Nuclear War Death Pool

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"You don't have to pay to enter," Heidelberger says. "You can contribute as much as you like — or nothing — and you still make a profit on the war."

As of June 25, 303 people had entered the pool. The latest contestant, according to the Web site, was Andy Huchings of Buffalo, N.Y. He predicts the first nuclear bomb will fall on Nov. 19, causing one megadeath.

"Megadeath" is Cold War-speak that means 1 million in casualties. Many entrants are guessing that the first strike will yield 30 megadeaths.

‘Death Pool’ Dave’s Banner Year

The serious death pool players aren't really interested in Heidelberger's site. The prizes are small, and many players say it's more fun to pick on celebrities.

"Famous people are going to die no matter what. This is our little way to thumb our nose at the Grim Reaper," says "Death Pool" Dave, one of the high-profile gamblers on the Internet's death pool circuit, who's appeared on dozens of radio and TV shows.

The Detroit health-care researcher says he won't give his full name. "I'm sure my company doesn't want people to know that one of their researchers plays the death pools," he says.

Popular picks in the death pool world include aging celebrities like Katharine Hepburn, former President Ronald Reagan, Muhammad Ali and Bob Hope.

In a typical game, you give the pool a list of celebrities and earn points for each death. Usually, the points are determined on a "Minus 100" rule. When Mafia chief John Gotti died recently at age 61, Death Pool Dave earned a cool 39 points.

"Everyone picks Bob Hope. But he's 99, you only get one point," Dave says.

Should Hope reach his 100th birthday — and The Wolf Files ardently hopes that he will — he'll still be worth one point.

Cash Payments for Inside Information

The big death pool scores come when younger celebrities meet an untimely passing. Dave hardly cried when Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley died at 34 of a drug overdose earlier this year. He won $15,000.