Abstract We experimentally investigate the fundamental element of the level-k model of reasoning, the level-0 actions and beliefs. We use data from a novel experimental design that allows us to obtain incentivised written accounts of individuals' reasoning. In particular, these accounts allow to infer level-0 beliefs. Level-0 beliefs are not significantly different from 50, and almost 60% of higher level players start their reasoning from a level-0 belief of exactly 50. We also estimate that around one third of the participants play non-strategically. The non-strategic level-0 actions are not uniformly distributed.