Author Topic: NCAA Office Pool  (Read 4214 times)

FreeBy45

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NCAA Office Pool
« on: March 21, 2013, 07:47:17 AM »
So weíve got an NCAA bracket challenge going on in my department at work. We can chose to pay $ to play for $$ or not pay and just play for pride.

Of course everyone in my department is playing for money (about 20 people). Iím the only one playing for pride and this information is public. The organizer said there is no pressure to play for $$, however, Iím still getting plenty of comments from other coworkers about it. My mustachian mind is just not programmed to gamble. The way I see it Iíve already won $ by not participating in the pool right?

NumberCruncher

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2013, 08:38:17 AM »
My department has a similar thing, but it's basically all up to chance as opposed to picking individual teams or something.

If you assume everyone has an equal chance of winning, and all the money thrown into the pot goes to the winners, it would actually be a net 0 on average, not negative earnings.

Gambling in general at casinos and whatnot will always on average be a loss for customers, in contrast.

Done by Forty

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2013, 12:17:38 PM »
Yeah, an office pool or gambling among friends are the best odds you'll find.  Assuming you may be slightly better than average at the picks, the math may say it's best to take the gamble.


Russ

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2013, 02:57:22 PM »
If you don't want to, don't do it. Simple as that. If you lose you can laugh it off to your coworkers, "Well good thing I didn't put in any cash!" If you win, you can remind everyone how lucky they are that you aren't taking their money ;)

Either way, whether you choose to bet or not, be confident in your choice and play it off with a smile.

I agree that the odds may not be as bad as Vegas and if you know basketball you have a decent chance, but if you're an average joe it's likely that you don't care nearly enough to do the research to actually try and win. At that point, it's still gambling and you're at a disadvantage compared to the sports junkies. Just because it's net zero doesn't mean everyone has an equal probability of winning; OP's expected earnings could still very well be negative.

marty998

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2013, 04:41:24 PM »
I decided not to join my office tipping comp this year ($20 saved). A millionaire is made $10 at a time.

Gambling has just become such an ingrained aspect of life in Oz these days that it is hard to escape it. Every single sporting event has multiple betting companies sponsoring the game and media coverage, inserting their vampiric teeth into commentary teams, half time shows, ad breaks, ground signage, food containers and team jerseys.

Enough is enough, I'm putting my foot down and saying no more. An ever since I stopped participating in the office footy comp, and stopped the random $2 betting I've found I can actually enjoy watching a game of rugby league, rather than secretly hoping for a team that I don't even like to win.

Richard3

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2013, 05:46:33 PM »
One of the things I miss about my office job (aside from the free coffee and snacks) was the regular opportunity for fantasy sports and 0EV (or better) gambling.

But then I'm a nerd who will make a spreadsheet to determine whether it's better to pick up the Dallas or Washington defense off of waivers or whether I should pick Chelsea this week in the last man standing contest or whether Tiger woods is likely to be worth $x in the Calcutta. If you don't find that sort of thing fun you're better off not playing - especially if your office has someone like me in it.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2013, 06:54:08 PM »
Quote
I decided not to join my office tipping comp this year ($20 saved). A millionaire is made $10 at a time.

$20 saved? Not really, as this assumes you're going to lose. I'm not sure the "pros" of bracket picking are much better than "average joes"- look at the brackets of ESPN basketball analysts from years past and how many of them ended up below average! If there's no ability to pick above average brackets then it's a risk neutral wager- you expect to neither win or lose money. If you read a few articles on bracket-picking, you might even have a better than average shot going into the pool if you pick certain upsets, depending on how savvy your teammates are. Plus you get the benefit and enjoyment of being able to participate with your coworkers.

Apocalyptica602

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2013, 07:34:47 PM »
I don't really pick brackets as I have no interest in most (read: any) professional sport. I will pick boxes in a SuperBowl pool since that doesn't require any knowledge and it's more of a fun numbers game. (I actually won $200 in this past SuperBowl pool without watching the game! People at work were like 'don't you want your money?') Haha.

Although as some others have been saying if it's a zero-sum game with just a bunch of people from the office I don't really see the harm in it. But yes if you don't win it is most certainly money down the drain.

Casinos have a massive overhead so they rely on a constant inflow of suckas in order to make a profit.

The guy who wins the $2mm jackpot is a drop in the bucket, casino owners probably are grinning because now 100k suckas are gonna say "I wanna win a jackpot" and throw $100/head into a slot machine.

Despite my above comments, I'm not anti-gambling. I've done it and I enjoy it. Everything in moderation and don't let anything get in the way of your FI goals.

bogart

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2013, 07:55:14 PM »
Well, you can always tell your coworkers that gambling is against your religion ...


marty998

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2013, 09:34:59 PM »
Quote
I decided not to join my office tipping comp this year ($20 saved). A millionaire is made $10 at a time.

$20 saved? Not really, as this assumes you're going to lose. I'm not sure the "pros" of bracket picking are much better than "average joes"- look at the brackets of ESPN basketball analysts from years past and how many of them ended up below average! If there's no ability to pick above average brackets then it's a risk neutral wager- you expect to neither win or lose money. If you read a few articles on bracket-picking, you might even have a better than average shot going into the pool if you pick certain upsets, depending on how savvy your teammates are. Plus you get the benefit and enjoyment of being able to participate with your coworkers.

Up until I was about 17 I was awesome at tipping and it's been all downhill from there :) Last 3 years I've finished in the bottom 20%, amongst people who had given up half way through the year.

So yeah, notwithstanding all the analysis in the world that I do, I can't tip rugby league.

Karl

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2013, 01:53:59 PM »
Speaking as a person who teaches statistics on a regular basis, I will happily gamble for as many peanut M & Ms as you would like to bring to he table.  That way, if I don't feel good about the game's progress, I have easy access to a mood enhancing, only slightly-addictive substance.  :)

Richard3

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Re: NCAA Office Pool
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2013, 03:35:04 PM »
Bracket theory is a really interesting subject. You basically have two competing goals - differentiation and maximisation - when filling out your bracket.

Differentiation basically means that your goal is not to score as many points as possible. It is to increase your chances of finishing with more points than the best competitor. This means that sometimes picking an upset, even though it reduces your expected points overall, is the right thing to do because if it happens then you are very likely to win.

Maximisation is the opposite - in general you want to pick the better team to win each match (the good news is these are not always in accordance with the seeds) because this way you will be most likely to score a lot of points.

A straight differentiation bracket will always lose (because you're picking the worse team in so many games it is practically certain you will lose a lot of games). However, a straight maximisation bracket will almost always lose (unless you're playing against very few people or a group of people who will all differentiate poorly - like a bunch of really proud alumni of a good but not great school) because when you do well everyone else does well.


The ESPN analysts have additional pressure to differentiate as they need to fill airtime. "Well Joe, I think the favourites will win this one too because they're a better team" makes for terrible television.