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Football Pools – Some Basic Elements in a Strategy to Optimise Your Chances

The results on a particular football pools coupon/match number are random, but on individual matches where teams strengths are measured and compared, under circumstances which I will identify, they are non-random.

Let’s compare the Pools with Roulette. Many would see Roulette as a random gambling game. Of course it isn’t, at least from the point of view of the casino. The ‘House’ – that is, the casino – has an edge. In Europe, that edge is 2.70%, set by law, but that’s all that’s required in the long run to ensure that the House makes a profit.

So, the fundamental approach to winning at the football pools is to make sure you have and edge – that is, the odds of winning are biased slightly in your favour from evens.

Generally football teams play broadly to form, though not all results are in line with form, which is what makes it work for the football pools companies.I contend that it is possible to identify a strategy which optimises the odds of a win.

Of course, to win the ‘jackpot’ on British football pools – absolute maximum prize – you have to have 8 draws in a line and there should be only 8 draws on the coupon, and, of course, you should be the only one with that line that week. The singapore pools odds on that are very long – just selecting 8 draws from 16 matches has odds of 451 million to 1.

So, what are the basic elements in a strategy to improve one’s odds of a win?

One element is the way in which the entry is placed. Specific plans and perms are important. These are the ways of entering multiple lines on the weekly entry, offering differing levels of ‘coverage’ and ‘guarantee’, which has to be measured against your budget and attitude to risk. This is a whole sub-genre in its own right, with many adherents to both causes, and many arguments too. Strong cases on each side – and that usually means that the difference is marginal, with plans offering specific and limited guarantees and full perms offering 100% guarantee (provided you have of course selected 8 score draws in your entry) but fewer matches covered for a given budget.

Just as the House has a long run edge in Roulette, it is important to see winning the football pools as a potential long run opportunity. This leads to the need to persevere. The one week you didn’t do them could have been the week you won. You have to persist. A ‘percentage’ approach is essential. So, perseverance is a second element in the strategy.

Finally, one of Sun Tzu’s guidelines, in essence, was to always fight on the territory you have chosen. If we think about our analogy with the casino, then would the casino open the roulette table on a night when it’s statistical edge was absent?

Probably not, though they might see it in a long-run context and about keeping their clients happy. After all, big wins are good for their marketing even though they are not good for their profits.

So, to optimise your long run edge on the pools, don’t squander your stake on competitions where there is a lower probability of teams playing to form, for example the FA Cup (to take a British example). Unless, of course, you want to do it for fun! After all, many punters play roulette just for fun, and don’t seriously expect to win. This is another key element in the strategy.

Finally, I alluded to form in the first paragraph. This is the final piece in the strategic jigsaw. Identify a way of measuring teams’ playing form. You are then in a position to compare form ratings on a match by match basis and rule out the obviously one-sided matches. This is the most significant factor in the strategy.

Therefore, in summary, some basic elements of a strategy to optimise your chances boil down to:

1. Use plans or perms which maximise your selection coverage, within your budget.

2. Take a long run view and persevere.

3. Be selective about which weeks you play the pools, so as to maximise the probability that teams will play to form.

4. Use a selection approach which measures team performance and in comparison enables you to eliminate obviously one-sided matches or games.

These are the four main elements in a strategy to optimise the odds in your favour.