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July 30, 2015

First’s wager in ‘close’ games

A couple of readers asked why I gave Jennifer a ‘red’ grade in Wednesday’s wagering blowout. Their argument was Jennifer could not safely cover a zero wager by Jonathan, the leader, so going all-in was acceptable.

I see this argument, but my hunch was that first place rarely leaves the door open for both second and third. I went through the data.

According to the J! Archive data from Seasons 27-31 (through July 10), there were 290 regular games in which third place could cover a zero wager by the leader. Of those, the leader took his destiny into his own hands on 256 occasions (88%).

In only 11 games did first place wager so small that third place could overtake him by wagering everything.

First wager close game

Among those 11 games included Brennan Bushee’s loss, Sarah McNitt’s loss, and Mark Japinga’s win over Ben Ingram.

Particularly with Jonathan’s previous all-in wager from first, there was little reason to believe he would be coy a second time. Therefore, I stand by my ‘red’ grade for Jennifer.

  1. Pat Russell permalink

    These last couple of days have caused me to wonder “is this just an elaborate prank to drive Keith past drinking and all the way to crazy?” You have to admit it has been pretty effective.

  2. Ben permalink

    This should make future analysis simpler, since 2nd & 3rd place players can pretty much ignore anything but a lockout from a leader in a close game.

    • Aaron Fisher permalink

      Unfortunately, things are still complicated, as they often depend on weighted comparisons between different low-probability scenarios.

      Sure, the leader might only be 4-12% to make less than a lockout wager. But in many cases it’s also a very low chance that someone can pull out a win without a correct response in FJ.

      There’s really no shortcut for doing the proper analysis.

What do you think?