Hey, Pookie. I seen Ray Ray hangin’ down on Hull Street. Wanna go pick up a twenty?”

I’m there, Puddin. I got half money. How bout you?

Sure do. Let’s go blaze up.

“Half money” is streetspeak for half the amount needed for a particular drug transaction. In the example above, Pookie and Puddin propose the purchase of a $20 rock of crack cocaine, with each offering to put $10 into the deal. Such joint purchasing agreements are apparently quite commonplace, although they may arise for a variety of reasons.

  • The first, and least interesting, reason is that both Pookie and Puddin honestly have only $10 each. In this case, the proposal of “half money” is a genuine offer to pool resources in order to purchase a desired product. < /li>

  • The second possibility is that Pookie has more than $10, say $20, while Puddin has only $10 (or vice versa). In this case, Pookie’s offer of half money is really an attempt to capture some portion of Puddin’s $10 by consuming as much of the $20 rock as possible (also known as bogarting) while retaining $10 in the hopes of a joint transaction with another party in the future. < /li>
  • The third, and most interesting, scenario occurs when both Pookie and Puddin have $20, but each proposes only half money in an attempt to capture the other’s resources. In this case, they will enter into the proposed transaction, with each trying to consume the product as quickly as possible. Actual consumption will, of course, be a function of each player’s innate abilities, but upon completion, the two will be faced with a new game (and that’s what this is, a multi-stage competitive game). They will each have $10, and have the option to enter into another transaction together, or to engage in a search for a new potential partner.< /li>
  • This last scenario presents the players with some fairly complex strategic options. If they both propose half money and consume the product in the first round, they are faced with the decision whether to propose a second such transaction with the same partner. If they do, they have not only signaled their willingness to enter into the second transaction, but have also revealed their proclivity for misrepresenting their true resource level. Each player will then be more suspicious of the other, although, since this is a street situation, some non-zero level of suspicion must have been assumed from the outset.

    If, having learned of the other player’s willingness both to purchase and to lie, each player nevertheless decides to enter into the second transaction with the other player, the game has resulted in a form of negative contracting. For situations in which the parties’ resource level exceeds the amount required for two transactions, this process will continue until all resources are exhausted, with each player attempting to convince the other throughout that his own resources have been depleted, while at the same time trying to ensure the purchase of the maximum amount of product.

    I know this presentation sounds facetious, but it’s actually a fairly accurate, albeit rough, game theoretic analysis of one aspect of street behavior. There are many more. If someone hasn’t written a math dissertation or journal article applying game theoretic strategic analysis to street culture, they should.

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