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

Bradley J. Ruffle, Oscar Volij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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-2 k+ 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)933-970
Number of pages38
JournalInternational Journal of Game Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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