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How Do Football Pools Work? - How Do I Start a Football Pool?
by Max Powers - 01/20/2009

There is a reason that the Super Bowl is the most watched television event each year. It is a day of celebration and family and friends gather around the TV Sunday night regardless of who is playing in the big game. Many people often wonder what draws so many non-football fans to the Super Bowl. Is it the singing, commercials, or star-studded halftime show? Those are all valid reasons but the main reason is still gambling, the hidden secret of the NFL's popularity. Numerous pools, prop bets, straight bets, totals bets, and office square pools make the game much more interesting and allow you to have a stake in the outcome. With all the pools available, one might wonder, "How do Football Pools Work?" or "How do I start a football pool?" Do not worry, as the following paragraphs give you this information and will allow you to be the talk of your town or Super Bowl party.

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The most common football pool is the standard 100 square office pool sheet. To start one of these pools, your best bet is to download one of Doc's 100 Square Sheets (click the above link) and then take it around to all of your friends, family, and acquaintances and try and fill up the 100 squares on the sheet. This can be very time consuming and hard to accomplish depending on the amount you charge per square. If the amount is below $10, often times people will buy more then one square and thus increase their chances of winning. Regardless of the amount each square should sell for the same amount and any square has the same chance of getting any number (0-9). The payouts should be determined before your customers sign-up and most 100 square pools pay both ways each quarter with bigger amounts for the halftime score and the largest cash reward for the final square. This is at the discretion of the person running the pool, as some just pay one way or just on the final, thus creating bigger prizes but less winners. Most people pay the final and not the end of the fourth quarter in case the game would go overtime, so be sure to explain that to those in the field.

Once all the 100 squares are sold on the pool sheet, the numbers need to be drawn. This is usually done with a deck of cards (ace -10) facing upside down. After shuffling them, a person draws them one at a time until all of them are used and repeats the process on the adjacent side of the sheet. It is wise to have witnesses during the drawing to ensure that no foul play is involved and everyone has an equal chance to get any number. Once the numbers are drawn, all the customers can view their numbers and sit back and enjoy the game with an added incentive. Often times the person running the pool will take a cut from the total purse (no more then 10 percent) to cover his expenses.

Since most football scoring occurs in three or seven, those are the best numbers to have and will give you the greatest chance for success. The numbers 2, 5, or 9 are ones to avoid and give you the least probable chance of winning and, thus, you will likely need something unordinary like a safety or missed extra point to happen for you to collect with those numbers. Many pools refund the money to the customers that get 2-2, 5-5, or 9-9 because they have very little chance of winning. Once the score is final, the winning customers can be paid and everyone moves onto the next pool hoping for another big pay day.

This is the most popular type of football pool, but as you know there are many different kinds and many of these involve more skill then luck. A popular type of football pool that has developed over the last couple of years is called a Survivor Pool. In a Survivor Pool contest, also known as an Eliminator Pool or a Suicide Pool, customers pay a flat fee up front and pick either a winner or a loser each week. This usually does not include the point spread and if your team wins/loses you advance to the next week but cannot pick that team again. If you lose you are eliminated and will not be able select in the following week. This is a winner-take-all type of football pool with sole survivor taking the entire pot. This is determined by the person who advances the farthest into the season when everyone else has been eliminated. Be sure to check Doc's Sports homepage for weekly article giving you an edge in the survivor pools.

Are you enjoying this column? Check out Doc's sports wagering advice page. Doc's Independence Bowl preview resource is a must read for college football wagering. Our NCAA football bowl game lines page is also a valuable tool for your college football research. Each of the handicappers listed under "the Advisory board" on the left navagation bar posts free college football picks on their individual pages.

The final pool that we will discuss is another weekly football pool often called, "Pick the Pros." In this type of NFL office pool contestants pick a certain number of games each week, either straight-up or against the spread and their wins and losses are tallied each week with prizes awarded at the end of the season for the highest amount of wins. These types of pools are usually found in sports bars and often times the bar will cover all the prize fees since they expect to increase their business with customers stopping at the establishment each week to fill-out their sheets.

Football is king in America and gambling is a major reason why. Millions of football pools are found all over the country and give consumers an extra incentive to watch the game even if their favorite team is not playing. Doc's Sports is your place for all your football office pool needs and be sure to check back for daily articles.