DietBet Review: Game Tips, Final Results, Payout Details

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I just completed a weight-loss challenge at DietBet.com, where I bet my own hard-earned cash that I could lose 10% of my body weight within 6 months. More specifically, a group of folks (strangers or friends) agreed on a weight loss goal, put money into a community pot, and the winners split the pot. My final results were pretty surprising to me – I ended up losing over 20% of my original weight and nearly doubled the money that I put at risk. Here’s a look back at how the process worked along with some helpful tips and detailed numbers.

Game basics. You pick from a list of available “games” that are starting soon. All of them have a goal of either losing 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks (Kickstarter), or 10% in 6 months (Transformer). I chose the 10% goal and joined The Transformer (Feb 5 – Aug 4), mostly because there were over 1,000 participants and I figured there had to be some people that would drop out. A selfish move, but Dietbet uses the poker rake model where the winners take money from the losers. This is smart because Dietbet doesn’t risk any of its own money (also doesn’t have any incentive for you to lose).

Weigh-in rules and tips. Your weight is verified each round by uploading two pictures: one with your feet on a digital scale, and another of your entire (lightly-clothed) body on the same scale. You are given a special keyword to ensure that the weigh-in is done during a 48-hour window. Here are my tips:

  1. Use the smartphone app. Having the smartphone app made it so much easier to snap the pictures and upload with a few taps. iOS and Android only.
  2. Check the dates with your work schedule. During one of my weigh-ins, I was on the road. Dietbet says digital scales are “preferred” but the only thing at my hotel’s gym was a non-digital balance scale. My submission was still accepted. If my hotel gym didn’t have a scale at all, I would have had to search for a Wal-Mart or something.
  3. Know the rules and give yourself time for rejections. One of my submissions was initially rejected because I was wearing running shoes (in that same hotel gym) and I forgot that shoes aren’t allowed in the pictures. You only get a 12-hour grace period after a rejection to re-submit a qualifying weigh-in.

Overall, I felt that Dietbet was fair and quick when judging my weigh-in pictures. You may also be “audited” and be required to submit a video verification. I did not get audited.

Money details. The bet amounts can vary by game, but mine was for $25 a month times 6 months. I was offered one month free ($25 discount) if I paid $125 upfront, but since this is all about the behavioral component for me, I wanted the monthly charge to show up on my credit card bill. Players who have chosen to place their bets on a monthly basis may drop out at any time and avoid being charged for future, unplayed rounds.

There is one round per month; Rounds 1 to 6. Half of the total money bet is put towards Round 1 through 5. That is $25 x 6 / 2 = $75, split across 5 rounds is $15 per round. The other half is put toward the final weigh-in round. So $75 is bet on Round 6. Here’s a screenshot that shows my actual winnings from each round:

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  • Round 1 Breakdown: $16.09 (7% ROI on $15 bet)
  • Round 2 Breakdown: $26.94 (80% ROI)
  • Round 3 Breakdown: $31.36 (109% ROI)
  • Round 4 Breakdown: $31.50 (110% ROI)
  • Round 5 Breakdown: $30.42 (103% ROI)
  • Round 6 Breakdown: $152.87 (104% ROI)

I ended up winning $289.19, for a net win of $139.18. That’s a solid 93% return on my $150 initial bet! According to their documentation, the average “win” is 50% to 100% of your contribution. I would venture to guess that the 6-month games have a higher overall payout due to a higher difficulty level.

As noted above, Dietbet makes their money by taking a cut of the gross pot before distribution, between 10% to 25%. In a previous post, I erroneously assumed that the numbers being reported above were before fees were taken out. The numbers are actually net of fees. (You are always guaranteed never to lose money if you win, which otherwise technically could happen if enough people win.)

Your winnings can be withdrawn either via PayPal or paper check, but you have to pay a $5 fee and make special request for a paper check. When withdrawing via PayPal, you won’t pay any fees, and I was sent my money within a hour. Here’s screenshot proof of my winnings payout showing no fees.

Don’t overlook this part! When signing up for a challenge, Dietbet will automatically add $20 of “Official Weigh-in Tokens” to your cart. These are not mandatory. I think using the word “Official” is misleading. They should use “Optional” or “Additional” instead. You should treat them as extra raffle tickets for prizes like Fitbits and such. If you want that, fine, but otherwise be sure to remove them.

Cheating. I’m sure there are ways to try and cheat at these Dietbet games, despite their various anti-fraud protocols. But for one thing, I now know that if you really lose 10% of your body weight, your body will look entirely different and that is hard to fake. In addition, I think that for most people, losing the weight is worth much more than winning the money. The community board for my challenge was 100% positive in supporting other people towards their weight-loss goals.

Final thoughts. Loss aversion is quite a strange thing. Even though 25 bucks a month isn’t all that much money, the prospect of losing it was a powerful motivator. Powerful enough to get me back in the same pants size and weight as 19-year-old me. But winning 150 bucks? I’ll probably forget about it in a few weeks. An additional motivator was the fact that I told people about the challenge and didn’t want to admit publicly to failure.

While Dietbet was not there to cook my healthy meals, exercise for me, or keep me away from the late-night Doritos, it was the missing catalyst that I needed to get my health back on track. For other people this might be a heart attack or other medical issue. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait for something like that.

