What Is Centipede Game in Game Theory?


Vincent White

Game theory is the study of strategic decision-making in situations where multiple parties are involved. It involves analyzing the outcomes of various choices made by each participant and predicting the potential consequences.

One of the most popular and interesting games in game theory is the Centipede Game. In this article, we will take a closer look at what is Centipede Game in game theory.

What is a Centipede Game?

A Centipede Game is a sequential game that consists of two players, namely the “mover” and the “waiter”. The game begins with a pot of money that both players can win, and each player has one opportunity to take the pot or pass it to their opponent.

If they pass it, their opponent can either take or pass it back. The process continues until someone takes the pot of money.

The Rules of Play

In a Centipede Game, both players have to choose between two options: “take” or “pass”. The first player (the mover) starts with a pot containing a certain amount of money.

The mover has two options: they can take all the money in the pot or pass it to their opponent (the waiter). If they choose to pass it, then the waiter has two options – either take all the money in the pot or pass it back to the mover.

If at any point, one player chooses to take all the money in the pot, then that player wins. However, if both players choose to pass on every turn except for when there is only one unit left in the pot, then whoever has possession takes that last unit and wins.

What Does It Teach Us?

The Centipede Game shows us how people make decisions based on what they think others will do. It illustrates how cooperation can lead to better outcomes for both parties involved.

The game also demonstrates the importance of trust, communication, and mutual understanding in a situation where multiple parties are involved. If both players trust each other enough to cooperate, they can achieve the best possible outcome.


In conclusion, the Centipede Game is a fascinating example of a sequential game in game theory that highlights the importance of cooperation and trust between players. It shows that in situations where multiple parties are involved, it’s crucial to make decisions based on what you think others will do. So, if you ever find yourself playing a Centipede Game, remember to communicate and cooperate with your opponent for the best possible outcome.