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Subject: 3 ways to win rss

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Dominic Crapuchettes
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There are three very important things to balance every time you place a bet in Wits & Wagers:

1) Your knowledge of the question
2) Your knowledge of the other players
3) The odds of the answers

The first point is pretty straight forward. If you have a good idea of the answer, place both red chips on the answer that you think will pay out. But most of the time you'll only have a vague expectation of the answer, and that expectation will change once you've seen all of the other answers. Also, when you are making a rough estimate, make sure to write an answer that is a little lower than what you think so that you don't go over the correct answer.

The second point is not quite as straight forward. Part of it has to do with how well you know the interests of your friends and part of it has to do with reading the other players during the game.

Always look to see if someone at the table has not split their bet. If someone has not split their bet, look to see if they bet on their own answer. If so, you have to decide whether they're full of themselves or not. For instance, if there is a history question of the type that is learned in school, and my business partner Satish bets 10 points on his own answer, then I will almost always do the same. Why? Because Satish is extremely good when it comes to trivia that was taught in school and because he is rarely over confident in his abilities. Sometimes I notice that new players bet on themselves as a matter of principle. In this case, I ignore it when they bet heavily on themselves.

I also pay attention to how quickly other people write their answers, their reaction to a question, and to how they are betting. I find that people usually play Wits & Wagers twice in a row which gives enough time to learn a bit about the other players (if you do not know them to begin with). I always try to figure out if the closest answer was accidental or has to do with a realm of knowledge that someone is familiar with. I love getting to know people so I use the game as an excuse to ask questions. Something like "I didn't know you were interested in geography." or "Is that something you studied in school?" Learning what degrees people have is always helpful. The more you know about the people you are playing with, the more you know about how much to weigh their opinion compared to your own opinion. That is part of the reason this game has so much social interaction. You cannot over estimate how important this aspect it. I have won many games by ignoring the odds and simply concentrating on the other players.

The most important thing to know about the third point is that you must muliply the payout odds by the spread (the amount of numbers for which the given answer will pay out) in order to arrive at the relative payout odds. For instance, an answer that will pay out 4:1 on 5 different numbers is half as good as an answer that will pay out 2:1 on 20 different numbers. You'll have to learn how to make quick estimates about the relative odds for each answer so you have time to pay attention to the other players. But on those rare times when you have absolutely know idea what the correct answer is, and you have no idea of whether anyone else does either, then all you have to go by is the odds. If all of the relative odds are about the same, then you would do best to not place a bet for that question (it takes discipline to refrain from betting on a question). On the other hand, there are sometime when the relative odds are so highly in favor of one or two answers that you should bet on them even though you have no idea of the answer.

The final aspect of the odds has to do with your goal when playing Wits & Wagers. The above advice will maximize how well you do over the long run if there is a running tally of how well you place over 100 games. But if all you care about is coming in 1st place, then you'll want to skew all of the above advice towards betting heavier on the 3:1 and 4:1 slots. Playing "overly" risky means you'll you'll have more 1st place finishes as well as more last place finishes.

So while there are 3 distinct aspects to betting in Wits & Wagers, the best strategy is to weigh all three of these elements and make a judgement on each question as to which should weigh heavier. That is why the strategy of the game is still so interesting to me: there is no correct formula for making a good judgement in regards to how much you should trust your opinion and the opinions of others, when weighed against the odds.

Although this write-up has focused on the strategy involved in playing Wits & Wagers (see the varient I posted to play a more competitive game), the most interesting thing to me are the interactions between the players. It is simply fun to see what your friends think in regards to any given topic and this usually leads to some hilarious banter!

Dominic

Designer of Wits & Wagers and Cluzzle
Founder of North Star Games LLC
www.NorthStarGames.com
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Christian Monterroso
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Nice article, Dominic!

Of course, your article is focused on people who are playing the game a little more seriously than my groups. We have one way to win the game:

1) Play the game.

You win by laughing at the hilarious answers and banter than ensues from the questions. We look forward to more questions, specially once they become a little less US-centric. Although I find it fun to try and guess at the population of Wisconsin, I have caught a lot of flak for asking too many US questions. Fortunately, nobody really minds once I remind them that they wouldn't know the answer if it was a Canadian province anyway!

Once again, great work!
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Dominic Crapuchettes
United States
Bethesda
MD
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North Star Games designs party games that don't suck! Play them with your non-gamer friends over the holidays.
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First there was Hearts, then there was Spades, and now we bring you Clubs. The suit of clubs finally gets some respect!
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ccmonter wrote:

You win by laughing at the hilarious answers and banter than ensues from the questions. We look forward to more questions, specially once they become a little less US-centric. Although I find it fun to try and guess at the population of Wisconsin, I have caught a lot of flak for asking too many US questions.


Thanks! I agree that the real winners are the ones that play the game just to have a great time.

Right now we are working on questions for a "Family Edition" but maybe one of these days we'll come up with the Canadian version, eh. If you happen to come up with some Canadian questions, be sure to send them our way.
 
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