Last Call: How To (Almost) Always Win At Connect Four

A friend of mine recently returned from a weeks-long trip to China and Thailand, with a little bottle of baijiu for me in tow. Of course I needed to hear everything about what he ate and drank—pictures too, please!—but among all the wonderful stories and meals, one strange detail stood out to me.

"In Phuket, the bartenders offer free drinks if you can beat them at Connect Four," he tells me.

What? A little Googling shows this is true. My friend reinforces that the bartenders are very, very good at Connect Four, to the point that the customer never wins. Essentially, they're hustling you. But just how hard is it to win at Connect Four, I asked. I mean, pretty sure it's as easy as tic-tac-toe.

That's not exactly true. I found the YouTube video above that breaks down the mathematical principles of the game, which revealed that it is a mathematical certainty that you'll win if you play perfectly by dropping your first disc into the middle column. If you don't want to get hustled by Thai bartenders, the video is worth your time.