Five Pirates

4 stars
You have five pirates, ranked from 5 to 1 in descending order. The top pirate has the right to propose how 100 gold coins should be divided among them. But the others get to vote on his plan, and if fewer than half agree with him, he gets killed. How should he allocate the gold in order to maximize his share but live to enjoy it?

Hint: One pirate ends up with 98 percent of the gold.

















  • Moderate
  • Logic
  • Mathematical
Submit your vote:



he gets someone else to be selfish and want more gold...then they get killed and this happens multiple times and so on and so forth

- (27 Nov 2008)

He can give another two pirates the same share as him so they would vote for him. For example: He can have 32 gold coins, the other two pirates each can have 32 gold coins and the last two pirates will get 2 gold coins each. This way he still gets morethan half of the pirates agree with him.
- Black Rose (7 May 2009)

1.Top pirate=50
2. Pirate =20
3. Pirate =15
4. Pirate =10
5. Pirate =5
Total =100
- Nan Nwe Nwe (28 Jul 2009)

#5 can keep 98 and give #3 and #1 only one coin each.

Alternate scenario - If any of #3 and #1 are dissatisfied and vote against him, #4 needs only #2 to support him with a 99-1 split to get the votes he needs, which means #3 and #1 walk with nothing.

Alternate-Alternate Scenario - If #2 is dissatisfied with this alternate scenario, #3 can give #1 one coin and get the vote.

Alternate-Alternate-Alternate Scenario -If #1 doesn't vote, he is screwed since #2 can go away leaving him with nothing. So his vote can be bought definitely for one coin.
- Nathan (24 Aug 2009)

welllets say pirates are poorly educated and cannot count money but the top pirate was educated a little and is able to count money so he gives the magority to him and less to the others
- (18 Nov 2009)

#5 keep 70,
#4 keep 15,
#3 keep 15
- dodo (16 Feb 2010)

he tells the others that they will all get half and they all agree. he then gives each of them half a coin and keeps the other 98 coins to himself
- Awesome (7 Mar 2010)

He gives away two coins to 2 pirates below, since he is the only one who has the right to propose how gold should be divided, they must keep him alive if they want anything.
- Toni (17 Mar 2010)

Pirate #1 keeps 98 coins
Pirate #2+3 get 1 coin each/
- (26 May 2010)

he gets 33 gold, 33 gold to another pirate and 33 to a third pirate. The last two share the 1 gold. He lives because 3 of the 5 agree to it.
- john (21 Jun 2010)

i think chuck norris gets the 100 coins
- Yoan (29 Jun 2010)

Assuming everyone acts logically and cannot negotiate:

If only 1 pirate remains, he gets all the money, thus will always vote no.

If 2 pirates remain, pirate 1 will get all the money because pirate 1 will vote no to any other deal.

If 3 pirates remain, pirate 2 will accept 1 coin because he will not get anything otherwise. Pirate 4 knows pirate 3 will vote no to any deal because by killing pirate 4, pirate 3 gets nearly all the money. If pirate 3 and pirate 1 both vote no to pirate 4, he will be killed.

Therefore, pirate 4 must vote yes to pirate 5's suggestion and only needs to offer 2 coins to pirate 2 in order to beat pirate 3's offer.

Therefore, pirate 5 keeps 98 coins and offers pirate 2, 2 coins. Pirate 4 and pirate 2 vote yes to pirate 5's offer.

- CS (29 Nov 2010)

I agree with CS but don't think Pirate 5 needs to beat the 1 coin that Pirate 3 offers, he only has to match it.
- SC (20 Dec 2010)

He tells #1 and #2 that they will each get one coin more than what #3 and #4 will get. But does not say how many #3 and #4 get.
#1 and #2 will vote yes as they are getting more.
Then he give zero to #3 and #4. #1 and #2 gets one each. #5 gets to keep 98.
- Anand (11 Jan 2012)

He bribes two of the pirates by giving them a coin each in return for their agreement. Following their agreement, he proceeds to keep the remaining 98% for himself and says "Welcome to politics!".
- id36 (10 Jan 2014)

The hint suggests that the top pirate gives one gold coin to each of the two bottom pirates, since they would each get nothing otherwise. It's clear that with only two pirates left, pirate #2 could keep it all. So with three pirates left, pirate #2 will veto any distribution #3 proposes, so #3 needs to win over #1, and one coin is better than none.
However, pirates are people too, complete with their innate notions of fairness. So rather than risk offending any of the other pirates, and ending up dead, he'll be wise to split the money evenly, 20 coins each. Even #4 will be wise to go along with this, or he could end up dead on the second round for demonstrating selfishness on the first round.
- Ron (3 Jul 2014)

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