Nabeel’s football numbers

Here’s some advice that might’ve done you some good yesterday: I’m going to tell you how to beat your fellow football party-goers when you play that choose-a-square gambling game. If I’ve already lost you, here’s the story in a nutshell… Most football games are boring. So you have to throw money at losing-odds gambling games to make things remotely interesting. In this particular game, everybody chooses a few boxes from an empty ten-by-ten grid. Each box in the grid corresponds to the last digits of each team’s score. If Seattle wins 7-0, and you own the corner of Seattle 7 and Pittsburgh 0, you win. Got it? (you can always learn more here.)

All that is just a set-up for Nabeel’s excellent analysis of Football Squares betting. Even the most casual observer of the sport quickly recognizes that a 7 is worth more than an 8. How does the smart money really line up? Nabeel tells you all about it here: A Closer Look at Football Squares. His article is worth a read because it’s based on real data and even has some nifty heatmap visualizations. The bottom line is that you actually do want to own the corner of 7 and 0, if you can get it. Of course, the real bottom line is that this advice wouldn’t have helped you much yesterday. The result 1-0, while not rare, is half as common as 7-0. Oh well. Wait till next season!

2 thoughts on “Nabeel’s football numbers”

  1. The last several times I’ve been in one of those super bowl squares bets, they left the numbers blank when you signed up, and then randomized the numbers afterwards.

    I guess there’s still a little bit of a game left to play there .. if you buy six blocks, do you lay them out in a 3×2 grid, or a 1×6 line, or do you put them on the board so that none of them could attack another if they were chess queens, or what exactly do you do .. but thinking in this direction makes my head spin a bit, so I’ll just mention it and move along.


  2. I didn’t mention the randomize idea in my original post, but you’re right, that is the obvious (and recommended) thing to do.

    Only now you’ve got me all excited to see your meta-gaming analysis. I imagine, after a few hours of simulation, you could work out a good 0.078% angle. That’s good money, assuming you’re watching the Arbitrage Bowl.

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