A betting game icebreaker

A-betting-game-icebreakerThis was my go-to icebreaker activity this summer when I spent four weeks working with teens aged 14-17.  It works best with groups but might also be used during 1-1 lessons with teens and adults. The activity combines a tried and tested “Two truths and a lie” with the concept of any betting game. Keep reading to find out more.


In order to prepare for this game, come up with three statements about yourself. Two of them should be true and one should be a lie. This is an example of such statements I used with my teen group in the last week of our summer school.

The task

Step 1

Start the activity as if you were playing “Two truths and a lie”. I wrote more about it here. The aim of the activity is for the students to determine in pairs or small groups whether the statement you present is true or not. They do it by asking you questions which you try to answer as convincingly as possible. You may award points to pairs/groups who successfully establish whether the statement was true or false.

The twist for this activity comes at the point where instead of just having your students ask you questions, you tell each pair/group to imagine they have €100. Each pair/group are allowed two questions to determine whether your statement is true or false. Once all the pairs/groups have asked their questions, each team have a couple of minutes to decide together how much of their imaginary money they are going to bet on whether each statement is true or false. In order to do so, they need to negotiate and recall information they gathered while asking their questions and listening to what you said in response to other questions as well.

When the time to bet is up, you reveal the truth (and a lie!) and each team win/lose the amount they betted. Compare the results to see who was the most accurate in their guesses

Twist! Don’t tell your students beforehand how many statements are true/false. Let them be alert and more inquisitive.

Step 2

It is time for the students to take centre stage. Divide your students into small groups (3 being the minimum). Each student takes some time to write down two or three statements about themselves (depends on how much time you have left and how strong you think your students might be).

Appoint/let the students decide who in each group will reveal their statements first. Then, the procedure repeats: the remaining two have an imaginary budget, they ask two questions per statement to determine whether it is true or false, and then they discuss how much they want to bet. Then the truth about the first student is revealed and another one from the group becomes the one whose sentences are discussed.

Step 3

When all the students have had their statements discussed, it is time to ask different groups to share facts they remember about each other. This way, students might learn about each other and it also opens up the floor for follow-up questions.

Personal Experience

I like this activity a lot since it literally breaks the ice between a lot of people at once. There is time for the teacher to model the game and be the centre of attention while the students collaborate, but there is also plenty of time for the students to work together without the teacher as much as monitor.

Giving students the money to bet with makes them more careful when asking their questions and listening to answers. It also adds some competition to the activity, but without pitting teams against each other (although it makes sense to ask them to keep track of their gains and losses so that the overall balance might be compared at the end of the lesson)

This icebreaker also helps us to gauge where our students are when it comes to their English:

  • how good are they at asking and answering questions?
  • how firm is their grasp of tenses?
  • what is their range of vocabulary like?

More advanced and confident students will, naturally, be able to lie more convincingly which makes this game all the more entertaining.

Most importantly, this game gives students a real reason to be curious about each other and collaborate to agree on whether what they have hard is true. It has quickly become one of my favourite icebreakers and I plan to use it with my classes at the beginning of this semester as well.

For more ideas for icebreakers see here:

–> A low-prep icebreaker: time travel

–> More back to school icebreakers

–> Adding new twists to old icebreakers

–> 5 icebreakers for the first day of class

Are here any fav icebreakers you would like to share? Leave a comment!


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