Roulette of no Rotation
Roulette was invented by the 17th century French mathematician Blaise Pascal (yes, THE Pascal of Pascal’s Triangle) and eventually ended up a popular casino game. The revised equipment the players will be using here is set stationary and simplified into four areas (areas 1-4).
There is a total of eight rounds. The two players will take turns playing the dealer and the gambler. The dealer will drop the ball in one of the four slots through the golden extension and place a bid (or bids) in a way that will mislead the gambler. The dealer can bid as little as one chip on one area or as much as all of her team’s chips on all four areas. For the purpose, the choice is flexible.
The gambler has no idea where the ball is and must therefore find clues to aid her judgment. Upon decision, she must 1) place a bid that’s of equal or greater value to the dealer’s bid and 2) bid on no more than two areas.
Chips waged on incorrect areas will be turned into rewards and distributed according to the ratio of the correct bids. To clarify: If on the correct area, player A bids 15 coins and player B bids 10, the ratio between A and B becomes 3:2. If there are a total of 35 incorrectly bid chips, player A will receive 60% (or 3/5) of the 35 chips and player B will gain 40% (or 2/5) of 35.
There are, of course, dirty tricks to increase one’s chance of winning.
For the conservative, the ordering in which the dealer places his/her bids can clue you in on what not to bid. The logic is unbelievably simple: the first area the dealer bids on is often not where the ball is. There’s scientific merit to the observation. According to a psychology experiment, when arbitrarily asking people to produce choices to a question of their own choosing, the correct answer choice, in almost all cases, is the second or third answer choice — never the first. Psychologists theorize that this behavior reflect the natural instinct to protect ones’ self by not presenting the correct answer up front. Of course this is not foolproof. What if the dealer places bid in sequential order?
For the more aggressive, the dealer can bid an amount equal to the gambler’s total asset and place the bid on incorrect areas. The dealer will incur a huge lost with zero win, but it will also strip the gambler of his/her chips, wrapping up the game. The agency benefits by collecting the reward as no player wins. This method promises a quick finish but negative return. In addition to the obvious disadvantage, the dealer must have sufficient chips to squander.
Although Akiyama show casted both the conservative and aggressive strategies during the practice round, that’s not all he has up his sleeve. He suggests Nao to bluff. Taking advantage of the fact that the fear of the aggressive method is fresh on the opponents’ minds. If Nao places a single large bid now, self-doubt will force Taeko Kosaka, general of Kingdom of Moon, to divide up a small sum and bid it on a second area for security. However much she places, a portion of that will be Nao’s gain in the end because she will bid where her ball is. It’s a viable strategy, but useful only once. What happens then?
Nao knows she is terrible with masking feelings; if she doesn’t come up with a better plan, her team is bound to lose.
But don’t worry, our master schemer — Fukunaga — is thinking the same. So before the game officially starts, our beloved sneaky rascal slips away to make a pack with the devil.
He proposes to help Kosaka defeat Nao but in return, he wants a big, fat cut from her eventual reward. Kosaka agrees Fukunaga reinforces the agreement with a contract. (Remember them contracts folks?) Then Fukunaga tells Kosaka the one thing she needs to know to win — Nao-chan blinks whenever she lies. Hardly the foolproof winning strategy but for someone desperate, it might be a fortune turning opportunity.
The game starts with Kingdom of Moon. As the rule dictates, Kosaka drops the ball in a slot known only to her, wagers bets and settles down for Nao’s response. As Nao contemplates what to do, Kosaka interrupts her train of thought. “About the promise you made earlier, does it still stand?” (Oh no! Not that again!) Every Mother Teresa instinct in Nao responds to the query. She smiles her warm smile and warrants that the offer is still in effect. Assured, Kosaka taps on one and says, “Here is where I put the ball.” Nao nods trustingly and wagers all her chips on one. It ended in disaster.
The second round of game starts with Nao as the dealer. Like Kosaka, she wagers on all four areas.
When it’s Kosaka’s turn to place her bid, she calmly sits back and asks, “Where did you put it?” Spotting Nao’s nervousness, Kosaka presses further:
Kosaka: “Is it in one?”
Nao: “No, it isn’t.”
Kosaka: “Then two?”
Nao: “No, it isn’t.”
Kosaka: “Or three?”
Nao: “… No… It isn’t.”
Kosaka: “Then it must be in four.”
Nao: “No it isn’t! Stop asking me!”
