International Journal of Game Theory

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 933–970

First-mover advantage in best-of series: an experimental comparison of role-assignment rules

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00182-015-0493-7

Cite this article as:
Ruffle, B.J. & Volij, O. Int J Game Theory (2016) 45: 933. doi:10.1007/s00182-015-0493-7


Kingston (J Comb Theory (A) 20:357–363, 1976) and Anderson (J Comb Theory (A) 23:363, 1977) show that the probability that a given contestant wins a best-of-\(2k+1\) series of asymmetric, zero-sum, binary-outcome games is, for a large class of assignment rules, independent of which contestant is assigned the advantageous role in each component game. We design a laboratory experiment to test this hypothesis for four simple role-assignment rules. Despite significant differences in the frequency of equilibrium play across the four assignment rules, our results show that the four rules are observationally equivalent at the series level: the fraction of series won by a given contestant and all other series outcomes do not differ across rules.


Experimental economics Two-sided competitions Best-of series Asymmetric game Psychological pressure 

JEL Classification

C90 D02 L83 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsBen-Gurion UniversityBeershebaIsrael

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