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Bar bet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A bar bet is a bet made between two patrons at a bar. Bar bets can range from wagers about little-known trivia, such as obscure historical facts, to feats of skill and strength. Some bar bets are intended to trick the other party into losing.

Famous bar bets[edit]

  • The annual Midnight Sun baseball game played in Fairbanks, Alaska (the only game to be contested after midnight without the use of artificial lighting) was established in 1906 as the result of a bar bet.[1][2]
  • Two of Tony Hawks' books, Round Ireland With A Fridge (ISBN 0-09-186777-0) and Playing The Moldovans At Tennis (ISBN 0-09-187456-4), were written describing Hawks' attempts to win two bar bets.[3][4]
  • The film To Have and Have Not is supposedly the result of bar bet between Ernest Hemingway and Howard Hawks, with Hemingway betting Hawks that Hawks couldn't make a good film from Hemingway's worst novel.[5]
  • A common rumor claims that the creation of Scientology was the result of a bar bet between L. Ron Hubbard and Robert A. Heinlein. Richard Leiby, a reporter for The Washington Post covering the group, never found any evidence to substantiate it.[6]
  • A class of Feynman Diagram became known as a Penguin diagram due to a bar bet between physicists John Ellis and Melissa Franklin.[7]


In a jurisdiction, bar bets may or may not legally binding. Especially if gambling is illegal in the winning party's jurisdiction, it may be difficult to have a court enforce the bet.[8] A written contract, drawn up soberly the next day and signed by both parties, can avoid doubt.

For example, if one or both parties are intoxicated when the bet is made, they may be found to lack capacity to agree to a contract, and the contract would thus be found void or voidable.[9]

However, the fact that the agreement is oral but not written does not undermine it: oral contracts are valid,[10] though certain contracts must be written, under the statute of frauds, such as for the transfer of land.[11]


  1. ^ "Midnight Sun Game". Alaska Goldpanners. Archived from the original on 10 December 2005. Retrieved 2005-12-19.
  2. ^ Williams, Van (2005-06-22). "100 Years of Midnight Baseball Fun in Fairbanks: A 1906 bar bet has turned into a tradition on summer solstice". Anchorage Daily News. Archived from the original on 2005-12-20.
  3. ^ Hawks, Tony (2008-12-26). Round Ireland With A Fridge. Ebury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4070-2637-4.
  4. ^ Hawks, Tony (2013-09-10). Playing the Moldovans at Tennis. Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4668-5227-3.
  5. ^ "To Have and Have Not". The Rake. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2005-12-19.
  6. ^ Leiby, Richard. "Scientology". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  7. ^ Shifman, Mikhail (1995). "ITEP Lectures in Particle Physics". arXiv:hep-ph/9510397.
  8. ^ "Schur v. Johnson, 2 Cal.App.2d 680 | Casetext Search + Citator". casetext.com. Retrieved 2023-12-15.
  9. ^ "Can I enforce a private gambling bet?". Daily Breeze. 2017-08-29. Retrieved 2023-12-15.
  10. ^ "Oral Contract: Definition, Example, How to Prove and Enforce". Investopedia. Retrieved 2023-12-15.
  11. ^ "When is a Contract Legally Required To Be in Writing?". www.rocketlawyer.com. Retrieved 2023-12-15.

Further reading[edit]

  • Diamond Jim Tyler (April 2020). Bar Bets to Win Big Bucks: Money-Making Tricks and Brainteasers. Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0486842431.
  • Diamond Jim Tyler (September 2008). Bamboozlers: The Book of Bankable Bar Betchas, Brain Bogglers, Belly Busters & Bewitchery- Volume One. Diamond Jim Productions. ISBN 978-0-9676018-1-6.
  • Diamond Jim Tyler (December 2009). Bamboozlers: The Book of Bankable Bar Betchas, Brain Bogglers, Belly Busters & Bewitchery- Volume Two. Diamond Jim Productions. ISBN 978-0-9676018-3-0.
  • Diamond Jim Tyler (June 2013). Bamboozlers: The Book of Bankable Bar Betchas, Brain Bogglers, Belly Busters & Bewitchery- Volume Three. Diamond Jim Productions. ISBN 978-0-9676018-5-4.
  • Rub Cruit (October 1985). 175 Ways to Win a Free Drink: The Complete Book of Bar Bets. Dodd Mead. ISBN 0-396-08586-5.
  • Henny Youngman (1974). Bar bets, bar jokes, bar tricks. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-9676018-1-9.
  • Alan Ericksen (1981). Bar games, bets and challenges. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-90648-4.
  • Rich Ferguson (2010). Tricks to Pick Up Chicks: Magic Tricks, Lines, Bets, Scams & Psychology. Ingram. ISBN 978-1-4505-6018-4.
  • Ill Betcha 50 of The Best Bar Bets (August 2015) author TC Tahoe and Erick Olson