austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Have you seen the stars tonight?

Now it's convenient for my final report on the Showcase and the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right for a couple months. They finished off the season Friday and are in reruns until, I guess, September or October (and this after just introducing one new pricing game in the past two years, too).

For the episodes from the 1st through 26th of June, the first person to spin in the Showcase Showdown won 13 times; the second person to spin won 16 times; and the final spinner won 11 times, which seems to endorse my original hypothesis about the second spinner being in the best spot, if I hadn't been forced earlier to conclude the third spot looks best after all. The lowest spin to win the Showdown was 60 cents, which isn't quite the all-time low I've seen (55 cents) but is close. Oddly, only two people spun a dollar in June. One week saw not just no dollar spins but also no tie results producing a spin-off.

Historically, starting from the episode airing the 10th of November and going to the season finale, the first spinner won the Showdown 84 times. The second spinner won 106 times, and the third won 124 times. With 314 total winners (and I'm embarrassed to say I spent a while going over my tables trying to figure out why that wasn't a number divisible by three, showing how sloppily I can get to thinking about this), it suggests the first spinner wins about one time out of four; the second wins one time out of three; and the third two times out of five.

chefmongoose constructed last time around a simplified version of the game and I've fiddled with that some. If I'm not missing an obvious trick his hunch is exactly right, and that the second player has a reduced need to make any strategy decisions, and that the third one almost never has a choice to make, does seem to be what gives them the edge here. I'm delighted by the oddness of a game in which you do better the less your participation is actually needed and I'm trying to explore variations that get closer to the Showdown proper. (I should mention that games in which starting order gives benefits are not at all rare, and make an important side of game theory, which I've always wanted to know better than I do.)

My more useless statistic, tracking whether the first or second Showcase revealed won, turned up in June some 15 times that the first-revealed Showcase won, four times that the second-revealed won, and one double overbid. However, if you take out cases where the order was forced by the other person overbidding or bidding a dollar, then there were five times the first-revealed won, and two times the second-revealed won. Curiously, going back to January (I started following this late) found 29 times that with no forcing the first-revealed Showcase won, and 29 times that the second-revealed Showcase won. Nobody won a Double Showcase for June; and there was just the one double overbid. There were fourteen overbids (out of forty) altogether.

If I didn't miss recording any, then from January there were seven Double Showcase winners, and only five Double Overbids. Out of 244 Showcases shown off that's a chance just under three percent of a Double Showcase win and just over two percent of a Double Overbid. Given that there were 69 overbids out of 244 bids (a bit over 28 percent), this suggests that Double Overbids are less common than would be expected if overbidding were a random phenomenon, which would be at something like six percent. So it seems likely that contestants pay attention to whether the other one has overbid, which shouldn't prove too surprising. It's still nice to be able to say this with numbers.

Trivia: Boyle's 30 Acres, the plot of land in Jersey City leased by fight promoter Tex Rickard for the Dempsey-Carpentier world's heavyweight championship contest of 2 July 1921, was owned by John P Boyle (a paper-box manufacturer) and the Public Service Company, and was closer to 34 acres, and was generally known as Montgomery Circle, formerly home of Jersey City's Eastern League baseball team. Source: Whose What? Aaron's Beard to Zorn's Lemma, Dorothy Rose Blumberg.

Currently Reading: Vienna 1814: How the Conquerers of Napoleon Made Love, War, and peace at the Congress of Vienna, David King.


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