But remember, diets don’t work. That is, if you do something special to lose that 4% or 10%, and then stop doing that something special, you’ll eventually just gain the weight back. Instead of gimmicks, you should focus on long-term changes that you can maintain for the rest of your life. I personally use portion control and moderation in place of strict rules.

In the end, Dietbet does a good job of using loss aversion as a motivational tool. The rules are clear, the app is easy to use, and the monthly check-ins are a good frequency. Even if I “lost” the challenge but also lost 5% of my body weight, that is still something. Most importantly, you get the feeling that everyone including Dietbet wants you to succeed. I am still in an ongoing 9-month challenge at a similar site called Healthywage, but so far I would recommend Dietbet over Healthwage – the financial reward ended up being higher at Dietbet, for starters.

I was hoping to never need another Dietbet challenge again, but they just announced a beta test of a new challenge type called a “Maintainer” where you just have to maintain your weight-loss. Intriguing!

Comments

  1. Congrats on getting back into shape. Hopefully you use the winnings to buy some new clothes since I’m sure you’ll need some with a 20% weight reduction.

  2. How does the number of winners go up from round 4-5-6? If you lose a round, are you still eligible to keep paying & playing, if you think you will make the next milestone?

    The goals listed do not appear to be linearly distributed. Do you think that this helped or hurt when trying to achieve the goals?

    • Yes, you can lose a round and still be eligible to win the future rounds. The last goal is the big one.

    • To answer your 2nd question, for me the hardest goal to make was actually the first round of losing 3% in the first month. Every subsequent month, my gap was greater and towards the end I didn’t have to stress at all because I knew I could “make weight”.

      So I think it’s good that half the money is weighted toward the “final exam”. As long as you reach your goal, that’s what is most important. The other rounds are like homework to help enforce some discipline and keep you on track.

  3. I tried a kickstarter campaign after reading about DietBet on your site.

    I put up $100, lost 4% in 4 weeks and was paid $129. ($29 profit).
    Payout via Paypal was immediate.

    Our “win” rate (people losing weight) was 62% of players. Typically, the moderator said closer to 70% of players win which would lower the payout a bit.

    It was fairly asymmetrical risk to win $29 while risking $100, but the aversion to losing $100 was certainly a powerful motivator to reach my goal.

  4. Sounds fun and healthy. Do they (HealthyWage, Transformer) accept credit cards, and what is the most you can “bet”, pay, or invest? $2,000? Any limits? How is DietBit and HealthyWage categorized by the credit cards? (Health fitness, other services, online service, spa, hotel, entertainment, gaming)? Also, if you make money, will they send you a 1099G, 1099misc or other form(s)?

    • Yes they both work with credit cards. Max bets vary by site. Not sure about categorization. Yes to 1099-MISC from HealthyWage if gross payout is $600+ in calendar year. Otherwise, no 1099 from Healthywage. Not sure about Dietbet offhand.

  5. Janet Portillo says:

    Never again!! I bet $100 and the pot was $36,900. After working hard for a month to meet my goal, I won a measly $13. It was pathetic. This app takes advantage of the players. They made out with $7,380?! Yeah, they rape you with their fees. My Game was Bet Big, Win Big…what a crock. More like Bet Big, Win Pennies!!!

    • Keep in mind that the more money people have on the line, the more likely they are to stay on track. Which is great to stay on track, but pay outs will be less. It’s often better to sign up for several smaller dietbets at the same time. When other people risk less money they’re often sloppier about their weight loss habits.

  6. How long after the game ended could you get paid?

  7. Daev Brown says:

    This site is a pyramid scheme. Stakes are different for every game, but one of the ones I joined for example has a $30 buy in and they say that everyone who hits their weight goal splits the pot. What they only mention in the fine print is that they take a 25% cut! So theres $127,170 in the pot from 4,239 players and 50% hit their goal. So each of us players in the winning 50% wins $15! Awesome! What is the websites cut? $31,792! I could see maybe a 5% cut for administering the website, but 25%?? These guys are making a KILLING!

    • I don’t think you understand how a pyramid scheme works. Yes they take a cut, but they also provide a service.

      • Daev Brown says:

        pyramid scheme was intentionally exaggerated wording. I understand they provide a service. I think that $30k plus per “game” to simply facilitate people’s credit card payments, when those people only stand to win a few bucks is not a legitimate model. To each their own, I am simply speaking out and trying to make sure people know how high the “service fee” is since it is only a small link in their rules.

        • There’s a difference between “exaggeration” and wrongly accusing someone of a criminal act. See Ryan Lochte.

          If their profits are truly too big and too easy to get, then a competitor will come along shortly with a lower profit margin.

        • Janet Samuel says:

          I just started playing so I do see that hey exaggerate to get you to play but the whole point is motivation to help you get healthier and lose weight, if you don’t like their policy, simply don’t play.

        • They also have to monitor every weigh-in to make sure people aren’t cheating, maintain the website, and they employ people to do these things. So, they are making a profit but also paying their overhead. I think the fact that you are guaranteed your money back if you lose weight is nice. Personally, the money is a motivator but losing the weight is the real goal.

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