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Lodden Thinks

Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of World Gaming magazine.

Lodden Thinks is an amazing game created by degenerate gamblers to pass the time whilst at the poker table. This is just another example of the mindset of some gamblers and the games they play.

Poker players are among the most degenerate of all gamblers, always on the lookout for another opportunity to place a bet. With some poker sessions extending to many hours or even days, many professionals like to keep sharp by entertaining themselves with extracurricular wagers known as “prop betting”.

A prop bet, or proposition bet, is an agreed bet made between two people, where one person proposes the matter to be bet upon. The most common prop bet is a coin toss where one person calls heads or tails.

Historically the most common prop bet seen at the poker table has been on the predominant card color, red or black, of the flop (the first three community cards turned over in the center of the table in a hold’em or Omaha poker game). This was an effective way to gamble but in all truthfulness lacked the excitement these gambling machines so craved. The quest for a more exciting prop bet is where this story starts.

In 2008 a group of professional poker players set out to amuse themselves during the World Series of Poker Europe. The brains trust behind Lodden Thinks was the American duo of Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak, considered by many as two of the world’s craziest punters. Also present was Johnny Lodden, a highly respected Norwegian player who made a huge name for himself playing online poker.

Esfandiari and Laak started to bet on questions of estimation. This is a common thing for gamblers to do – one player will present a “line” for some random matter such as the height of the Eiffel Tower or the cost of a particular item or any other question with a numerical answer, and the other player will take the “over” or “under” on that line.

Esfandiari and Laak became frustrated at the difficulty of finding the answers to certain questions. They then concluded they didn’t need to find the answer at all, they could just bet on the opinion of a third person, in their case Johnny Lodden.

Here’s how it works:

  • Someone proposes a matter to be bet on. The matter must have a numerical answer. The crazier the matter, the better – you are only limited by your imagination. Try to choose something your “Lodden thinker” will have a strong or strange opinion about. The matter might be the amount of money required for a particular person to do a particular thing, or the number of girls a specific person has slept with, or something random like the number of security cameras in a particular casino.
  • The “Lodden thinker” decides, to the best of his ability, his answer to the question. He then writes it down somewhere (or enters it in his phone), so he can’t change his answer after he’s heard the bidding and the bets.
  • The players betting then set the line by bidding numbers in turn, higher and higher. When the next player due to bid is not prepared to bid any higher, he automatically takes the “under”, and the last bidder takes the “line and over”.
  • If there are more than two players involved (remembering the “Lodden thinker” is not a player), the players additional to the line setter and the player who took the “under” decide whether they are betting on the “under” or the “line and over”. If there is more than one of these additional players, they must choose in turn.
  • The “Lodden thinker” then reveals his answer and the bets are paid off.

The beauty of playing Lodden Thinks is that you can get a big advantage by understanding how the “Lodden thinker” thinks. Understanding how people think is one of the most important skills at the poker table, so playing Lodden Thinks actually improves your poker game!

If you need some extra mental stimulation during your next tournament, why not give Lodden Thinks a try? You just need yourself, at least one other player and a “Lodden”. Your chosen Lodden needs to be impartial, must take his role seriously, and give answers to the best of his ability. Lodden Thinks is also a great game to play amongst a group of friends at a party or whilst enjoying a drink.

This is a fine example of gambling at its purest and it comes as no surprise that it was invented by some of the biggest and “sickest” gamblers of them all.

Lodden Thinks: An Example

There are five players at a poker table: Andrew, Brian, Charlie, Dave and Ed. They choose to play for HK$1,000 a game. The players choose Ed as the “Lodden thinker”.

There is an attractive waitress working in the poker room. Someone proposes the question to bet on is, “How many contacts are in the contact list of her mobile phone?”

Next, Ed must decide his answer, to the best of his ability. Ed writes his answer down and doesn’t tell anyone. We’ll get back to that number later.

The players decide the bidding order will be alphabetical, that is Andrew followed by Brian, then Charlie and lastly Dave. Each bid must be more than the previous bid, until the next person due to bid chooses to take the “under” instead of bidding. Let’s say the bidding goes like this:

50 contacts and over
80 and over
97 and over
112 and over
113 and over
20 and over
Charlie: 121 and over
Dave: 122 and over
Andrew: 123 and over

At this point, Brian refuses to bid, and is automatically assigned the “unders”. Charlie then has to choose which side of the line he wants, either “under 123” or “123 and over”. Let’s say he chooses the unders. Dave then has the same choice, and let’s say he also chooses the unders

Now it’s time to reveal Ed’s answer. Remember it doesn’t matter how many contacts the attractive waitress actually has in her phone. All that matters is how many Ed thinks she has. Ed shows everyone the number he has written down, which is 157! The “overs” win.

All the players on the “unders” lose HK$1,000 apiece, so Brian, Charlie and Dave each pay HK$1,000, to be shared amongst the winning players. In this case Andrew was the only player on the “overs”, so he scoops the pool and wins HK$3,000