Let's Roll a Yahtzee

Image credit: 
YouTube / Numberphile

Okay, Internet, let's get nerdy. There's a 1 in 1,296 chance of rolling a single-throw Yahtzee—that's five dice all landing on the same number in one throw. (Note that this is the chance of rolling any Yahtzee; if you're going for a specific set, such as all-sixes, the odds are 1 in 7,776.) Given this stupidly tough challenge, Brady Haran of Numberphile decided to film his adventure in repetitive rolling, then challenged his viewers to do the same. Strap yourself in, we're about to roll!

First up, Haran explains the math(s) and attempts to roll a Yahtzee, fueled by Diet Coke. My favorite part is around 5:00 when Haran loses hope. "That hopefulness is gone, that optimism. Now I'm just facing the reality of probability," he says, then fails again. For all the failure in this video, it really is a special kind of fun:

Predictably, the Internet responded. Here's two and a half minutes of viewer Yahtzees, complete with bleeped expletives. Fun:

Okay, so how about six minutes of success? I love the awkward pause between a throw and the realization that it worked.

And it keeps going! Seven and a half more minutes of this. I find it delightful how people count their attempts, using apps, calculators, paper and pencil.

Haran is on vacation in the Maldives...but is still trying to achieve single-roll Yahtzees.

Finally, Vi Hart gets in on this with tetrahedral dice and an innovative foot-counter.

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July 24, 2014 - 12:12pm
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