# Thread: Number of trials in zero-sum game

1. ## Number of trials in zero-sum game

Hi all, this is my first post here! Forgive me if it's not in the right place.

I have a question that's been bugging me because I tend to be pretty good at math/statistics but I guess I'm a bit rusty.

Let's say you have \$100 and the price to participate in the following game is \$20:

You have a 5% chance to win \$80
You have a 10% chance to win \$60
You have a 15% chance to win \$40
You have a 20% chance to win \$20
You have a 50% chance to win \$0

The expected value of your winnings will be 0.05*80+0.1*60+0.15*40+0.2*20 = \$20 and therefore, given that the price to play is \$20 as well, it is a zero-sum game. Suppose you are nevertheless interested in playing this game until you are bankrupt (lose the entire \$100). My question is: what is the chance that you will be bankrupt in 10 trials or less? How do you calculate this? I suppose it's more the method of calculation I'm after, than the exact probabilities. 10 trials is just an example.

2. ## Re: Number of trials in zero-sum game

The problem can be well described by the Markov chain,

with state space

(state represent having of current wealth)

Specifically state is the absorbing state represent bankruptcy.

The transition probabilities are

and elsewhere among the transient states.

The distribution of the wealth after trials can be calculated by the th power of the transition matrix.

3. ## Re: Number of trials in zero-sum game

You, sir, are a hero.

Am I right in assuming that the size of the state space is theoretically unlimited in this example? If so, how does that affect my calculations?

4. ## Re: Number of trials in zero-sum game

Yes the number of states is countably infinite (so as the dimension of the transition matrix). Being rigorous, you may need to know some technical regularities / defining a matrix in that way. Anyway, if you are just interested the game in finite time settings, you can always truncate the transition matrix, up to the maximum possible wealth within the given number of trials.

5. ## Re: Number of trials in zero-sum game

Got it thanks to you and Matlab. Cheers mate.

6. ## Re: Number of trials in zero-sum game

LOL, I didn't got the right answer in my own calculations. It is far as yours. I am still in need of studying math.

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