What Is Optimal Strategy in Game Theory?


Jane Flores

Game theory is a branch of mathematics that studies the strategic interaction between individuals or groups. It has numerous applications in various fields, including economics, political science, psychology, and biology. One of the key concepts in game theory is the concept of optimal strategy.

What is optimal strategy?

An optimal strategy is a set of actions that a player can take to maximize their expected payoff in a game. In other words, it is the best course of action for a player given what they know about the game and their opponent’s strategies.

Types of games

There are two types of games in game theory: cooperative and non-cooperative. In cooperative games, players can negotiate with each other and work together to achieve a common goal. Non-cooperative games, on the other hand, do not allow for negotiation or cooperation between players.

Non-cooperative games

In non-cooperative games, players must make decisions without knowing what their opponents will do. One example of such a game is the prisoner’s dilemma.

In this game, two criminals are arrested and questioned separately. If both cooperate with each other by remaining silent, they will each receive a light sentence. However, if one confesses and implicates the other while the other remains silent, the confessor will receive no sentence while the other receives a heavy sentence.

In this scenario, an optimal strategy would be for both criminals to remain silent since it would result in lower overall sentences for both parties.

How to determine an optimal strategy

There are several methods that can be used to determine an optimal strategy in game theory:

  • Dominant strategy: In some cases, one option will always be better than another no matter what your opponent does. This is called a dominant strategy.
  • Nash equilibrium: This occurs when each player’s strategy is the best response to their opponent’s strategy.
  • Minimax: In this method, you choose the option that minimizes your maximum loss. This is useful in zero-sum games where one player’s gain is the other player’s loss.

Limitations of optimal strategy

While optimal strategy can be a useful tool in game theory, it has its limitations. One limitation is that it assumes all players are rational and will always choose the best option for themselves. However, this may not always be the case in real-world situations.

Another limitation is that it assumes all players have complete information about the game and their opponents’ strategies. In reality, players may have incomplete or inaccurate information, which can affect their decision-making.


Optimal strategy is a key concept in game theory that allows players to determine the best course of action given what they know about the game and their opponents’ strategies. While it has its limitations, it can be a powerful tool for making strategic decisions in various fields.