A Wimpy Squares Cost Analysis
I've been running the Wimpy Squares pool for 12 years now (2019 is the 13th year) and I've been pleased with its popularity. Although I'd "borrowed" the basic idea from someone else, (he charged $50 for every square) I thought I could improve on it by charging less for the (perceived) lesser popular combinations, along with a premium for the numbers that everyone seemed to want. This seemed to work pretty well, however it was still more 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 12) years of data. Which squares were really better, and which ones were poor investments? So far, I've limited my focus to final point spreads. That is to say, I'm making the assumption that a final score of 54-50 is no more likely than a final score of 55-51. All 4 point differentials are lumped together. While the data exists on the site if you want to attempt to break it down by specific combinations, I feel this point differential analysis yields some fascinating conclusions.
Let's look at the results. The gray shaded cells show which differential won the grand prize $1000 for that year. 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 12 years, winning the grand prize clearly raises the expected value of that point spread about $7.30 The __ cells show the return without the grand prize factored in. To put this number in perspective, you should assume that the squares each cost $10 less.
For the first 6 years, the 6-point spreads had performed terribly. Then they hit the big jackpot two years in a row. The 9 point spreads haven't been much better, paying back less than $24 per square if you don't count the grand prize in 2007. In 2013, there was only ONE 9 pt winner, and it was only for $25. The 4 point spreads started as one of the more expensive squares, yet had performed horribly. I dropped the price in 2016. The last 3 years, they have been big winners, and I've raised their cost accordingly.
On the opposite end, the 2 point differentials have been the huge winners, winning back well over $50 per square, even without factoring in TWO jackpot hits. Their actual return has been over $70 per square! They underperformed in both 2015 and 2016, bringing the total down from their high of $80 per square! The 1 point differentials at a little over $50 had also been big winners, despite never winning the big jackpot.
I acknowledge that 12 years of data is probably has little statistical relevance, but I don't think it should be ignored either. Based on the numbers, I have continued to revamp the costs of the squares.
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.
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.
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