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Lost $500K Playing Rock Paper Scissors

These are the type of stories which fill us with a glow of happiness. This one concerns a businessman who managed to lose a whopping $368,628 playing rock, paper, scissors will not have to pay out after losing. A Canadian court sitting in Quebec upheld an earlier appeal saying that the stakes were excessive. Like no kidding!

playing rock paper scissors

Introduction: Lost $500K Playing Rock Paper Scissors

Just in case you don’t know, the game of playing rock paper scissors or Roshanbo” as it’s called locally, is a hand game played in school playgrounds around the world. Each player must simultaneously form one of three shapes with their outstretched hand. Now rock crushes scissors, scissors beats paper, and paper covers rock. Now you know!

Way back in 2011, a certain Michel Primeau managed to beat his (former!) friend, Edmund Mark Hooper in a very high stakes game of double or nothing roshambo battle. After the match, Primeau made Hooper sign a notarized recognition. This was to say that the debt was real and was secured by a mortgage on Hooper’s home. As you might imagine, Hooper claims that this was all fantasy and none of these events happened. He says that the “agreement” signed by himself, was simply a “simulation”. It was actually designed to protect his house from seizure by the Quebec tax authority. This was in connection to the bankruptcy of his business, Digiscreen, a media company of which he was a director.

To add a bit of spice and confusion to this story, we need to introduce the lovely ad fragrant Susanna Iwanow, who was at the time, the wife of Hooper. Apparently there was a kind of “love triangle” going on.

Is Rock Paper Scissors Game of Skill?

Tired of waiting for his rock paper scissors winnings, Primeau decided to go to court in 2017 in order to enforce the contract. Well, things are not quite so simple. The court was to spend nearly all it’s time trying to decide whether a debt from a children’s game could be enforced. In other words, it was such a debt a valid gambling debt. Now in the state of Quebec, gambling losses are enforceable if “The outcome of that activity depends solely on the skill or physical exertion of the participants,” or “The amount wagered is not immoderate, given the circumstances.” He sounds like a maniac at one of the online casino sites in the US.

playing rock paper scissors
There are many strategies

Finally, in 2017, the Superior Judge presiding over the case, Chantal Chatelain, ruled that playing rock paper scissors did qualify as a legal gambling debt. This is because the court decided that the game did indeed rely on a degree of skill. Maybe to you, the game may appear to e completely based on chance. people playing were making completely random decisions. But the court concluded, that as rational beings, a player could employ game theory in order to second guess his opponents’ next move. He could do this based on previous gameplay, a thing like eye movement, and tenseness of the arm muscles. Chatelain also noted that “In certain precise circumstances, [the game can] call upon the skill of the parties, particularly in the speed of execution, the sense of observation, or the putting in place of a strategic sequence.”

Null and Void Contract

In spite of this ruling, the judge went on to rule the contract null and void. She decided that the amount wagered was immoderate and therefore the contract was invalid. Later an appeals court was to uphold this decision. Though this new ruling took less note of game theory probabilities and invested more in the validity of the contract. In other words, playing rock paper scissors for such large sums was not legally valid.

Bizarre Love Triangle

To inject some more weirdness into an already strange situation, Hooper then claimed that Primeau and his ex-wife, Iwanow, had been engaged to be married in 2014. He argued that this fact was pertinent to the case, as the lovely couple had eyes on his house. Hooper told the court that he had suspicions that the lovers had continued their affair for many years. This was both before and after his own marriage with her ended in divorce.

The couple, Primeau and Iwanow, both denied any affair or allegations that they had been previously engaged. But the court heard plenty of testimony to prove the contrary. The court said that all of their testimonies from all three parties were, “riddled with contractions and improbabilities”. In the end, the court stated that it was none the wiser about the relationships between the parties involved. “The credibility of all the witnesses is severely tested and the path to the search for the truth is strewn with pitfalls,” wrote the judges. “The institution in May 2014 of divorce proceedings between Mr. Hooper and Ms. Iwanow and their deep animosity is probably not unrelated to this situation.”

So there you have it. If you’re gonna be playing rock paper scissors, maybe don’t do it in Quebec. And if you do, then leave out the wife swapping. Anyhow you can find more sensible forms of wagering at the online gambling sites in the US.

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