Lobster Pots - a Mathematics Game Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Lobster Pots - a Mathematics Game

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A picture of a lobster, some money, and dice.

Lobster Pots is a simple mathematics game that is fun to play. It helps students with simple skills such as multiplication, addition and subtraction, and can also be used to help students with more complicated skills such as probability and percentages.


Before you begin, you will need a few simple pieces of equipment:

How to Play

You begin by drawing the table shown below:

DayPots InshorePots OffshoreCurrentMoney EarnedMoney LostBalance

You begin with six lobster pots and a certain amount of money (this can be anything you wish, however, the best amounts to begin with are anything between £20 and £100).

Each day, you place your six pots either inshore or offshore (they do not all have to be in the same place). When you have decided where to put your pots you should write the number of pots you want to place inshore under the 'Pots Inshore' heading, and you should write the number of pots you want offshore under the 'Pots Offshore' heading. All the participants of the game should place their hands on their heads once they have decided where to put their pots.

One person should be chosen to decide the current for that day (if this game is played in a classroom, the person to decide the current is usually the teacher). Before the players make their choice, one of the dice should be rolled. If the number on the die is three or below, then the person rolling the die should say that the weather is looking good. If the number on the die is four or above, they should say the weather looks bad. When saying this, the roller of the die can vary what they say. For example, if the number on the die is 3, the roller could say, 'There are a few clouds in the sky, but on the whole it should be a good day'.

When everyone has placed their hands on their heads, another one of the dice should be rolled. If the number on the die is three or less then you should put a cross or write 'No' under the heading 'Current'. If the number on the die is four or above then you should put a tick or write 'Yes' under the heading 'Current'.

The money you earn and lose depends on whether there is a current or not. Below are two tables which shows this:

No CurrentInshoreOffshore
Money Earned (per pot)£2£6
Money Lost (per pot)£0£0

Money Earned (per pot)£4£0
Money Lost (per pot)£0-£10

When there is a current and your pots are offshore, the pots are destroyed, so you have to replace them (if you haven't already guessed from the information above, the pots cost £10 each to replace).

Once you have worked out how much money you have earned and lost, you add the earnings to your balance, subtract the losings, then write down your new balance. Below is an example of this, with the starting balance being £50:

DayPots InshorePots OffshoreCurrentMoney EarnedMoney LostBalance

You do the same for every day of the week, and you can play as many weeks as you like in one game (Sundays are optional, however, if you are playing just one week, it is best to play them, and if you are playing multiple weeks, it is best to not play them).

Wednesdays and Saturdays

Wednesdays and Saturdays are lottery days. Each player writes a number between two and 12 on their piece of paper. They then place their hands on their heads. When everyone is ready, someone rolls two dice, and the sum of the numbers on the dice is the winning number. If you win, you get £100.

This helps students with probability, as they should work out the most likely numbers to come up and choose one of them.


On Saturdays you can gain interest on your balance as if the money was in the bank (if you have a negative balance then you can either gain no interest at all or your debt will increase). Good percentage increases to use for interest are anything between 5% and 30%.

Having percentage increases is useful for more advanced students, but not for younger students.


Sundays are horrible days for players, as they are charged rent. The rent is usually £50 although other amounts can be used.

All games should end on a Sunday, after the rent is taken. Then, the person who has the most money at the end of the game is the winner.

Other Rules

Below are a few other rules of the game that have not yet been mentioned:

  • Each player should always have six pots, no more or no less. If a player cannot afford the new pots, then they simply go into debt buying them.

  • No cheating - the game is much more fun without it.

Seasonal Variations

You can create for yourself seasonal variations of the game, for times such as Christmas or Easter. For example, you could have 'Reindeer Hunting' at Christmas. the game could easily be altered to reflect this. Instead of 'Pots', you could have 'Cages', instead of 'Inshore' and 'Offshore', you could have the 'Magical Forest' and the 'Dark Wood', and instead of 'Current' you could have 'Storm'.

Simple alterations like this to create seasonal variations of the game can be a fun treat for students - for example on their last day before breaking up for the holidays.

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