Game theory in Crazy Rich Asians: explaining the Mahjong showdown between Rachel and Eleanor

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Reader Interactions


  1. Hi Travis,

    Good writeup. You interpreted Rachel’s moves and Eleanor’s motives spot on. That mahjong scene is a powerful scene. It’s a great resolution to the problem Rachel faced and it bracketed the film with the poker game opening. Neither is in the book. Praises should go to the scriptwriters.

    A couple corrections if I may:
    1. The Youngs are the richest family in Singapore, not China. The story is based in Singapore.
    2. I think you got the prisoners’ dilemma wrong. Based on your premise, refusing to confess would get the prisoner either 1 year (if the other also refuses) or 3 years (if the other confesses), not 0. He would only get 0 if he confesses and the other doesn’t. I got it a bit mixed up.

    • Hi, J.C.! Thanks for the comment. I’ve never read the book, so that’s some good insight. And thanks for the notes. For the Prisoner’s Dilemma, I thought I copied it right from O. Jackson’s paper, but I will check again and make corrections!

  2. Where can I purchase the Mahjong game used in the movie? I Have been looking all over the web for the exact game.

  3. This was a fascinating read! I just finished watching the movie and was wondering why Eleanor finally approved of Rachel.
    Great work!

    • Thank you!!

    • Thanks Tanishq!

  4. Game theory models the strategic interaction among rational decision-makers, explicitly accounting for how the choices of one participant depend on the choices of others. In the context of love and marriage, game theory can model how individuals’ strategies for selecting partners, signaling interest, and committing are influenced by the anticipated decisions of others. This approach differs from psychological or sociological models by focusing on strategic decision-making and the interdependence of choices, rather than on emotional, cultural, or social factors influencing behavior.

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