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Bowl Pick’em Picks
College Bowl Pool Picks 2021

Past Performance

We’re the only site that collects comprehensive subscriber results data that proves our edge

Data we started collecting in 2014 shows that our subscribers

Won bowl pick’em pools 84% more often than expected

That’s the difference between winning a 25-person pool once every 14 years, instead of the baseline expectation of once every 25 years.

The performance data tables below reflect customer reported results from 2,297 real-world pools.

Pool Win Rates By Season

Year to year, how often have our subscribers won a prize in each individual bowl pick’em pool they entered, compared to expectations?

Season Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
2014 10% 12% 1.2x
2015 11% 26% 2.3x
2016 11% 38% 3.6x
2017 10% 9% 0.9x
2018 10% 10% 1.0x
2019 9% 20% 2.1x
2020 11% 28% 2.5x
Total 10% 19% 1.8x

On average, our subscribers have won a prize in 19% of pools they have entered. That win rate is 84% higher than the expectation of 10%.

Based on our customer surveys, every year, an average of

26% of our subscribers win at least one bowl pick’em pool prize

Winning a pool is tough and our picks certainly don’t win every year. But if you’re willing to trust the process, the longer term rewards have been impressive.

Subscriber Win Rates By Season

Year to year, how often have our subscribers won at least one bowl pick’em pool prize across all pools they entered, compared to expectations?

Season Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
2014 14% 17% 1.2x
2015 16% 33% 2.0x
2016 16% 52% 3.4x
2017 15% 12% 0.8x
2018 16% 14% 0.9x
2019 14% 28% 2.0x
2020 13% 31% 2.3x
Total 15% 26% 1.7x

On average, 26% of our subscribers have won at least one bowl pick’em pool prize each year. That win rate is 69% higher than the expectation of 15%.

Drilling down into the details of survey responses, we find that

Reported edges hold across a variety of pool types and sizes

It's not just a lucky performance in one type of pool driving the overall success rates.

Pool Win Rates By Type Of Pool

Since 2014, how often have our subscribers won a prize in bowl pick’em pools they entered, compared to expectations and broken down by the specific rules of each pool?

Pick Type Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
Game Winner Picks 11% 23% 2.2x
Spread Picks 10% 11% 1.2x
Total 10% 19% 1.8x

Our subscribers have won prizes at a better-than-expected rate regardless of whether they had to make picks stright up or against the spread.

Scoring Type Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
Fixed Points 9% 17% 1.8x
Confidence Points 11% 21% 1.9x
Total 10% 19% 1.8x

Our subscribers have been successful both in pools that use confidence points and in those with fixed point values.

Game Slate Type Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
Fixed Game Slate 10% 19% 1.9x
User Selects Games 9% 12% 1.3x
Total 10% 19% 1.8x

Some pools allow entrants to select which games they'll make picks on. Our subscribers have performed well in these pools, as well as in pools where you pick every game from a defined slate.

As you can see, our bowl pick’em picks have delivered an edge in all types of supported pools. Note that we support combinations of these types, but if we break it down any further, the sample size gets too small to be meaningful.

Pool Win Rates By Pool Size

Since 2014, how often have our subscribers won a prize in bowl pick’em pools they entered, compared to expectations and broken down the size of each pool?

Pool Size Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
25 or fewer 16% 29% 1.9x
26 to 50 11% 20% 1.8x
51 to 100 8% 16% 2.0x
101 to 250 6% 11% 1.9x
251 to 1,000 4% 4% 0.9x
1,001 to 9,999 1% 7% 6.8x
10,000 or more 0% 0% 0.0x
Total 10% 19% 1.8x

As expected, the bigger the pool, the harder it is to win. Still, our picks have outperformed expectations by a wide margin in larger pools.

Pool Win Rates By Number Of Sheets Entered

Since 2014, how often have our subscribers won a prize in bowl pick’em pools they entered, compared to expectations and broken down by the number of sheets entered in each pool?

Number Of User Entries Expected To
Win A Prize
Won A Prize Win Rate vs. Expectation
1 9% 18% 2.1x
2 13% 21% 1.6x
3 or more 15% 23% 1.5x
Total 10% 19% 1.8x

So far, our biggest edge vs. expectations has been a single-entry strategy. That makes sense, since the first set of picks we recommend is the one with the best chance to win. Second and third entries make some different picks than the first entry, sacrificing some edge in order to hedge against the first set of picks.

You might notice that in the table above, entering 2 or 3 pick sets seems to win at a lower rate than entering just 1. That's actually just a quirk of the data, because subscribers playing more than one entry in a pool tended to be playing in larger pools. You can see this by looking at the Expected Win % column. Subscribers entering 3 pick sets don't have expected win rates 3 times higher than subscribers entering only 1 pick set, because their pools are larger.

How We Calculate Prize Win Expectations

To calculate how often one should expect to win a prize in a bowl pick’em pool, we make the assumption that all players in the pool are equally skilled.

In real life that's not exactly true; usually pools are filled with a mix of more skilled and less skilled pickers. But as long as it's a fairly even mix, this approach serves as a simple and "close enough" benchmark.

We also adjust prize win expectations for the payout structure of each subscriber pool, and for the number of entries a subscriber played in a specific pool.

For example, in a 100-person winner-take-all bowl pick’em pool, baseline expectations would give each player a 1-in-100 (or 1%) chance to win a prize, assuming they each entered once.

However, if the pool awarded prizes to the top three finishers, or if a player played two entries in the pool, then their chance to win a prize would be higher than 1%. We account for all of these factors in the "Expected Win %" numbers in the tables above.