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Playing for Real, Coursepack Edition

A Text on Game Theory

Ken Binmore

Publication Date - October 2012

ISBN: 9780199924530

408 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $74.00

A pared down and re-engineered edition of Kin Binmore's widely used game theory text. Includes disc of teaching aids and exercises sets with answers.


Playing for Real is a problem-based textbook on game theory that has been widely used at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. This Coursepack Edition will be particularly useful for teachers new to the subject. It contains only the material necessary for a course of ten, two-hour lectures plus problem classes and comes with a disk of teaching aids including pdf files of the author's own lecture presentations together with two series of weekly exercise sets with answers and two sample final exams with answers.

There are at least three questions a game theory book might answer: What is game theory about? How is game theory applied? Why is game theory right? Playing for Real is perhaps the only book that attempts to answer all three questions without getting heavily mathematical. Its many problems and examples are an integral part of its approach. Just as athletes take pleasure in training their bodies, there is much satisfaction to be found in training one's mind to think in a way that is simultaneously rational and creative. With all of its puzzles and paradoxes, game theory provides a magnificent mental gymnasium for this purpose. It is the author's hope that exercising on the equipment provided by this Coursepack Edition will bring the reader the same kind of pleasure that it has brought to so many other students.


  • PowerPoint presentations for 10 two-hour lectures provided
  • Difficult exercises from the original book have been removed

About the Author(s)

Ken Binmore is a mathematician-turned-economist who has devoted his life to the theory of games and its applications in economics, evolutionary biology, psychology, and moral philosophy. He is well known for his part in designing the telecom auction that raised $35 billion for the British taxpayer, but his major research contributions are to the theory of bargaining and its testing in the laboratory. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of 12 books and some 90 research papers. He is Emeritus Professor of Economics at University College London.


"Ken Binmore is an outstanding exponent of game theory. His many books are written in a delightfully fresh and engaging style, as is this one. Enjoy!"--Robert Aumann, Center for the Study of Rationality, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences

"Delightfully written and thoroughly revised, this long-awaited intellectual child of Ken Binmore's Fun and Games retains the solid foundation of the original while expanding to cover an impressive array of new ideas. It stands out among game theory texts in explaining not only how to do game theory, but when and why to do it. It is the ideal place to learn game theory for the first time or to gain a fresh perspective on ideas that a career's work have made familiar."--Larry Samuelson, A. Douglas Melamed Professor of Economics, Yale University

"One of the world's leading game theorists explains the subject with sparkle and wit. He challenges the reader to think deeply about strategic rationality without becoming esoteric, and shows how the theory illuminates down-to-earth topics like gambling, auctions, business competition, and game show contests. A gem of a book written by a master."--Peyton Young, Scott and Barbara Black Professor of Economics, Johns Hopkins University, and Professor of Economics, University of Oxford

Table of Contents

    Lecture 1: Getting Locked In
    In this introductory lecture, a famous game called the Prisoners' Dilemma is
    introduced and used to illustrate how game theory can be used to clarify a
    variety of strategic problems. The idea of a Nash equilibrium makes its first

    Lecture 2: Backing Up
    This chapter starts to explain how one can specify the rules of a game by
    introducing the idea of a game tree. We learn how some games can be solved
    by backward induction.

    Lecture 3: Taking Chances
    Chance moves are introduced. Bayes rule for updating conditional probabilities
    appears for the first time.

    Lecture 4: Accounting for Tastes
    We learn that a rational player in a risky situation will behave as though maximizing
    the expected value of a Von Neumann and Morgenstern utility function.

    Lecture 5: Planning Ahead
    The ideas of an extensive and strategic form of a game are consolidated. We
    learn the mechanics of successively deleting dominated strategies.

    Lecture 6: Mixing Things Up
    Rational players will sometimes need to randomoize their strategy choice to
    keep their opponents guessing. This chapter explains how to work with such
    mixed strategies.

    Lecture 7: Buying Cheap and Selling Dear
    This chapter is an introduction to the use of game theory in economics. Students
    of economics will find most topics are treated from a different angle than
    they have probably seem before.

    Lecture 8: Repeating Yourself
    Most of the games we play in real life are repeated over and over again. This
    makes a big difference to how they get played.

    Lecture 9: Getting Together
    This chapter applies game theory to bargaining.

    Lecture 10: Knowing What to Believe
    One of the big successes of game theory lies in its ability to handle some
    situations in which players have good reason to conceal information from each

    Lecture 11: Taking Charge
    This lecture is an optional extra about auctions and mechanism design. It can
    serve as a possible substitute for Lecture 8 or 9.

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