Dead pool

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For other uses, see Dead pool (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Deed poll.

A dead pool, also known as a death pool, is a game of prediction which involves guessing when someone will die. Sometimes it is a bet where money is involved.[1] The combination of dead or death, and betting pool, refers to such a gambling arrangement.[clarification needed]

An example of the concept is where a list of celebrities is decided upon, and the names are placed into individual sealed envelopes. Each player picks a sealed envelope and writes their name on the outside of it. Each week, each player pays a small amount of money. When one of the celebrities on the list dies, the envelopes are handed out and opened, the player who has the envelope with the name of the dead celebrity wins all of the accumulated cash.

Modern application[edit]

In the early 20th century, death pools were popular in dangerous sports such as motorsport, for example the first edition of the Indianapolis 500.[2]


A typical modern dead pool might have players pick out celebrities who they think will die within the year. Most games start on January 1, and run for 12 months although there are some variations on game length and timing.[citation needed]

In 2000, website Fucked Company claimed to be a "dot-com dead pool" which invited users to predict the next Internet startups to fail during that era's dot com bust.[3] The site itself folded in 2007 after a long history as a target for strategic lawsuits against public participation by companies.[4]

Application in contemporary society[edit]

Definitions of celebrity vary from contest to contest. Smaller pools may rely on consensus of the players as to who is famous. Others require an obituary to appear in a recognized newswire such as the Associated Press (AP) or Reuters. The Dead Pool, the largest in the world,[5] uses NNDB as its source of qualified celebrities, and as arbiter of their life status.

The concept and success strategies are also detailed in a (previously) annual guide called The Dead Pool, written by KQRS-FM radio personality Mike Gelfand and author Mike Wilkinson. KQRS-FM in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota also does an annual on air dead pool contest, similar to Stern's, where show hosts and listeners will attempt to pick which celebrity will die in that calendar year.

In his AP news article "Some say death pools are in poor taste",[6] (which brought national attention to The Old Blue Eyes Celebrity Death Watch) author Matt Sedensky writes, "Players scour newspapers and Web sites for news on celebrities' health; they rely on tips from insiders; and they consider a public figure's lifestyle, absence of recent appearances and rumors of illness"..

In popular culture[edit]

  • A dead pool was depicted in the 1988 Clint Eastwood film The Dead Pool.
  • A death pool was the main topic of the third episode of Season 5 of CSI: Miami called "Death Pool 100".
  • The Marvel comics anti-hero Deadpool was named so because of a dead pool bet in his origin story.
  • A dead pool was discovered at the end of Teen Wolf Season 4 Episode 4, "The Benefactor", with a list of supernaturals in Beacon Hills. While called a dead pool, it was more specifically a hit list with monetary rewards given for proof of death.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Matheson, Whitney (July 6, 2004). "Celebrity obsession extends beyond the grave". USA Today. Pop Candy (column). Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ Wilson, Phillip B (May 26, 2011). "Even the first Indy 500 race was a spectacle". Indianapolis Star. 
  3. ^ Festa, Paul (2002-08-26). "Dot-com dead pool brakes for Ford". CNet News. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Rowan, David (17 September 2000). "The dead list". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Kennedy, Kathleen (February 1, 2008), Who's in your celebrity dead pool?, Maclean 
  6. ^ Sedensky, Matt (December 29, 2006). "Some say death pools are in poor taste". Herald Tribune.