3)

midPr

midPr

lowPr

lowPr

lowPr

lowPr

=

=

=

=

=

=

midPr

midPr

lowPr

lowPr

lowPr

lowPr

+

+

+

+

+

+

1;

1;

1;

1;

1;

1;

Figure 11 is a part of the Java program made to simulate results for 5,000 trials of the

game. Due to the programs length, only this segment is displayed. The structure of this

segment is repeated throughout the entire program, so this is the only part necessary to

understand the entire thing. The program works in a series of steps that repeat until some

conclusion occurs. These steps are as follows:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

Generate a random number 1-8 (players door choice)

Generate a random number 1-4 (number spun on spinner)

Find situation with the correct number of doors opened

Generate random numbers 1-10 (dictates switch probability)

Find the matching situation

Add up any score that needs to be added

Add 1 to the loop number and repeat

Table 6

Comparing Actual Winnings with Expected Winnings for Java Program

Actual

Expected

Won $0

355

352.73

Won $5

3097

3127.34

Won $15

1199

1167.19

Won $30

349

352.73

Table 6 shows the actual number of prize occurrences in the Java simulation alongside

the expected number of prize occurrences. The expected values for each prize were determined

by multiplying the probability of winning each prize (calculated in Table 2) by 5,000 (the total

number of trials). If this simulation were used to estimate an operators profit, the result would

be different from the theoretical expected value.

E ( winnings )=

355

3097

1199

349

0 ) +(

5 +

15 )+ (

30)=$ 8.788

( 5000

5000 ) ( 5000

5000

The average winnings in the simulation, $8.79 were slightly higher than the expected

average winnings, $8.75 (calculated in Figure 8). The difference is $0.04, which is less than the

previous two simulations.

Because there were a large number of trials in the Java simulation, its data was almost

exactly the same as the predicted results. The second closest was the Excel spreadsheet

simulation, which had the second greatest number of trials. The games played by the human

volunteer produced the least accurate data, with the actual income varying more than a dollar

from the expected income. This phenomenon (more accurate data with more trials) can be

explained by the Law of Large Numbers, which states that an actual value will approach an

expected value as the number of trials increases.

Though the simulations had varying degrees of success, they all had something in

common: they were all simulations. Their data was not meant to be precisely the same as

predicted, because the real world is imperfect and random.

Summary:

Magic 8 Spin is a fantastic way of generating large amounts of money quickly because

the game has an average predicted profit of $1.25; quite a large margin for a carnival game. It

also has an estimated game loss probability (percent of times a player will lose the game) of

about 0.68, giving the player a decent chance of winning whilst still raking in plenty of cash.

Another reason to invest in Magic 8 Spin is because of its high prize values. Many people

believe in the Law of Averages, and would play this game repeatedly, desperately attempting

to make back the money they had lost. The game design is appealing and unique, which would

attract a large number of people to it and the carnival.

Magic 8 Spin generates about $1.25 of revenue for its owner every time someone

plays. This value is, of course, theoretical. Simulations have produced profit-per-game values as

high as $2.35, but only as low as $1.21. Even though Magic 8 Spin players lose $1.25 while

playing the game, they do so unknowingly. Magic 8 Spin appears fair, fun, and compelling to

the outside observer, a fact that would draw people to any carnival featuring the game.

Purchasing Magic 8 Spin will increase revenue as well as carnival traffic. So what does any

carnival owner have to lose?

Works Cited

Friedman, Daniel. "Monty Hall's Three Doors: Construction and Deconstruction of a Choice

Anomaly." The American Economic Review 88.4 (1998): 933-46. LUISS. Guido Carli

Viale Pola, 5 Dec. 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.

<http://static.luiss.it/hey/ambiguity/papers/Friedman_1998.pdf>.

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