A prison contains N prisoners who are all scheduled to be executed. The warden offers them a small glimmer of hope for one to survive. He has a box containing N gold coins and 1 red coin. One by one the prisoners will take turns randomly selecting a number of coins from the box (without replacement) until the box is empty. The prisoner who ends up with the red coin will die. Of the remaining prisoners, if a single one has the most gold coins he will be set free and the rest of the prisoners will die. If there is a tie for the most gold coins, all the prisoners die.
- On their turn each prisoner declares how many coins they want and receive them all at once.
- All prisoners see the results of the prior prisoners’ selections.
- Each prisoner will act in his own self-interest, trying to save himself.
- The prisoners are jerks, so if one knows he is definitely going to die he will try to ensure everyone dies.
You are the first prisoner to go. How many coins should you pull from the box, and what are your chances of survival?