In the teaser for the season 1 episode "Skin of Evil", Yar and Worf are discussing a martial arts competition.

Worf mentions that Yar is well favoured in the "ship's pool". Yar then asks "you bet on me?", and Worf replied "a sure thing".

But since the Federation is post-scarcity, and Starfleet officers aren't paid, what do they have to offer in a wager?

  • 6
    There are many things that are still scarce on the Enterprise, notably shift rotas and holodeck time.
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2022 at 8:06
  • 3
    The same thing they gamble with on poker nights.
    – GordonD
    Apr 25, 2022 at 8:28
  • Gambling with chips that go back in the box at the end of the night is not quite the same thing.
    – HorusKol
    Apr 25, 2022 at 8:29
  • 2
    @Valorum the accepted answer there is bragging rights - which makes sense for poker since its your victory. But it makes less sense in the context of being on someone else in a competition.
    – HorusKol
    Apr 25, 2022 at 8:56
  • 1
    @AncientSwordRage - No, but the answer is going to be pretty much identical to my answer to that one.
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2022 at 10:05

2 Answers 2


His mood.

The accepted answer to this question already provides some insights into how Poker usually works in the Star Trek universe.

But what about bets?

There is not much more to learn about gambling and betting in the Star Trek universe that hasn't been covered in the other question already. It seems that there is a line between betting for fun and betting for profit: In VOY: Endgame, Janeway joins the ship's pool in betting when Torres's baby will be born. Yet, in VOY: Meld, she is (ostensibly) disappointed about Tom starting a betting system that involves actual things of value: Food Rations.

The only thing to fall back to is what Worf specifically mentions will happen if he loses a bet:

PULASKI: Against an opponent of approximate skill, Strategema can last well over one thousand moves.
LAFORGE: I wouldn't bet on us being here that long.
WORF: I have wagered heavily in the ship's pool that you will take him past the sixth plateau.
RIKER: And if I don't?
WORF: I will be irritated.

(TNG: Peak Performance)

Given everything else we know, this will be the only consequence of him losing his bet.

  • 1
    I think you've misunderstood. If Worf loses, he'll be irritated at losing his bet (and the implication is that Riker will feel the brunt of his irritation). It's a humourously veiled threat against Riker.
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2022 at 15:03
  • I don't understand your comment - what else would he be irritated by, if not losing his bet?
    – Philipp
    Apr 25, 2022 at 15:21
  • He's saying to Riker that he'll be irritated if he loses his bet (and implying that he'll beat Riker to a pulp if he loses).
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2022 at 15:23
  • Yep, that is pretty much what I understood as well. There is really not much more to find anywhere.
    – Philipp
    Apr 25, 2022 at 15:45

Short answer: he is betting money. Specifically, the Federation Credit.

The Star Trek franchise has been running for decades, there are hundreds of episodes written by scores of writers. There are a huge number of inconsistencies from one episode to the next. Concepts that are introduced in one episode are frequently changed, ignored of forgotten about in another. A lot depends on the plot requirements of a particular story.

The makers of the show have never worked out a detailed and consistent plan of how the future economy works. Not surprising, really. That would be almost impossible. The details of the future economy are left vague, and any details given change from episode to episode.

In The Neutral Zone Picard tells the revived rich guy that money no longer exists. That was a detail necessary for that particular story. Other stories explicitly contradict this. There are many stories where people are buying things for money, or losing money on business. All the poker scenes indicate that they are risking something valuable. For every statement that the federation doesn't use money, there are at least twenty explicit examples of using money. Worf's reference to a betting pool is one of these.

It is a post scarcity society, and everyone has sufficient to live on. That doesn't mean that everything is free.

Where was it ever said that Starfleet officers aren't paid?

  • 3
    Do you have something to back up he was betting money and not shifts or some other resource?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Apr 25, 2022 at 11:28
  • Do you have any reason to think he wasn't?
    – Pete
    Apr 25, 2022 at 11:30
  • 1
    @Pete - Because it's repeatedly stated that they don't use money.
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2022 at 11:35
  • You might also want to note that by the time of TNG, the Credit is a unit of international currency (e.g. for the Federation to trade with external bodies like the Ferengi)
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2022 at 11:36
  • 1
    @Pete - If you can demonstrate a single time where that's the case, I'll eat my hat
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2022 at 13:33

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