Death By Marbles

You are a prisoner sentenced to death. The Emperor offers you a chance to live by playing a simple game. He gives you 50 black marbles, 50 white marbles and 2 empty bowls and instructs you to divide the 100 marbles into the two bowls. You can divide them however you want as long as all the marbles are in the bowls. You will be blindfolded and the bowls and marbles will be thoroughly mixed. You will then choose a single marble from one of the bowls. If the marble is white, you live. Black and you will be put to death.

How do you divide the marbles up so that you have the greatest probability of choosing a white marble?

Place one white marble in one bowl and place the rest of the marbles in the other bowl (49 whites, and 50 blacks).

This way you begin with a 50/50 chance of choosing the bowl with one white marble and living. Even if you choose the other bowl, you still have an almost 50% chance of picking one of the 49 white marbles. There are no guarantees in life, but this gives you the best change of surviving.

Posted in Brain Teasers


6 Comments on "Death By Marbles"

WHAT?! says
May 9, 2016 @ 20:22


Me says
December 18, 2016 @ 13:51

@Dan, look up the prisoner hat riddle
it has 3 prisoners.

Mia says
December 22, 2017 @ 07:08

I thougt no aswell! WEIERD!!!!!!!!!!!

Shawn says
April 23, 2019 @ 15:49

How is he supposed to pick the first white marble huh? Hes blindfolded remember?

Kenzie says
October 19, 2021 @ 16:37

This seems quite true. In fact, it seems so real, I want to try it for myself. It seems very interesting almost like the wheel of life.

Andrew says
April 10, 2022 @ 19:28


They are not blindfolded until they’ve put the marbles in to the bowls. Then you pick blindly 👍

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