Smiling to herself, Kosaka wagers all her bets on three. Not only did Nao hesitate in her response, she blinked on three! When the moment of truth is revealed, the loud “Ka-Ching” of rolling dough confirms Kosaka’s hunch. Easy triumph, no?
Nao wins back a portion of her losses in the third round, but the next game turns into a replay of what happened the second round.
During the fifth round of the game, Kosaka quickly realizes that when she is the dealer, Nao has a better chance at recovering some of her losses. So Kosaka bids a single chip on every number — the smaller the bid, the smaller the win. Of course, that’s only true when Nao doesn’t think to outbid Kosaka.
Right about now, both Nao and Akiyama start to wonder if Kosaka somehow knows where Nao puts the ball each time. Nao presents her opponent with the suspicion and Kosaka denies. Dubiously, Nao leans across to study Kosaka’s face, hoping to catch any indication of lie. After a pregnant pause, Nao gives up. She slumps back into her seat and apologizes.
The game resumes quickly, it ends just as quickly. Nao loses. Then comes round #6, the third to last round before the roulette finishes.
Watching above, Fukunaga lets out a knowing smirk. The small inflection of the mouth isn’t missed by Akiyama. Figuring that Fukunaga had pulled one of his old contract tricks, Akiyama makes his discontent known. Taking the pain to enunciate every syllable, Akiyama spits the words “mushroom head” in Fukunaga’s face, rendering the latter speechless. Call it comic relief, I re-watched this episode for the recap and this scene still cracks me up.
Nao wagers everything this time (372 million!) — a bold move that shocks all. She explains that Kosaka has won three rounds with Nao being the dealer, every time betting on one number. If the odds of winning a single round is 1/4, that’s a probability of 1/64 for all three rounds. Beating the odds will be hard this time.
Kosaka is unfazed by the big gamble and starts her routine “where did you put the ball” questioning. When the number four is asked, Nao responds first by a widening of the eye, then she blinks, twice. Confident that the game is over, Kosaka wagers all 372 chips on four.
But the cold and hard truth is…
Kosaka is deceived. With only 94 chips left, there is no way she will win.
After Kosaka recovers from her shock, Nao explains that it was all part of her plan. She told Fukunaga to negotiate a contract, she wanted Kosaka to believe the blink-after-lie habit, and she lost on purpose to bait the big fat fish. In fact, Nao had given Kosaka a chance. When Kosaka prodded around Nao’s promise to salvage everyone, Nao had chosen to believe her. But when Kosaka disappointed Nao with her manipulation, Nao knew she had to outsmart Kosaka in order to save the Kingdom of Moon. So she did.
Nao assures Kosaka that she will repay any debt Kingdom of Moon may end up, thus freeing them from the agency’s claws. She didn’t agree to participate in Liar Game so she can satisfy her material needs; she wants to end this foolish game that exploits the wickedness in people.
Under Nao’s promise, the last two rounds end in peace.
Kingdom of Sun repays all of its opponent’s debt and left over money ends up in Fukunaga’s pocket as agreed.
The next game will be the semifinals. The winners get to advance to the final round, where the twisted Liar Game Tournament can be terminated for good.
Leaving the first gaming site, Nao expresses feelings of uncertainty. But forward they must go, against the cruelty that might await them, and the mysterious Katsuragi Ryo.
Half way through the episode, I thought to myself, “Did Kosaka seriously think she’s going to win the game with the blink-before-lie tip? C’mon, didn’t she know that sooner or later, Nao is going to catch on?”
It’s as if everyone outside the main-character trio automatically qualifies to be an imbecile. Without worthy opponents, victories mean very little. Fortunately, with the beginning of the semifinals, Katsuragi Ryo will join rank with the elites. Hopefully she will bring more intensity to the table.
Despite the weak links, I did enjoy the later half of this episode. Sure, I love the battle of wits but I love the character developments even more. What pleased me the most wasn’t the fact that Nao came up with a plan all on her own — that was impressive — it was her winning without Akiyama’s help that was most exciting. All last season, she was the helpless, innocent dove who relied on Akiyama’s generosity. But she’s grown ever since, taking initiate and standing on her own two feet. She may never be on the same level as Akiyama but she is certainly no longer the passive damsel waiting to be saved.
Even Fukunaga has shown signs of change. Of late, he’s tuned down his greed and upped his goodwill. Although a part of me believes that if Nao’s plan didn’t work out, Fukunaga’ll go ahead with the contract and get his cut, his willingness to team up with Nao, especially him agreeing to only take what’s left after paying Kingdom of Moon’s debt, is a good transformation.