Football Pool Strategy 2022: Top Tips, Pick Tip How To Win NFL Survivor Pool Competitions 2022
The 2022 NFL season is upon us and with it comes the opportunity to win big prizes if you use the right survival strategy. The good news is that most players don’t understand what it takes to profit from long-term survival pools. In this post, we’ll go over four survival strategy tips that will increase your chances of being the last person standing.
NFL survivor groups are risky ventures. The most likely outcome (for now) is to lose. In fact, in each of the past 10 years, at least 50 percent of survival pool participants nationwide have been eliminated by the end of Week 4. However, there is a way to make smarter survivor choices that greatly improves your chances of win. Our subscribers prove it.
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Note: This analysis is brought to you by PoolGenius, the only site that provides personalized selection tips that maximize your edge in survivor pools. Since 2017, PoolGenius subscribers have reported over $3.7 million in Survivor winnings using their NFL Survivor Picks.
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NFL Survivor Pool Strategy: Tips, Tips for Making the Best Picks
1. You can’t always play it safe in a group of NFL survivors
Many survivor players simply try to pick the team most likely to win, especially in the early weeks. Unfortunately for them, it can sometimes be a bad decision to give yourself the best chance to survive a week. Ironically, this strategy can actually decrease your chances of winning a survivor set because it often involves picking a team that many of your opponents are also picking.
To understand the optimal survival strategy, you need to know that the survival group is a zero-sum game. You can only defeat an opponent if (a) you pick a team other than them, (b) your pick wins, and (c) their pick loses. As a result, simply making the safest choice to maximize your chance of surviving the opening weeks can only provide the mirage of success, as surviving the opening weeks is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to win the pool and to do that you must survive as long as it takes to be the last entry. Even in smaller pools, achieving this goal often requires going deep into the season.
If you start automatically picking the safest pick every week, you’ll likely run out of good teams to pick later in the year and be at a big disadvantage. In addition, you might miss out on a bit of an opportunity to fight the crowd early on.
Smart survival pool players know that you have to be willing to take some risks early in the season to put up a strong finish. This strategy generally increases your chances of being eliminated early, but also gives you a better chance of eventually winning the pool. Below is an example of how we currently project win percentages for each team each week.
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2. Your choice should balance safety and value
The perfect survivor choice has three defining characteristics:
- It’s almost a lock to win
- This is a very unpopular choice for other entries in your pool
- He’s worthless as a potential pick in the coming weeks
Of course, good luck finding such a choice for survival in the real world, because conflicts abound in these three traits.
First, the teams most likely to win each week tend to be the best teams in the NFL, and therefore the teams most likely to be heavy favorites in the coming weeks. Second, the teams with the highest odds of winning are usually very popular because everyone wants to pick a winner.
Finally, if a team is mediocre and doesn’t have much value as a potential future pick, but happens to have a particularly juicy game in the current week (eg at home against the worst team in the NFL), that team will likely be a very popular pick.
As a result, your weekly survivor pick calculation must evaluate the balance between these three key factors (safety, pick popularity, and future value) for each team. We cover this topic in much more detail in our book Strategy for Survival, linked below.
EBOOK: Survivor Pool Strategy by PoolGenius
3. Choose popularity, so pay attention to it
The number of opponents choosing a particular team is of great importance to the survival strategy. When defeating an opponent requires picking a different team than them, anticipating how your opponents are likely to act is the first step in gaining an advantage.
Imagine playing a simple game in week 1 of 2022 with 99 other people. There is a $100 prize and all you have to do is correctly pick the Saints at Falcons winner to win the prize. If multiple people pick the winner, they are all entered into a drawing to win the $100 prize.
Looking at the betting odds, you see that the Saints have about a 70 percent chance of beating the Falcons, making the Saints clearly the better pick in a vacuum. But what happens if you talk to your 99 opponents and find out that 90 of them plan to pick the Saints?
In that case, picking the underdog Falcons will maximize your expected winnings from the game. The bad news is that you will only pick the winner correctly 30 percent of the time. But if the Falcons win, you’ll have a much better chance of winning the $100 prize because you’ll only be entering the sweepstakes against nine opponents versus 90. In this scenario, picking the Falcons gives you over four times the expected winnings of picking the Saints. average.
