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The Mentalist Betting Game Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 18 December 2008

The Mentalist is CBS's new spin on the detective/crime scene genre of TV shows.  It is like a modern day Sherlock Holmes and it is amazingly popular.  The characters are fun, quirky, and interesting.  The "mystery" part of the plot captures the ellusive aspect of making sense while not being obvious. Watching the "mentalist" do his stuff is intriguing as well.  This is definitely one of the better shows on TV right now. One of our favorite things to do during the show is to try and figure out who the guilty party is.  In most cases it is a surprise but after the fact you can see how all of the pieces fit together.  It is tantalizing to think that there is enough information to figure it out during the show but it is still not obvious.  This is a part of the fun of the show.

While watching the show recently, and trying to figure it out, I realized that we could make a fun game out of it.  And so the "Mentalist Betting Game" was born.  Here is how it works.


The basic idea is that each player is trying to figure out who the guilty party is as soon as possible. Once they know, or are willing to make a guess, they make a bet.  At the end of the episode the guilty character is revealed.  The player who picked that character wins the pot.


At each commercial break there is a "betting round".  During this round each player has an opportunity to make a guess of who they think the guilty party is.  If a player has a guess then they pay into the pot and state their guess.  From that point on, the character that that player named is "locked" and no one else in future rounds can pick that character.  If other players, during that same round, want to pick the same character that is ok.  All of the players who picked a winning character will split the pot at the end.  The key point is that once a character has been named it is locked for all future rounds until the player (or players) who picked the character relinquishes the claim on that character.

The amount of money paid to the pot increases with each commercial break.  For the first break it is twenty-five cents, for the second break it is fifty cents, third break seventy-five cents, and so on.  

A player can change his (or her) bet on any commercial break.  At that point they just have to pay the current bet amount.  They don't get credit for what they have already paid.  Guessing on every round could get a bit expensive! 

Once the episode reveals the guilty party, whichever player picked the character get the whole pot.  If multiple players picked the same character then the pot is split evenly.  If no one picked the correct character then the pot is split evenly between all players who put at least one bet in (no matter how much anyone put in).

A lucky, or smart, person can bet on a character in the first round for only twenty-five cents.  If they have picked correctly then at the end of the episode, when the guilt party is revealed, then they win the entire pot.

There is some strategy here.  Betting early doesn't cost as much and it locks a character but it is also based on very little information.  Playing it safe and waiting till further in the episode means that it will cost more to make the bet and there is a chance that the character will be locked.

I have described the game using money to bet with (just a small amount but it's money none-the-less).   It is not required to play this game with money.  It would be easy to use something else.  For example, snack-sized candy bars (one on the first break, two on the second, and so on) would be great.  Everyone brings a bag of their favorite candy and the winner walks away with a good stash of afternoon snacks.  A little imagination can probably come up with a lot more ideas of things to bet.

Finally, it should go without saying but I'm afraid it doesn't, it is cheating to already know the outcome of the show before starting to watch it.  If any player has seen the episode already, or found out the answer by some other means, then he (or she) must state that information at the first commercial break (not who the guilt party is, but that he knows who it is).

Now, go watch the show and have some fun!


Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 December 2008 )

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