"Deal or No Deal" Tabletop Game Could Teach Kids About Expected Value

Kathleen and I occasionally turn on the TV and stumble upon the program Deal or No Deal. I find this program intriguing mainly because I think it ought to be played purely based on expected value calculations. For anyone who isn't aware, the expected value of an unopened case is the sum of the prize amounts that have not yet been displayed divided by the number of unopened cases. So, if the unopened cases are:

  • $100
  • $500
  • $1000
  • $1,000,000

... the expected value is $250,400.

You can play this game around the dining room table with your family during this holiday season. Deal or No Deal Tabletop Edition is a game for one to four players. The creators say that it's appropriate for ages 10 and up.

I think playing this game with family or friends would be fun. Can people avoid being overcome by the excitement of the game, when they play it with others? Is holding out for the expected value of the unopened cases always the right strategy?

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