Here’s how to win at Monopoly, according to math experts
Mathematicians Hannah Fry and Thomas Oléron Evans have crunched the numbers. Forget utilities — these are the properties you really should be investing in.
To our minds, there is nothing more magical than a full-blown family argument caused by a good old-fashioned game of Monopoly. Officially, Monopoly ends when all players but one go bankrupt. In reality, it ends when your sister accuses one or all of you of cheating, flips the board across the room, and storms off in a shower of miniature plastic houses.
Monopoly, whose sole objective is to have you force your friends and family into poverty, seems to have the ability to turn even the most angelic of us into a monster. But if you are going to be involved in a vicious fight with your family, you might as well emerge the victor.
The key to success in Monopoly is noticing that not all properties are created equal. This is where mathematics steps in to help. Knowing which sets are likely to give you better returns is your ticket to board-game glory, ensuring it’s you with the smug, satisfied smile on your face while your family members weep into their ice cream bowls over their devastating defeat.
Ultimately, Monopoly is about money. So, to find the best strategy, we need to take into account how much you can expect each property, fully loaded with hotels, to earn for every roll of the dice and how much investment is required to get you there. To make a well-informed decision about which are the best properties to buy, you want to know how quickly you’ll make your money back and how quickly you’ll earn the big bucks once you do.
The below graph shows a selection of properties from each set. With a hotel on each, your earnings are shown up the vertical (y) axis and the total number of your competitors’ rolls along the horizontal (x) axis. Each property starts off with a negative value, as you have to invest in them to begin with; as soon as a property crosses the dotted line at zero the amount it’s earned in rent exceeds the amount it cost you. Anything else it earns is pure profit.
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