Jason McCreary

a PHP and iOS developer. a thinker.

How to win Family Feud

Family Feud is my game show. I watched it growing up, at college, even on lunch breaks at work. To this day the common strategy frustrates me. I believe in an alternative strategy which will put you into the final round every time. I’m going to share it in hopes of changing the game of Family Feud forever.

First, for those not familiar, Family Feud is a television game show. Two teams - typically families - compete against one another. They face-off to guess the top answers of a survey question. If you win the face-off, your family has three individual attempts to guess the rest of the top answers. If your family can not, the other family has the chance to steal if they guess one of the remaining answers. One family is awarded points from each round. The family with most points after a few rounds goes to the final round.

Now the common strategy is to play if you win the face-off. This is wrong. In fact, it’s ridiculous. Yes, I am saying everyone who has ever played Family Feud is wrong.

So what’s the secret to winning Family Feud… defer.

That’s right. It’s that simple. If you win the face-off, defer.

I’ve crunched the numbers on this (from my extensive viewership). You can flip the odds in your favor by defering. Put the pressure on the other family to guess all the answers. When they don’t (and they won’t) you steal.

Not convinced? Allow me to introduce something called Probability. Family Feud surveys 100 people. You have to guess the top most common answers of these 100 people. Seems easy enough. And it is for a few answers. The rest of the answers occur far less frequently. This is called a long tail distribution.

So, if you play, your family must guess all the top answers answers. That’s unlikely. Or shall I say improbable. Remember this survey is not from factual data. It’s from people. People who provide what I’ll call a subjective answer.

The probability of guessing the top answers in the face-off is very high. But the probability of guessing all the remaining long tail answers is low. So, instead, defer. Have the other family try, while your family has the time to think of one of the long tail answers together.

To this day, I have yet to see a family defer after winning the face-off. The desire to play is too great.

If you’re a contestent on Family Feud (or if Family Feud would like to put my family and I on the show) try this. You’ll make it to the finals. Just don’t forget to thank me when you win.

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