# August 1996 * by Ian Stewart*

#### * Reproduced with permission of the author *

The April column "How Fair Is Monopoly?" generated the largest mailbag
ever. Most readers pointed out that the analysis
ignored many features of the real game, notably the "Go to Jail"
square but also the Community Chest and Chance cards. Some
readers assumed that I didn't know the rules of the game, whereas
others deduced (correctly) that I had made some simplifying
assumptions but did not make them explicit. One reader wondered if
the article was an April Fools' spoof: no, not an
intentional one!
A few readers provided the missing analysis of the realistic game. I
wish to acknowledge in particular Stephen Abbott of
Northfield, Minn.; William J. Butler, Jr., of Portsmouth, R.I.; Thomas
H. Friddell of Maple Valley, Wash.; Earl A. Paddon of
Maryland Heights, Mo.; and David Weiblen of Reston, Va. Together,
they have taught me a great deal - so much so that I
intend to report their results, and any others that come to my
attention, in a full column.

In reality, the "Go to Jail" square definitely produces a skewed
probability distribution. The jail square itself is the most
frequently visited, with a probability of 5.89 percent as compared
with the "equidistributed" value of 2.5 percent (or 2.44
percent if 'Just Visiting" and "Jail" are distinguished, which seems
sensible). The next most likely square to be landed on is
Illinois Avenue, with a probability of 3.18 percent. The square least
often visited is the third "Chance" square around from
"Go," probability of 0.871 percentapart from "Go to Jail," which is
not actually visited at all, because you're off to the pokey.