A Wimpy Squares Cost Analysis

 I've been running the Wimpy Squares pool for 15 years now (2023 is the 15th year) and I've been pleased with its popularity. Although I'd "borrowed" the idea from someone else, (he charged \$50 for every square) I thought I could improve on it by charging less for the (perceived) less popular squares, while charging a premium for combinations most people wanted. This seemed to work pretty well, however it was still difficult to move the cheaper squares, even with the discount. In 2013, I decided to do a cost analysis of the whole pool, based on 7, (now 15) years of data. Which squares were really better and which ones were poor investments? I've limited my focus to final point spreads. That is to say that a final score of 54-50 is no more nor less likely than a final score of 55-51. All of the 4-point spreads are lumped together.  While the data exists on the site for individual combinations if you want to look that deeply, I feel this differential analysis provides some fascinating information for anyone looking to handicap future contests. Point Differential 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 2007 500 1200 550 350 325 225 275 600 250 625 4900 2008 525 425 650 1225 100 825 275 150 300 425 4900 2009 175 500 125 1275 75 400 550 400 725 675 4900 2010 75 200 225 800 50 275 150 625 1650 850 4900 2011 275 175 675 500 100 150 225 600 1575 625 4900 2012 125 125 1425 375 275 325 725 700 700 125 4900 2013 475 25 175 150 1475 425 700 250 700 525 4900 2014 725 150 175 350 1300 350 450 275 500 625 4900 2015 800 350 175 725 400 1075 300 375 350 350 4900 2016 75 175 200 500 400 800 850 1500 275 125 4900 2017 300 175 100 275 1225 125 775 550 675 700 4900 2018 125 325 50 1200 625 325 700 450 725 375 4900 2019 425 325 1100 325 500 500 450 400 325 550 4900 2021 550 775 300 150 1375 125 325 725 350 225 4900 2022 325 275 275 350 850 775 575 1150 225 100 4900 15 YEAR VALUE \$365.00 \$346.67 \$413.33 \$570.00 \$605.00 \$446.67 \$488.33 \$583.33 \$621.67 \$460.00 4900 Adj. 15 yr value \$365.00 \$280.00 \$280.00 \$370.00 \$338.33 \$380.00 \$488.33 \$450.00 \$488.33 \$460.00 3900 2013 Cost Was 40 44 44 50 50 52 52 56 56 56 500 2014 Cost Was 30 34 47 55 45 52 52 60 65 60 500 2015 Cost Was 35 34 47 52 50 52 52 53 65 60 500 2016 Cost Was 38 35 45 54 50 53 50 53 65 57 500 2017 Cost Was 36 34 45 55 50 54 52 55 64 55 500 2018 Cost Was 36 32 43 54 52 51 54 55 65 58 500 2019 Cost Was 35 32 40 55 53 50 56 56 65 58 500 2021 Cost Was 35 32 43 55 55 50 55 55 64 56 500 2022 Cost Was 36 34 43 54 57 48 54 55 64 55 500 2023 NEW Cost Is 37 34 44 56 60 48 50 57 62 52 500 Let's look at the results.  The gray shaded cells show which differential won the grand prize \$1000 for that year.    To put this number in perspective, you should assume that the squares each cost \$10 less. An award that large will naturally skew the results in favor of that spread.  This is similar to the way that a slot machine may pay back 95% of the money taken in, but if you don't hit the big jackpot, you're going to receive a substantially smaller percentage. After 15 years, you can see that winning the grand prize raises the expected value of each differential by \$6.67. The blue cells show the expected return of that number without the grand prize factored in. To put this number in perspective, you should assume each square costs \$10 less. Point Differential 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Cost/Square \$37.00 \$34.00 \$44.00 \$56.00 \$60.00 \$48.00 \$50.00 \$57.00 \$62.00 \$52.00 \$500.00 15 YEAR VALUE \$36.50 \$34.67 \$41.33 \$57.00 \$60.50 \$44.67 \$48.83 \$58.33 \$62.17 \$46.00 490 Profit/Loss per yr -\$0.50 \$0.67 -\$2.67 \$1.00 \$0.50 -\$3.33 -\$1.17 \$1.33 \$0.17 -\$6.00 -\$10.00 The squares are not randomly priced. They are priced based on a 15 year performance, with differentials that have won the grand prize often being sold at a premium. From year to year, the price of any given differential may go up or down slightly, depending on how well/poorly those combinations have done in recent years.

What happened in 2014...

2014 saw some corrections in the data that were probably due. The underperforming 10 point squares hit it big for \$72.50/square, which was a huge windfall for a few players with 2-2 (\$250) and 3-3 (\$375).  The 10 point squares also have a strong chance to hit the halftime score of the Championship Game for \$300.  Recognizing that with approximately double the chance to win the \$300 halftime final than a 9-pt square, the price of 10 point squares has gone up \$5/square.  Despite hitting only one other game for \$50, (1-5), a 6-point differential (0-4) hit the jackpot for the 2nd year in a row. Two jackpots in 2 years cannot be ignored, and I've increased the cost of 6-point squares by \$5.   There are corresponding cost reductions on the 7 and 3 point differentials. 7 point squares have been reduced \$3 and 3 point squares have been reduced a whopping \$7/square!

