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2 Buckets, 50 White Balls , 50 Black Balls . . . |

2 Buckets, 50 White Balls , 50 Black Balls . . . |

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter offers the answer to this tricky hedge fund brainteaser: you have two buckets, 50 black balls and 50 white balls. How do you set up the balls in such a way as to maximize the odds that you had he will choose a black ball. 


Let's talk about another 1 of those "wonderful" hedge fund brainteaser questions, maybe it's used in investment banking, too. The question comes down to this: you have 100 balls, 2 buckets, 50 balls are black, 50 balls are white. How do you set up the 2 buckets of balls to give yourself the greatest probability that you will choose a black ball?

This makes you a great investment banker hedge fund trader, I don't know! This is the kind of question they may ask to get an idea of how you think on the spot when the pressure was on.

Use how to do it. You take one black ball and put it into one bucket. That gives you 100% probability on that side. On the other side, you put all the other balls. So one bucket bucket has 99 balls, of which 49 are black and 50 are white. The other bucket has one black ball in the bucket. How does this work?

Obviously, one bucket has 100% probability and the other bucket has slightly less than 50% probability. Let's round it out and say it is 50% (it's probably closer to 49.5%). So one side you have 100% on the other side you have 50%. Thus, your probability is just less than 75%. Those are really the highest thoughts that you can get. That, of course, is assuming that someone is a completely random way of choosing a ball. It's not like they are going to be staring at the buckets; they're going to be blindfolded when they do it..

That's the way to answer this question. You put one black wall in one bucket, 99 balls in the other and you have just under 75% probability.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching and life coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1000 episodes,“ Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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