These are the best and worst Super Bowl squares
You have your square. Now you're wondering, am I going to win?
Even if you don’t win in your Super Bowl square pool, you’re contributing to breaking a record.
The American Gaming Association expects Americans to wager a record $6.8 billion on the Super Bowl LIV matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. The number of states that allow sports betting has grown to 19, allowing fans to legally place wagers on everything from the outcome of Super Bowl LIV to whether Alex Rodriguez will make an appearance at halftime.
One of the most popular games, which will be played at Super Bowl parties across the country while the teams battle it out in Miami, is “squares.”
Squares is played on a 10 by 10 grid, with the numbers zero through nine labeled on the first row and column. Bettors are randomly assigned a square until all the squares are filled (some forms of the game let players choose their square). One axis of the grid represents the last digit of the home team’s score, and the other axis represents the last digit of the away team’s score.
At the end of each quarter, the winner is the player who owns the square where the 49ers’ last digit intersects the Chiefs’ last digit. For example, if the score at the end of the third quarter is 23-20 49ers, the winning square is (49ers 3, Chiefs 0). Most Squares pools will pay out at the end of each quarter, or for every score change, to give players more chances to win.
So you have your square. Now you’re wondering, am I going to win?
Many statisticians have taken up the challenge of finding out which square has the best odds. In 2015, FiveThirtyEight calculated the projected payout for each square, based on data from 10 NFL seasons. The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective calculated the same projected payout in 2013, but used 32 years of playoff data and factored in the difference between a favored team and an underdog. Last year, Eldo.co examined the final score probabilities for Super Bowl LII, taking into account the weird scores that have become more common as the NFL moved the extra-point kick back 13 yards.
Ultimately, the best squares are the ones you’d expect. The most likely combinations involve zero, three, four, and seven. FiveThirtyEight found that the (0,0) square pays out an astounding $19.70 on a $1 bet after the first quarter, and stays an above-average combination throughout the game. The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective says that (7,0) or (0,7) is your best bet for the final score, especially if you have the favorite as the seven and the underdog as the zero. Next Sunday, the Patriots are favored by 2 points.
The worst squares, according to all three sources, are the combinations that include two, five, or nine. For a team to end up with that score, they would probably need a two-point conversion or a safety.
Zero, zero: Great.
Any combination of zero, three, four, or seven: Good.
Two, five, nine: Hope you had access to A-Rod’s calendar.