What happened in 2015...

The 10 point squares hit it big again, with 1-1 winning a Final Four game for \$300, and then again, hitting the halftime of the Championship Final for another \$300.  As a group, each \$35 10-point square won an average of \$80 each.  This reinforces my observation last year that the added chance of hitting a halftime score in the Final Game makes 10-pt differential square a better investment than a 9-pt differential square.  I've raised the price of 10-pt squares \$3.  After a strong year, I've also raised the prices of  of the 5, 7, and 9 point spreads.  After a disappointing year, I've lowered the prices of the 1, 4, and 8 point spreads.

Historically, the higher pricing will do little to deter people from selecting the 1 and 2 point spreads. My goal is to make the other combinations attractive by competitive pricing. I am expecting continued higher interest in the 9 and 10 point squares. I also expect that despite underperforming for 3 straight years, the 3 point squares at \$53 will remain popular.

What happened in 2016...

The 10 point squares bottomed out, winning only 3 \$25 games. They still offer strong chances to win the halftime of the final game, thus cost a bit more than the 9 point squares.  I've lowered the price of 10-pt squares \$2, and the 9-pt squares \$1. After a strong year, I've also raised the prices of  of the 3, 4, and 5 point spreads.  I've raised the price of the 7-pt squares after a moderate return in 2016 to reflect their strong performance over the last 10 years.  Finally, I've slightly lowered the prices of the 1 and 2 pt squares, after both underperformed 2 years in a row.

What happened in 2017...

The 1 and 2 point combinations continued to be consistent winners. The 5, 8, and 9 point squares had terrible returns, and the 7's weren't much better. The 7-point squares still have a relatively high cost because they remain one of the three columns to have won the Championship game more than once over the last decade. I reduced the price on all of them.  The 6-point squares hit the jackpot for the third time in 2017.  They haven't earned much when they don't hit that final game, a small increase in price seemed appropriate. The 4-point squares came in strong for the second year in a row. I raised the price on the 4 most profitable columns from 2017.  At \$36 and \$32 respectively, the 10 and 9 point squares offer tremendous value if they should happen to hit even once for \$25.

What happened in 2018...

The 10 point squares had a rough year, hitting only 4 times, and for very small amounts. The 9 point squares hit only twice, but one of them was a \$300 halftime final which brought up the average. They are still by far the cheapest square on the board, and the 10 point squares have been dropped another dollar. The worst performers by a wide margin were the 8 point squares which only hit twice for the bare minimum. These may be a bargain however at their new \$40 price tag. 6 and 7 point squares continue to hit sporadically but often for big payouts. I've raised the price of each a dollar. After disappointing back-to-back seasons, I've lowered the 5 point squares \$1. The 4 point squares have been huge winners for the last 3 years, and the \$2 raise reflects it. I raised the price of the 3 point squares \$1, because they have historically outperformed the 4 point squares, and I didn't think that they should be cheaper.

What happened in 2019...

The 10 point squares had another terrific year, outperforming several more expensive combinations. The 2, 7, and 9 point squares all had a down year. The 8 point squares hit the jackpot, and I've boosted their price by \$3. I also raised the price of the 6-pt squares by \$2 to basically bring them into line with the 3, 4, and 7 point differentials. I lowered the cost of the 1-pt differentials by \$2, but they are still the 2nd highest priced square on the board. I also lowered the expensive 2, 3, and 4 point squares by \$1 each.

Pretty much everything you need to know is posted here, or elsewhere on the site. Perhaps you can spot a bargain amongst the clusters of data.  Did I raise some combinations too much?  If so, then there is value somewhere else.  Find the diamond in the rough, and you can cash in.

What happened in 2021...

There was no tournament in 2020. The 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7 point squares underperformed terribly. A large number of games were not close, and the cheaper squares often proved to be bargains. Despite two straight years of poor results for the two point spreads, the demand for them remains high and I've elected to keep their price on the top of the board at \$64. The one and four point spreads took a beating, and I've reduced their costs by \$1. I've similarly reduced the prices for 5 and 7 point spreads, both of which had an abysmal year. The 6-point squares won the jackpot for the 4th time in 14 years, and have been appropriately bumped \$2. I've also raised the prices of the 9 and 10 point squares, which is probably overdue.

What happened in 2022...

Once again, the 1, and 2 point squares had a historically poor year, each winning less in 2022 than has ever happened in 15 years. The 3-point squares didn't fare much better except that they hit the jackpot prize in the final game. The 4, 5, and 6 point spreads had banner years, and experienced healthy profits not winning the big money.  The 6-point squares did better than any of them, winning on average 57% over cost. Factoring in that the 6 point spreads have won the big money more often than any other spread, their cost has increased the most, from \$57 to \$60 per square. The 3-pt and 7-pt spreads have been raised \$2 to bring them more in line with their profitability over the last several years. In 2015, the 1-pt spreads were selling for a high of \$60/square. After 7 seasons of mostly lackluster returns, I have dropped them to \$52/square. The 2-pt spreads have been dropped from \$64/square to \$62. The 8-pt and 10-pt squares have both gone up \$1, while the 4-pt differentials (having never won the big money) have dropped a massive \$4/square becoming possibly the best bargain on the board at \$50/square.