The House Always Wins. Especially if the House is in Alaska?

Posted on 14/03/2013 by


So I have this card game on my phone. It’s called Alaska. It’s not overly complicated but I’ve become strangely fascinated with it.

It’s not really the game itself, so much as this particular iteration of it. Most electronic card games seem to be a little skewed. They like to make you feel like you’ve got a chance. They’re programmed to not let you fail up front.

This one isn’t. It’s brutally fair. Sometimes you’ll move a single card and it’ll flash up: No moves left.

Image of starting deal for the game Alaska

Me: New record. Game starts: There are no more moves.

It’s like a punch in the face, out of nowhere, every time: No moves left. Sorry… Do you want to start a new game? I’m beginning to think that its ‘sorry’ is less than entirely sincere. It’s way less polite when you win. Just: New game? Yes/no.

Rick: Yay. You’ve totally beaten it.
Me: Oh yeah totally. Because my skill absolutely has a bearing on how this game goes. If it can defeat itself what I am doing is clearly only nominally relevant.

Well, it’s four percent relevant. That’s what knowing the best strategy to beat it gets you. Four percent. Which means I keep playing it. So far 4.44% is the best I can do. But I keep trying.

Me: I am getting slaughtered by my game right now.
Rick: Poor doom.
Me: I don’t know. I kind of like it. I mean, if I didn’t get some masochistic enjoyment out of it I wouldn’t keep playing.

I figure channeling my addictive tendencies into twisted solitaire games is better than gambling or grownup gaming. Although I read this article the other day that talked about how the players, “sought to enter a mindless state, a ‘zone,’ in which all else is obliterated, and to stay there as long as possible”. And I thought, “Gee, that sounds nice. To be able to tune out completely…” And then I thought, “It’s possible I should never do that.”


Posted in: Kandace, Research