This simple example illustrates why you need to consider the popularity of choices in order to make choices that maximize profits in survival groups. To win more pools, you need to understand the expected value (or “EV”) of each possible selection. This is a calculation that takes into account both risk (ie how likely a team is to win) and reward (ie the benefit to you if you avoid picking a losing team). You can’t measure the reward side of this equation without knowing the popularity of the choice.
We collect national pick popularity data from multiple survivor pool hosting sites and do EV calculations for each team in our NFL Survivor Picks product. (It even includes a custom EV calculator where you can enter your best guesses about how your opponents will pick.)
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4. It pays to make controversial choices (but not always)
If a large number of entries pick the same team as you, it lowers your expected value. In this scenario, either you and many of your opponents will survive together (in which case you haven’t gained much benefit), or you’ll all be eliminated together.
However, there is no hard and fast rule about when you should avoid very popular choices. After a few weeks, the most popular choice is still the best option. (For example, maybe this is the last chance to use a team that will have no future value beyond the current week.) In other weeks, taking an unpopular (but almost as safe) team instead of a popular heavy favorite can provide a much higher EV .
In recent years, some major upheavals have wiped out large sections of survivor groups when very popular elections were lost. Many players who ended up winning pools avoided picking these teams and benefited greatly from the disruption.
- 2021: Beginning with the Jets’ win over the Bengals in Week 8 (46 percent popularity), the most popular pick of the week has lost an incredible six straight weeks. On average, the disruptions deleted 50 percent of the still-surviving records each week during that six-week period.
- 2020: 29 percent of the crowd was eliminated when Dallas beat Minnesota in Week 11, then another 24 were eliminated when the Jets beat the Rams in Week 15.
- 2019: Over 80 percent of all other records were eliminated when both the Saints and Colts lost in Week 10.
- 2018: A loss to the Saints in Week 1 knocked out 30 percent of the pubic, and 58 percent of the remaining entries were eliminated two weeks later when Buffalo upset Minnesota.
- 2017: 37 percent of the rest were eliminated in Week 5 when Jacksonville upset Pittsburgh.
However, great crowd fade opportunities don’t come along every week. The smartest survivor pool players use data to understand when it makes more sense to take or avoid a very popular big favorite, and our custom survivor pick rankings take all the necessary factors into account.
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More NFL survivor tips to keep in mind
In addition to the pick’s popularity and expected value, other strategic considerations factor into selecting a top survivor each week. The most important thing to understand is that there is no universal “best choice” for all types of survival pools. The optimal strategy depends on your pool size, rules, and other circumstances.
For example, from a rules perspective, consider hit checkers. (Strike pools are survivor pools in which your second incorrect pick, not your first, eliminates you from the pool. Your first incorrect pick is simply called a “strike”.) In these pools, picking a more popular team may make more sense if you don’t have a strike, but most of your opponents do. If the pick loses, a bunch of your opponents will be eliminated while you just take your hit and soldier.
However, if you have a hit but most of your opponents don’t, the reverse strategy applies. Even more than usual, you should avoid popular teams because you can’t make up for players who don’t have a strike yet by simply following their lead.
Another example: the bigger your pool, the more entries you have to beat and the longer the pool is expected to last. So in larger survival groups you usually have to take more measured risks to set your picks apart from the masses. There’s also a higher premium on keeping good teams for future use instead of burning them early.
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Ready to gain an edge in your 2022 NFL survivor pool?
The strategic tips we’ve covered in this post provide examples of what it takes to maximize your advantage in NFL survivor groups. Most survivor players either don’t think about them or don’t understand how to apply them. If you can incorporate next-level strategy into your selection process, you’ll win NFL survivor groups much more often in the long run. Of course, it’s not easy, and the level of analysis required takes a lot of math and a lot of time. If you prefer to outsource all the necessary data gathering and number crunching to the experts, we invite you to check out our NFL Survivor Picks product.
At the start of the season, you can even try it out for free using the link below.
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