Growing up, I was an outdoor kid, always playing some form of sport requiring a ball and competition. Usually the games involved me pummeling my best friend, Adam, who was almost a foot shorter than I was; we bounced from basketball to baseball on the front lawn to one-on-one touch football. Occasionally he’d sneak a win, but usually the outcome was a forgone conclusion. Unless it rained… When the weather turned sour, we’d head inside to pursue our other passions: Tecmo Super Bowl (which later evolved into Madden,) and Monopoly. It was on the Monopoly board that Adam exacted revenge.
It’s funny to think about someone being “good” at Monopoly, a game hinged on the roll of dice, but Adam is. (There’s more math and strategy involved than I ever thought about.) While I was chasing hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place, Adam would quietly be amassing properties on the “free parking” corner: the orange and red squares. Nearly every time we played, he would broker a deal to send Park Place to me in exchange for Illinois Avenue with St. James thrown in; and every time, I would bite, chasing the upside potential of the most expensive properties on the board.
Recently, we were reminiscing, and I mentioned those trades and how he would always manage to squeeze every last dollar out of me during our marathon Monopoly battles.
“Well, yeah,” he said. “You’re half again as likely to land on Illinois. There’s like a 2% chance of landing on Park Place. Illinois is around three and a quarter.”