Suné's Blog | What Wordle can teach you about your money

Sunél Veldtman, | 12 August 2022

If you like word games, you are probably already addicted to Wordle available on the New York Times’ website. If you are not, and you try it, you will probably be addicted soon. Players must guess a predetermined five-letter word in six tries. Yellow and green squares indicate that a player guessed a correct letter or correct placement for the letter. The game’s developer, Josh Wardle, a software engineer from Brooklyn, developed the game for his partner because she loved word games. It became so popular on the family’s WhatsApp group that he realised he was onto something.

The New York Times bought the game from Wardle earlier this year and it has since become an internet sensation.

There is just one game available each day. It contributes to the scarcity factor. That sense of satisfaction – the dopamine hit that makes it addictive – is limited to a daily dose.

My game strategy is strictly statistical. I researched the most used letters in the alphabet, found word combinations with just those letters, and work out from there what the possibilities can be for letter combinations.

You can improve your chance of success by using your first two or three words as guesses. The more methodical you are when you choose your words, the better your chances are of eliminating letters and homing in on the right ones. Although sometimes you can be lucky and guess the word by your second try -  even getting the word right by the third guess, is unusual. The average game length is four guesses. About 95% of word games can be solved within the six allowed guesses.

Often, you must sacrifice winning early for winning at all.  In other words, you must use three methodical guesses to get it right on the fourth or fifth time, instead of intuitively taking a chance after the second guess and then not getting it right at all. It’s like having more irons in the fire.

Winning at Wordle is not unlike winning with your money. The same statistical principles apply. You will improve your probability of not running out of money, by giving yourself more options for getting it right. More options with your career, your savings, your investments over a longer time in a methodical way. Taking a wild shot at one thing has a minute chance of succeeding.  However, winning quickly can ruin your chances of your real goal – finishing.

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Kind regards,

//12 August 2022.