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Playing the Football Pools
Winning football pool is a lovely idea! But perhaps as pie-in-the-sky as winning the National Lottery (the odds of the winner picking 6 numbers are 14 million to 1)?
It is possible to win football pool regularly. Of course, the National Lottery is just that – a lucky dip, completely random (lottery machinery works as it should). The result of football pool is not completely random and the odds can work in your favor. However, to win fairly regularly, you need to invest time and money, and most importantly, you must persevere.
If you live in the UK and are old enough, you may remember Horace Batchelor’s adverts on Radio Luxembourg in the sixties and his “infra-draw” method. Basically, he split all the possible outcomes of the weekend’s matches and each punter had a specific set of match picks. With enough punters, one was likely to have a good set of picks. So, you’ve tried horses, you’ve tried online poker, maybe you’ve tried the stock market. You know the disadvantages:
– The horse’s performance is held back until that special occasion when they suddenly have a miraculous win – wonder if this is the one occasion you didn’t back the horse! Some people make good money, but they usually have insider knowledge and steady contacts.
– Online poker requires good memory, steady nerves and high skill, and sometimes you are playing against users who use computers to look at cards and calculate odds. In fact, it’s probably the best way to make money ‘gambling’ if you’ve got the brains for it!
– Stock Market – Well, if you have patience and can find a bargain, a fortune can be made. Still, insider knowledge is important (yes whatever the government says is still insider trading), and you’re betting against a large number of computers and the best brains in the world. And they get it massively wrong too!
Remember, every investment is a gamble and involves some degree of risk – even buying a home. See how sub-prime mortgages bailed everyone out – the risks weren’t properly assessed. The key is the level of risk involved. And remember, risk is just another way of citing probability. After all, you know there are people who can make a steady income from betting on horses, playing poker (but not roulette), bridge and the stock market. It’s about details and odds, and in the case of poker and bridge, a high level of skill.
So, what’s the secret?
No big secret, it’s really obvious. Special plans and permits are very good and detailed knowledge of football can be helpful. Well, that’s great if you’re a football fan, but it doesn’t help much if you can’t make the right choices to begin with. The important thing is to stand back and look at the numbers. Emotional investment affects this problem. You have to be a detached observer, but football fans are usually very passionate.
With 49 matches on a pool coupon, the number of lines required to cover all 49 matches (a line is 8 picks) – ‘full perm 8 from 49’ – requires an entry of 451 million lines. At a price of 1p per line, this would come to a stake of GBP4.5 million pounds – and there might not even be 8 draws that week, or 15 draws with a prize pool of hundreds of winners! Hence, it is prohibited and does not make economic sense even if the pool companies allow it. They might take a bet though!
So, I’m back to those old 1940s numbers words: “Emphasize the positive, eliminate the negative, you’re left with potential draws, and don’t mess with Mr. Between”. (With apologies to Arlen and Mercer, who wrote the original).
So, just find a way to identify the matches that are there least likely There is a draw to be made, and you have potentially drawn games left. You then need to assess the probability of each of these to refine your list of potential draws.
Then, you need to have a betting strategy to cover those potential draws. This is the subject of a later article…
Copyright (c) 2009 Phil Marks
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