Maximin strategy

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

A principle of choosing a course of action or strategy in theoretical game situations. For each strategy the ‘player’ may choose, he should find the worst possible pay­off to himself which could result from the choice of strategy by his opponent, i.e. the minimum-valued pay-off for each strategy. He should then choose that strategy which yields the !argest of these minimum outcomes, so that he is maximizing his minimum pay-off. The term maximin describes this. This strategy is suggested as a rational one in zero-sum games, given that an opponent is rational and is seeking to make himself as well off, and hence you as badly off, as he can. Simultaneous use of a maximin strategy by both players may then lead to an equilibrium outcome of the game. The strategy appears less rational in so-called ‘garnes against nat ure’, however, where the op­ponent is not a rational, calculating opponent but ‘blind chance’. In this case the extreme pessimism of the strategy, which in effect assumes that nature will always do its worst, may lead to choices which a reasonable man would regard as irrational, largely because it ignores all pay-offs other than the worst in each strategy.

Reference: The Penguin Dictionary of Economics, 3rd edt.

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