Scamming with Androids and Apples

Published on Sunday, July 25, 2010 in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Three Card Monte being played on the streetLearning about how scams work can be a fun gateway to learning surprising things about math and psychology. But what about when you're on the go? Get out your Android and Apple iOS mobile devices for this post!

Disclaimer: As with any column on scams on Grey Matters, I don't condone using these to rip people off, and simply present the information about scams here as an educational tool. Proceed with this in mind, and at your own risk.

Before we even get to apps, don't overlook the built-in features of your mobile device(s).

With the ability to view video on YouTube and/or subscribe to podcasts, you can check out programs such as Scam School (Scam School homepage), The Real Hustler UK, The Real Hustle US, and more!

The ability to surf the internet, as always, can also bring a wealth of information. Besides learning about scams here on Grey Matters, searching around forums can be excellent resources. There's the Scam School forums, as well as the various Magic Cafe's great forums, including The Gambling Spot, Pardon me, sir..., If right you win, if wrong you lose..., Betchas, Magical equations, and Puzzle me this....

A good blog to check out is Australia's Honest Con Man: Confessions, and his previous archives at The Honest Con Man's Guide To Life.

One of the most popular mathematical scams is the game of Nim. It has already made 4 appearances on Scam School (Nim, Advanced Nim, Thirty-One, Calendar Nim).

Watching those videos is one thing, but why not use your mobile device to practice and learn more about it? It's not surprising that Nim is so readily available for mobile devices. In the early days of personal computers, it was already popular. There were basic versions, such as 23 Matches, Batnum, and Nim. Some of the versions, such as the amazing Android Nim for the PET and TRS-80, did an amazing job of presenting this classic game!

On the Android you can get NimDroid and NimSwitch, both available for free!

For iPhone/iPod Touch and even iPad users (using the iPad's "2x" mode for these apps), there's plenty of free Nim versions, including myQuickGame Free, NeonNim: The Subtraction Game, Nim Game, and PYMINIM. Update: (August 17, 2010) Another Nim game, the Race To 100 app, was originally released for 99 cents, but has been free since August 8th. This is the version of Nim taught in the 116th episode of Scam School.

If you're willing to spend a little money, there's also some nice commercial versions of Nim for Apple's mobile devices. Dual Matches, Mind Nimmer, myQuickGame, and Nim.

Special mention should be made of the commercial Cannibal Muffin and Last Stone apps. Like the aforementioned 1970s Android Nim, the authors have taken extra time and care to present Nim in an extraordinary way.

Getting away from Nim, what about this interesting problem, known as the Monty Hall Problem?

Scam School also covered this, explaining how this fooled over 1,000 PhDs when it was discussed in Marilyn Vos Savant's column. Apple mobile device users use can try this counter-intuitive problem via the commercial Monty Doors or the free Monty Hall Paradox apps.

Although you can't win with this scam every time, you can win often enough that there are con men out there who use the Monty Hall Problem's counter-intuitive nature to their advantage.

While Nim and Monty Hall reign as scams from which you can learn great lessons, there are many other ways to learn about scams with your mobile device. For iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads, Bar Tricks Free teaches you some basic scams, and its big brothers, Bar Tricks I and Bar Tricks II, both of which are paid apps, can teach you more. iDrink4Free and Gags are also available on the App Store.

Update: (August 17, 2010) The Author of the previously-mentioned Race To 100 app, also has another app called FourQuarters. From what I can tell, it's a version of the four-coin puzzle taught on the 2nd episode of Scam School.

If you're really serious about understand why these and similar scams work, Bruce Frey's book Statistics Hacks (also available in paperback) is a great, clear way to understand these often perplexing propositions. You can get a free preview of this book here, as well as the paperback link.

I'd love to hear about any insights you've developed by playing with these apps. Also, if you have any others that are relevant, I'd love to hear about them. Talk to me in the comments!

Spread The Love, Share Our Article

Related Posts

Post Details

2 Response to Scamming with Androids and Apples

9:55 PM

If you were intrigued by the Android Nim video, and would like to try it for yourself, you can!

Get a Commodore PET and or C64 emulator for your system here:

Next, get the 64 version ROM here:

...or the PET version here (Click on "Commodore PET Games" - it's on the very first "disk"):

4:47 PM

Wow! Great post! There's tons of stuff in this post. This will keep me super busy until Thursday's post. Keep it up!