- Super Bowl squares are a feature of any great Super Bowl party.
- Some squares are better than others.
- We went through 20 years of playoff football to figure out which numbers are the most valuable.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
This Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will meet in Super Bowl LV.
Whether you’re watching for the football, the halftime show, the commercials, or just looking forward to enjoying the food and drinks, a staple of almost every Super Bowl celebration is a squares pool.
Squares pools make it easy for even the most casual fans to get a little action on the big game. The rules are simple – someone prints out a 10×10 grid of 100 squares, which can be bought for a set amount – $2, $5, $10, or whatever fits the size and gambling interest of those participating.
Once every square has been purchased, numbers between 0-9 are drawn on both axes so that each square corresponds to a unique combination.
At the end of each half, or in some cases, the end of each quarter, the second digit of each team’s score is used to identify the winning square – if the Chiefs lead the Buccaneers 17-13 at halftime, the square that had Chiefs 7/Bucs 3 would cash the halftime prize.
Because players select their squares before they have been assigned their numbers, a squares pool is a true game of chance.
That said, once the numbers have been assigned, it’s clear that some boxes are more advantageous than others, so we decided to run the numbers and break down the most valuable boxes in your Super Bowl squares pool.
We looked at every postseason game from the 1998 season through the 2017 season – 20 years of football – and took the score at the end of the first quarter, at the half, at the end of the third, and the end of the game. Those 220 games and 880 quarters let us figure out where the best place to be on the Super Bowl grid is.
There are two things to remember: we’re only concerned with the last number in the score, and for every 7-0 there’s a 0-7 splitting the probability. All told, 12.3% of the quarters ended with one team with a “0” in the ones column and the other with a “7”, but 0-7 and 7-0 would split that probability for a 6.1% chance of winning money in that spot.
Looking at the above chart, the best place to be for those hoping to cash is in the 0-0 spot. Given the ease that a quarter can end 0-0, 10-0 or 10-10, it’s by far your best bet, with 7.4% of all quarters ending that way throughout the 220 games we examined.
A few more notes we can glean from the data:
- Any score involving a 2, 5, 8 or 9 is a rough position to be in: those 44 boxes combine to make up only 13.8% of quarters.
- 92.5% of the time, the score at the end of the quarter involved a 0, 3, 4, or 7.
- No quarter in a playoff game in the 20 years we analyzed ended 9-9.
While the 0-0 square is the best to have early on, the chances of winning in a particular slot change throughout the game.
19.1% of first quarters end with the 0-0 box winning, 20.9% end wither 7-0 or 0-7, and 16.4% end 3-0 or 0-3. If you have those values, your chances get worse every single quarter. The 4-0 and 0-4 box wins 9.5% of first quarters but rises to 11.4% by halftime.
Depending on which square you have, your chances might be better to win at the end of the game than in the early-goings.
Here are the top 10 best scores to be in, and how those odds change over time:
While it’s clear that the numbers you want your box to feature are 7 and 0, football is a crapshoot, and anything can happen. You can hope for the best box on the grid, but in both football and gambling, nothing is guaranteed.
Best of luck to you and your squares!