With the end of Thanksgiving, the holiday season is now officially upon us, (I know you already feel your waistline expanding), and for many that means family game nights – in addition to food, presents, trimmings, etc. etc. etc. And Monopoly is, for some reason, a longstanding tradition of torture among kith and kin who claim to love and cherish each other the whole year long.

What’s wrong with Monopoly? Nothing, if you enjoy sitting around a board for literally hours on end watching your older sister troll everyone with hotels and your younger brother wipe his sticky hands all over the fake money before handing over his rents.

Theoretically speaking.

So what if I told you can use fairly simple math to pull off a win? I can’t promise you that it will speed up the game, but I can promise that winning, at least, lessens the pain. Right?

Here’s the secret: not all the properties on the board are created equal, so all you need to do is figure out which ones will give you the most return on your investment. (Sort of like life, in that way.)

And mathematicians Hannah Fry and Thomas Oleron Evans are here to hand over the keys. So to speak.

The first graph is going to show a selection of single properties and how quickly and steeply your investment grows (by a measure of your opponents rolls). As you can see, the first ones on the board are a cheap investment that’ll turn a profit very quickly, but you’ll never earn all that much.

Photo Credit: Ted.com

If you’re looking at single properties, Boardwalk is going to be your best bang for your buck.

But, as everyone knows, you can’t build houses and hotels on just one property. So behold the next graph, which takes the performance of entire sets of properties into account.

Photo Credit: Ted.com

As you can see, Park Place is a low performer – people rarely land on it – and it drags down the effectiveness of Boardwalk.

There isn’t really one answer, because it kind of depends on how many people you’re playing with (how many rolls you can expect your opponents to have per game).

If you’re playing with one other person, you want your properties to begin returning on your investment quickly, but if you expect to be playing 40, 50, or 60 rolls per person, then some of the higher end colors might be more worth your while.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re playing a relatively quick game, buy up the orange and/or light blue properties. If you’re stuck with more opponents, then go for the orange and red. The green are your target if you’re playing with more than three people.

If you’re a super math nerd, here’s a bonus graph that break’s down properties once they host one, two, three, or four houses or a hotel.

Photo Credit: Ted.com

Three houses is peak investment, and it also cuts off others from investing in houses if you use them all.

Oh, and bonus tip? The railroads and the utilities are worthless.

h/t: Ted.com

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