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Investing resources for hoped rewards based on a non-certain outcome of an event.

This pattern is a still a stub.

Betting is the act of risking resources for the chance of winning more resources than was used. The proportions between what is gained and what is risked is linked to the perceived probability of winning, but in the case where Betting is done by players this does not have to be close to the real probability.

Example: Roulette is a typical example where the exchanges rate between bets and rewards are open and the probability for each outcome is static. The proportions between investments and rewards are tilted in the house's favor and the knowledge of this and the probabilities is easily available.

Example: betting in Poker is based on the cards held and the actions of other players. The proportions between risk and reward in Poker are not fixed but vary due to the willingness of all players to bet.


Examples of Betting are easy to find among Gambling Games, e.g. Guts, Poker, and Roulette. While these typically make use of real world money as the resource being betted, other games, e.g. Liar's Dice, show that other types of resources can be used which either only have value within the game or primarily have other values than monetary.

Using the pattern

Betting can be initiated by people using game resources as Rewards for winning a bet regardless of game rules. That is, the possibility of engaging in Betting can make people set up Self-Facilitated Games that are Meta Games which cause Extra-Game Consequences for the game whose resources are used. These Extra-Game Consequences are typically also Committed Goals. While if can be difficult designing a game against people engaging in these types of Betting, the presence of Game Element Trading or Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership can make this more likely since players can already be engaged in exchanging game elements. That Betting can occur on the outcomes of games make it further difficult to avoid the possibility of Betting Meta Games, and the participants of the Betting do not need to be the participants of the game, i.e. they can be Spectators.

Regardless if [[Betting] is done as a Meta Games or inherent in the game itself, it relies on that players have Ownership of Resources usable in the Betting. Typically, players need to have Gain Ownership goals as well but these do not need to relate to the same types of Resources as used in the Betting, and the Betting can be for other things not necessarily perceived as Resources normally, e.g. determining turn order in games with Turn Taking (use of First Player Tokens show how turn order can be blurred into being more of a Resources).

Can Be Instantiated By

, Push Your Luck, , Uncertainty of Outcome

Can Be Modulated By

Arithmetic Progression, Dedicated Game Facilitators, Imperfect Information, Quick Games, Predictable Consequences, Strategic Knowledge, Tournaments,

Diegetic Aspects

Interface Aspects

Narration Aspects


Betting is action which offers Rewards based on the risk of losing Investments, and as such is a typical example of Risk/Reward. As long as the bet isn't immediately resolved, the pattern supports Anticipation and Tension due to Delayed Effects and Hovering Closures.

When Betting is done against others, it is a form of Conflict but it can also indirectly be related to Conflict if one is Betting on others failing or suffering negative consequences.

Can Instantiate

Bluffing, Closed Economies, Emotional Engrossment, Freedom of Choice, Gameplay Mastery, Luck, Player-Defined Goals, Randomness, Resource Management, Social Skills, Transfer of Control,

Can Modulate

Bidding, Gain Ownership, Resources


Can Instantiate

Anticipation, Bluffing, Closed Economies, Conflict, Delayed Effects, Emotional Engrossment, Extra-Game Consequences, Freedom of Choice, Gameplay Mastery, Hovering Closures, Investments, Luck, Player-Defined Goals, Randomness, Resource Management, Rewards, Risk/Reward, Self-Facilitated Games, Social Skills, Tension, Transfer of Control,

with Extra-Game Consequences

Committed Goals

with Self-Facilitated Games

Meta Games

Can Modulate

Bidding, Gain Ownership, Resources

Can Be Instantiated By

Gain Ownership, Game Element Trading, Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership, Ownership, Push Your Luck, Spectators, Uncertainty of Outcome

Can Be Modulated By

Arithmetic Progression, Dedicated Game Facilitators, Imperfect Information, Quick Games, Predictable Consequences, Strategic Knowledge, Tournaments,

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Betting that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design[1].


  1. Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.