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Russian Roulette gambling

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Russian Roulette

Russian Roulette is a 'game' where you put 1 bullet in a revolver (thus leaving 5 chambers blank). Each player, in turn, puts the gun to his head and pulls the trigger. The gun is passed around until it fires. The one who dies, looses.

It looks like a strange way of gambling, but if you're so desparate that losing your live seems acceptible against whatever you're hoping to win in the game, it might not be so stupid. Rumour has it that Russian Roulette was invented by poor, unemployed Russians who, knowing they'd die from starvatian in a few days, were willing to bet their live. Other sources claim the game was first played by Rusian soldiers. In any case, there seems to be a win-win situation here : either you die on the spot, which deals with the prospect of dying from starvation quite adequately, either you win a reasonable amount of money, so you've overcome the danger of starvation.

On the scientific side, it does not look so bad either. On first sight, you wouldn't want to be the 6th player in a game of Russian Roulette : As the revolver has 6 chambers, with a bullet in 1 of them, player number 6 seems guaranteed to die. Player 1 would only have a change of 1/6 to die, player 2 a chance of 1/5, etc. So Playing first seems to be the best bet.

Wrong.
Player 1 has indeed a 5/6 chance (approx. 83 %) to survive. Player 6 also has approx. 83 % to survive : each player before him can get the bullet, so there's a good chance that someone will shoot himself before the gun reaches player 6. That chance is 5/6, or - again - approximately 83 %.

So, whether you play first (less chance to get a bullet) or last (more chance some one else gets killed before it's your turn), you have 83% probability to win. That's better than any odds I've ever heard of. Maybe those Russians were not so stupid after all.

Still, there's one more thing to consider : the game doesn't stop until someone dies. So when there's only two players, one of them will die, whether it is at the first shot or the sixth. So in this case there's a 50% chance to win. Likewise, with 3 players, you get 66.67% chance to get out of it alive, with 4 players 75%, with 5 players 80%, and with 6 players 83%.

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Popular Q&A

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What is it like to play Russian Roulette?

If you're playing with your family, now would be a good time to blindfold your surviving younger members. They'd hate to see mommy or daddy go even more than your better half (an alternate way to go about this is to hide your better half under the table while your kids are still in a state of shock).
If you're playing a

avatar
What is Russian roulette?

If you're playing with your family, now would be a good time to blindfold your surviving younger members. They'd hate to see mommy or daddy go even more than your better half (an alternate way to go about this is to hide your better half under the table while your kids are still in a state of shock).
If you're playing a

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