How to play (3 × 3)-games. A strategy method experiment

Reinhard Selten, Klaus Abbink, Joachim Buchta, Abdolkarim Sadrieh

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Using the strategy method (Selten, 1967, Beiträge zur experimentellen Wirtschaftsforschung, pp. 136-168) we elicit subjects' strategies for playing any 2-person (3 × 3)-game with integer payoffs between 0 and 99. In each of 5 tournaments, every strategy pair plays 500 000 games. The frequency of pure strategy equilibrium play increases from 51% in the first to 74% in the last tournament, with the equilibria that maximize joint payoff being preferred when multiple exist. For games without pure equilibria, strategies are typically based on elements of the best-reply cascade: MAP (maximize the expected payoff against uniformly randomizing opponents), BR-MAP (best reply to MAP), and BR-BR-MAP (best reply to BR-MAP).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-37
Number of pages19
JournalGames and Economic Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • 2-person games
  • Equilibrium selection
  • Experimental economics

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