Surviving The Deadliest Two-Player Game

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Get an intro to the math of Russian Roulette with "Surviving the Deadliest Game":

We know from “Surviving the Deadliest Game” that there’s no more dangerous game than Russian Roulette. And is there any game stupider than a duel in which two people stand there and shoot at each other? No -- so what happens when you combine them?!

Legendary scientific thinkers Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison are about to find out as their balloon avatars battle it out for electrical supremacy.

In this scenario, there’s only one single gun that Edison and Tesla pass back and forth for each shot. Can that game actually be fair if someone can go first and win on the first shot? If the first player has a probabilistic advantage, how much is it?

Is it possible for us to adjust the game in such a way that the first player’s advantage is a lot more fair? Can you EVER have a perfectly fair turn-based game when it’s possible for a player to win on the first turn?

Oh, and there’s actually a way that you can use your phone as a random number generator to simulate a Russian Roulette game in a perfectly safe way.

We thought The War of the Currents was over, but it won’t be decided until today. Edison and Tesla will enter Vsauce2. Only one will leave.

*** Sources/Further Reading ***

Blom, Gunnar, et al. “General Russian Roulette.” Mathematics Magazine, vol. 69, no. 4, 1996, pp. 293–297.

Sammartino McPherson, Stephanie. “The War of the Currents: Thomas Edison vs Nikola Tesla“

Nahin, Paul J. “Dueling Idiots and Other Probability Puzzlers.”

Jonnes, Jill: “Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World.”

*** LINKS ***

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Hosted and Produced by Kevin Lieber
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Research and Writing by Matthew Tabor


Editing by John Swan


Huge Thanks To Paula Lieber


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