By far the most popular “office pool” is the Super Bowl Squares Game. In keeping with my article themes of the year, I’ll take those beginners out there through the basics of the game, remind everyone of some simple strategy, and discuss some options for you office pool organizers on how the game can be run.
The reason this game is so successful is that you need absolutely ZERO knowledge of the NFL to win. It’s just so damn simple. A grid of 100 squares is formed on a piece of paper. Ten on the X-axis (horizontal), ten of the Y-axis (vertical). Players “pay” for the rights to own a square. For all you lawyers out there, please keep in mind that this article is for “entertainment” purposes only!
A typical pool is $5 or $10 per square, but believe I’ve heard of $500/square pools out there and even higher! For sake of discussion, lets take a $10/square pool. This pool allots $1000 ($10 per square * 100 squares). The pool is then typically split into 5 sections, one for each quarter and one for the final score. Once the Super Bowl is played, the final score of each quarter is used to determine each winner. You win a portion of the pool if your number matches the ending score of that quarter. So, for instance if the half-time score is 17 (Patriots) -14 (Panthers), then the $200 winner of that quarter would be the owner of the square that intersects the Pats at 7 and the Panthers at 4.
Once all squares are filled in with players names, the numbers are drawn (before the Super Bowl begins!). Typically both Super Bowl teams are written on a piece of paper and placed in a hat. The first name drawn out is written on the horizontal side of the sheet, the other team on the vertical side of the sheet. Then, numbers 0 through 9 are written on pieces of paper and again drawn one at a time out of the hat. Each number is written in the top of the column in the order they are pulled out of the hat. This process is repeated for the other axis.
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To make all your lives easier FantasySharks.com has provided a sample grid for you!! Please note, if you are having trouble seeing the colors when it prints or you are unable to see the fantasysharks.com watermark, then its likely a Windows setting needs to be changed on your computer (damn Microsoft defaults it wrong for people). To get these items to print go into Windows Explorer -> Tools -> Internet Options -> Advanced (tab) -> Go to the area labeled “Printing”, and make sure you have the “Print background colors and images” checked off. Then hit OK. That should help!! Ok, back to the game…
One basic strategy is to not select multiple squares on the same row or column. This is to minimize the chance that all of your picks have the same bad number. A decent player will diagonally write their name on multiple blocks. Also, keep in mind that by far the most popular squares are the four corners. If you want those particular ones get in early!!
The numbers you get can be broken down into 3 categories, Great, So-So (some good-some bad combinations), and just plain Bad. So, in the end you’re looking for two good numbers to increase your chances of winning a prize. Although keep in mind if a 2 point conversion or safety is made during the actual game, the good numbers all of sudden may become bad ones.
Great: 0 (0, 10, 20, 30), 3 (3, 13, 23), 4 (14, 24, 34), 7 (7, 17, 27, 37)
So-So: 1 (11, 21, 31), 6 (6, 16, 26, 36), 9 (9, 19, 29)
Bad: 2 (2, 12, 22, 32), 5 (5, 15, 25, 35), 8 (8, 18, 28, 38)
Some Options to Running the Pool:
Word of Advice:
Pool organizers, one word of advice, NEVER split the pool only by 4ths. There are two advantages to splitting the pools into 5ths. First, if the game goes into overtime someone is out of the money. That stinks. Second, if the game ends in regulation, it’s actually kind of nice that the person who owns the square with the final score of the game gets double the amount of the other squares.
The Prize Pool:
Another prize option for the final score can also be a non-monetary prize. For instance, one year our Super Bowl party was at Doug Coutts’ house and he really didn’t own a TV large enough for the amount of people coming to the party. So, what did we do? We made the final prize a brand new 35″ screen TV! But, as you can guess, that TV was opened and used to watch the Super Bowl! Even Lou, our local bartender was going to be donated a new TV if that square won the big prize (we all chipped in). It was actually pretty economical to do this. Take a $10 pool, you’ve got $1000 to play with. I just checked Circuit City and a 35″ GE TV cost around $600. You could take the first four quarters and give each winner $100. The final score winner takes home a slightly used 35″ TV. How cool is THAT!
The Slant Pool:
One interesting option I’ve participated in is the Slant Pool. This pool involves the numbers actually rotating after each quarter. So, for instance, after each quarter a 2 is added to each number. So in the first quarter you’ve got a 7, a 9 in the second quarter, a 1 in the third and finally a 3 in the fourth (for all of you that aren’t good in math). This avoids the problem with players getting stuck with a 2-8 combination and we all know by now, that square will never be a winner. It’s kind of complicated to run, so you don’t see this type of pool out there all that often (especially with the beverage of choice being consumed by most Super Bowl attendees).
The Experts Pool:
Most of the high ticket pools (greater than $250/square) are run by bars where the person buying the square is invited to a lavish buffet during the game. In addition, these large pools can involve someone winning something every time the score changes (including TDs and PATs separately), with the end of the game score winner taking home whatever is left. If you’re a beginner, this is definitely not the place to begin. Well, unless you’re rich and starving at the same time.
The Beginners Pool:
Lastly, there’s always those folks out there that just aren’t too comfortable with paying out $5 or $10 to win a prize or you just don’t have enough people to fill out all 100 squares. If this is the case, go ahead and start a small pool, say 50 cents or a dollar a square. Believe me, you’ll fill up a 50 cents per square pool in no time at all! And the winner still goes home with $20. Not a bad investment on 50 cents!!