It’s that time of year: your officemate is collecting money for Super Bowl boxes. You know, those things where you pay somewhere between $5 to $20 to put your name in a blank box which will eventually have two numbers attached to it. At the end of each quarter, the last number of each team’s score is taken and someone wins. The great thing about these things are that they require absolutely no skill, ie. non-fans are just as good at is as the guy who watches 3 games simultaneously every Sunday and is in 4 fantasy leagues. When you fill in the box, there’s no way of knowing which numbers you are going to get.
You get your numbers and hope for the best. Nonetheless, if you know the first thing about football, with a 2-5, you know you’re sort of screwed and are going to be resigned to rooting for safeties, missed extra points and teams going for 2 in inappropriate situations. So, what if this were a game of skill, and there were an auction for the numbers. What’s the most valuable box?
There are 3 factors that matter and can be easily dealt with:
- The historical odds of a team landing on a given score
- The over under of the current game
- The payout schedule of the boxes
For historical odds, I used the those provided on some guy’s blog (section Breaking It Down Even More: Quarter by Quarter).
I didn’t want to spend the time pulling the data myself, though would’ve used more than 6 years had I done so . Addressing the second point, if the average game has an over under of 45, this 6 years of data represents an average. With a game like this, I tweaked the odds by quarter to make the less likely scores more likely, especially in the later quarters. Here is my new distribution.
This was a sort of crude metric and next year, I’ll query the data myself and bucket it by over under to avoid making these generalizations. Lastly we need to assume some sort of payout schedule. Let’s say we have $10 boxes and the payouts are $150, $200, $150, $500, rounded to the nearest dollar, here’s what each box is worth:
The unexciting 0 – 0 is the best box! While it’s value from the actual score being 0 – 0 after the first quarter is virtually nil, 10 – 0, 10 – 10, 20 – 10, 20 – 20, and to a lesser degree scores with a 30 in them have decent odds. Enjoy and remember no matter how bad your #s are, there’s always a chance.
There’s a fourth factor that adds too much complexity to easily analyze. Can you guess what it is?
This article first appeared in livingwithballs.com.