Place your bets, ghouls.
By Linda
An American man is taking bets on the time the first bomb detonates in India or Pakistan. You don't have to guess who strikes first. Just make sure to also guess how many millions of innocent people die — that's how a tiebreaker is decided.

Luke Heidelberger's stab at dark humor is intended to get people talking about how close we're coming to nuclear war in South Asia.

'My little death pool isn't encouraging the Indians and Pakistanis to nuke each other. I'm just trying to emphasize how absurd this whole thing is in my own small way,' he says.

'If the leaders of those two countries are going to be so stupid and so arrogant as to gamble with the lives of millions of their citizens in a deadly game of nuclear brinksmanship, why shouldn't we gamble too and at least have some fun with it? At least my game might get people talking.'

Heidelberger, a 28-year-old computer programmer from Indianapolis, says he's not affiliated with any political group. This is just his personal statement.

Compared to the bigger games on the Internet, the Indo-Pakistani Death Pool is small potatoes. The prize is only $120, and Heidelberger put up most of the money himself.

'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.”

Heidelberger, however, says he's hoping that the bombing never comes. In a perfect world, India and Pakistan will disarm and he'll throw a 'nonproliferation party' with money in the pot.

'Unfortunately,' he says, 'I'm a pessimist. Someone will win my contest and the rest of the world will lose.'

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