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Clark Jaigirdar Polgar

10C FST
25 March 2014
Magic 8 Spin
Description:

Figure 1. Magic 8 Spin User Interface


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

Clark Jaigirdar Polgar


10C FST
25 March 2014
or a 3, the player walks away with nothing.
Directions:

Choose a door! There is a prize behind every door, so everybody wins.

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!

Open the door you selected and claim your 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).

Clark Jaigirdar Polgar


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.

Figure 3. Elimination Spinner


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.

Clark Jaigirdar Polgar


10C FST
25 March 2014

P(1 spin) = 2/8 = 0.25


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:

If a 1 is spun, one $5 door is eliminated.

If a 2 is spun, one $5 door and one $15 door are eliminated.

If a 3 is spun, two $5 doors and one $15 door are eliminated.


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.

Clark Jaigirdar Polgar


10C FST
25 March 2014

Figure 5. Incomplete Tree Diagram of Possible Outcomes


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

Clark Jaigirdar Polgar


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. Probabilities Given Switching


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)) +

(0.125*0.25*0.3*(2/6)) + (0.125*0.5*0.3*(1/5)) + (0.125*0.25*0.3*(1/4)) +


(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

Figure 8. Calculating the Expected Winnings


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

Figure 10. Expected Winnings Based on Excel Spreadsheet


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. Java Program


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.

Begin a loop that continues for 5,000 trials


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

Figure 12. Expected Winnings Based on Java Simulation


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>.