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Trivia Betting ...
The first annual Wits & Wagers World Boardgame
Championship tournament was a smashing success! At least
it was for me. I had expected to draw enough players for
one or two games at the most. It turns out that we had
28 players (and a few more that we had to turn away) divided
evenly between four different games (seven players at each table). I
could not have hoped for better participation.
Due to the number of players that attended, I had to stand
on a chair and shout out the questions so that everyone could
hear them. Hopefully I was not too annoying to the other
nearby tournaments. Even with these unwieldy circumstances,
everything went smoothly. I used new never heard before
questions to make sure no one had an unfair advantage.
The tournament format was Swiss style (my favorite tournament
format from my professional Magic days). Players were randomly
assigned to their first table but assigned by standing for the
following two games.
Game 2: Top seed table
Matthew Amitrano: 7 points (1st)
Jason Avery: 7 points (1st)
Mike Coomes: 7 points (1st)
Gary Schaefors: 7 points (1st)
Mike Desto: 6 points (2nd)
Jim Freeman: 6 points (2nd)
Peter Martin: 6 points (2nd)
Game 3: Top seed table
Jason Avery: 14 points (1st / 1st)
Suzanne Tuch: 13 points (2nd/ 1st)
Mike Coomes: 13 points (1st / 2nd)
Matthew Amitrano: 11 points (1st / 4th)
Gary Schaefors: 11 points (1st / 4th)
Robert Drodz: 11 points (3rd / 2nd)
Jim Freeman: 11 points (2nd / 3rd)
Matthew Amitrano: 18 points (1st / 4th / 1st)
Suzanne Tuch: 18 points (2nd/ 1st / 3rd)
Jason Avery: 17 points (1st / 1st / 5th)
Jim Freeman: 17 points (2nd / 3rd / 2nd)
Cliff Ackman: 16 points (6th / 1st / 1st)
Peter Martin: 16 points (2nd / 5th / 1st)
Mike Desto: 16 points (2nd / 4th / 2nd)
Mike Coomes: 15 points (1st / 2nd / 6th)
Robert Drodz: 15 points (3rd / 2nd / 4th)
David Brooks: 15 points (3rd / 3rd / 3rd)
While it helps to be knowledgeable (of course), the good players
also made smart strategy decisions. The most important
strategy is in playing the odds correctly. Good players
quickly multiply the payout odds by the spread (the amount of
numbers for which the given answer will pay out) in order to
arrive at the actual payout odds. For instance, an answer that
will pay out 4:1 on five different numbers is half as good as
an answer that will pay out 2:1 on 20 different numbers. Since
time is limited, the good players learned how to make quick estimates
about the relative odds for each answer. When they had no
idea of the answer, they simply went with the best odds.
I noticed that the winning players often hedged their bets
in order to maintain their lead while the losing players often
played riskier (betting both chips on the same answer) in order
to catch the leader. There were also several occasions
when a few of the leading players refrained from betting.
This is something that I do not see very often because it takes
a lot of discipline. This was done when the leading player
had no idea at all about where to bet and there was no obvious
strategic decision based upon the odds.
The next level of play was in regards to getting to know the
other players area of expertise. Sometimes this took place
through friendly conversation (I heard someone asking another
player if they had a graduate degree) and other times by paying
attention to game play. Most of the top players were at
the same table for the last two games (a few were at the same
table for all three games) which means they had the chance to
learn about the knowledge base of other players. There
is usually a clear cut distinction between someone who knows
a lot about pop culture and someone who knows a lot of academic
trivia. The best players are always paying attention to
how the other players answer questions and how they bet.
All in all, this was a fun and exciting first Wits &
Wagers World Championship. Congratulations to Matthew
Amitrano for winning and to Suzanne Tuch for an honorable second
The banked theatre seating was
perfect for the Game Show.
Rows and aisles provided clustered
seating for teams.
The tournament was one heat of three rounds done in Swiss
style. 28 people attended and it took an hour and 30 minutes.
We ran three team Game Shows. This is an event where
people form teams and everyone plays in one big game. We
keep everyone involved in the same game by using a 6' by 3' dry
erase board so everyone can see the board. A game show
consists of two full games of Wits & Wagers so it
lasts a little over an hour. 35 people attended the first
one, 46 the second, and 49 the third. View the results
Theatre seating allowed audiences
of 50 to play a six-foot board.
Dominic MC'd the game using
a six foot wipeboard
quoting the odds.