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Friday
Feb012013

What’s My Super Bowl Pool Box Worth?

A bit of fun for this Super Bowl weekend. If you’re unfamiliar with a Super Bowl pool, the basics are simple:

Draw a 10 x 10 grid. One axis represents the AFC team, the other represents the NFC team. Participants pay a fixed amount for each of the 100 boxes. A payoff is set for each quarter of the game. Each row of the grid is randomly assigned a digit from 0-9, and likewise for each column of the grid. At the end of each quarter of the game, the final digit of each team’s score is used to determine the winning box for that quarter, and the owner of that box gets the loot.

The interesting question for box owners after the box numbers are assigned is: How much am I likely to win with these numbers? Moreover, if you’d entered the same pool every year since the Super Bowl began (ie. a pool with the same per-quarter payoffs), and happened to get the same numbers every year, how much would you have won in total? Obviously this is a contrived scenario, but an analysis of the history of Super Bowl scores makes for some interesting observations.

The nature of the scoring system in American Football is obviously the biggest factor in determining the “value” of a box: 3 (field goal) & 7 (touchdown + extra point), and their multiples, 6, 9, 4 and 1 seem likely to be winners. Also, the person who owns the 0-0 box stands to potentially win the entire pot before a ball is kicked or thrown, if two lousy offenses can’t score, or if the scoring goes in sets of touchdown, extra point, field goal. But if you think you have good numbers, a safety or a missed extra point are likely to ruin your day.

So, how much is my box worth in the above scenario?

// Per-quarter points scored for every superbowl - AFC,NFC
let quarterPoints = [
    ([ 0;10; 0; 0],[ 7; 7;14; 7]);
    ([ 0; 7; 0; 7],[ 3;13;10; 7]);
    ([ 0; 7; 6; 3],[ 0; 0; 0; 7]);
    ([ 3;13; 7; 0],[ 0; 0; 7; 0]);
    ([ 0; 6; 0;10],[ 3;10; 0; 0]);
    ([ 0; 3; 0; 0],[ 3; 7; 7; 7]);
    ([ 7; 7; 0; 0],[ 0; 0; 0; 7]);
    ([14; 3; 7; 0],[ 0; 0; 0; 7]);
    ([ 0; 2; 7; 7],[ 0; 0; 0; 6]);
    ([ 7; 0; 0;14],[ 7; 3; 0; 7]);
    ([ 0;16; 3;13],[ 0; 0; 7; 7]);
    ([ 0; 0;10; 0],[10; 3; 7; 7]);
    ([ 7;14; 0;14],[ 7; 7; 3;14]);
    ([ 3; 7; 7;14],[ 7; 6; 6; 0]);
    ([14; 0;10; 3],[ 0; 3; 0; 7]);
    ([ 0; 0; 7;14],[ 7;13; 0; 6]);
    ([ 7;10; 0; 0],[ 0;10; 3;14]);
    ([ 7;14;14; 3],[ 0; 3; 6; 0]);
    ([10; 6; 0; 0],[ 7;21;10; 0]);
    ([ 3; 0; 0; 7],[13;10;21; 2]);
    ([10; 0; 0;10],[ 7; 2;17;13]);
    ([10; 0; 0; 0],[ 0;35; 0; 7]);
    ([ 0; 3;10; 3],[ 3; 0; 3;14]);
    ([ 3; 0; 7; 0],[13;14;14;14]);
    ([ 3; 9; 0; 7],[ 3; 7; 7; 3]);
    ([ 0; 0;10;14],[ 0;17;14; 6]);
    ([ 7; 3; 7; 0],[14;14; 3;21]);
    ([ 3;10; 0; 0],[ 6; 0;14;10]);
    ([ 7; 3; 8; 8],[14;14;14; 7]);
    ([ 0; 7; 0;10],[10; 3; 7; 7]);
    ([14; 0; 7; 0],[10;17; 8; 0]);
    ([ 7;10; 7; 7],[ 7; 7; 3; 7]);
    ([ 7;10; 0;17],[ 3; 3; 0;13]);
    ([ 0; 0; 6;10],[ 3; 6; 7; 7]);
    ([ 7; 3;14;10],[ 0; 0; 7; 0]);
    ([ 0;14; 3; 3],[ 3; 0; 0;14]);
    ([ 3; 0; 6;12],[ 3;17;14;14]);
    ([ 0;14; 0;18],[ 0;10; 0;19]);
    ([ 0; 7; 7;10],[ 0; 7; 7; 7]);
    ([ 0; 7; 7; 7],[ 3; 0; 7; 0]);
    ([ 6;10; 6; 7],[14; 0; 3; 0]);
    ([ 0; 7; 0; 7],[ 3; 0; 0;14]);
    ([ 3;14; 3; 7],[ 0; 7; 0;16]);
    ([10; 0; 7; 0],[ 0; 6;10;15]);
    ([ 0;10; 7; 8],[14; 7; 0;10]);
    ([ 9; 0; 6; 6],[ 0;10; 7; 0]) ]

// Dollars to win at the end of each quarter
let prizes = [| 50; 125; 75; 250 |]

let total points = Seq.scan (fun t p -> t + p) (List.head points) (List.tail points)

let modulo = fun i -> i % 10
let modulos points = Seq.map modulo (total points)
let quarterModulos = Seq.map (fun (afc, nfc) -> modulos afc, modulos nfc) quarterPoints

let payoff : int[,] = Array2D.zeroCreate 10 10

let payQuarter (afc, nfc, prize) = payoff.[nfc,afc] <- payoff.[nfc,afc] + prize
let payGame (afc, nfc) = Seq.iter payQuarter (Seq.zip3 afc nfc prizes)

Seq.iter payGame quarterModulos

payoff

This snippet is also runnable at tryfsharp.org. The results are interesting:

image

43% of the possible outcomes seem to have never occurred in the Super Bowl.

0 and 7 are indeed big winners, and 7 – 4 is by far the most valuable box. However, its reciprocal 4 – 7 is one of the least valuable of the winning boxes.

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