School-Safe Puzzle Games

Simple puzzle will confuse all but the accountants

missing dollar brain teaser
This is a famous brain teaser which supposedly first appeared in R. M. Abraham’s Diversions and Pastimes in 1933. The version below was taken from

Three ladies go to a restaurant for a meal. They receive a bill for $30. They each put $10 on the table, which the waiter collects and takes to the till. The cashier informs the waiter that the bill should only have been for $25 and returns $5 to the waiter in $1 coins. On the way back to the table the waiter realizes that he cannot divide the coins equally between the ladies. As they didn’t know the total of the revised bill, he decides to put $2 in his own pocket and give each of the ladies $1.

Now that each lady has been given a dollar back, each of the ladies has paid $9. Three times 9 is 27. The waiter has $2 in his pocket. Two plus 27 is $29. The ladies originally handed over $30. Where is the missing dollar?

I’ve seen lots of longwinded explanations for this puzzle; can anyone post concisely what really happened to the missing dollar?


51 Comments to “Simple puzzle will confuse all but the accountants”

  1. moorski | Profile

    Best way to look at it is. While the bill cost 25, there was a “tip” to the waiter for 2. So the bill totaled 27. Each woman paid $9. 9 x 3 = 27. 25 (meal) + 2 (tip) = 27

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