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“Football For Girls!” • May 16, 2006



No???? If you are of the female persuasion then of course you’d rather have multiple root canals that sit through a game watching overgrown, oversized, brainless troglodytes beating the daylights out of each other in some oversized, overpriced, football cathedral thing!

BUT — just stay with your favorite blond for a moment and I’ll show you the REAL attraction to those little football games that set all the males’ hearts atwitter.

And — speaking of guys, look around and check everywhere — make sure that none of them are trying to sneak in here — this little discussion is for Girls only!  If you find any guys lurking around, beat ‘em up and toss them out the door on their posteriors!  And lock the door, too!!

Are they all gone??? Good!!!

OK — since we gals are now alone, I can tell you what is so attractive about football to all of us members of the fairer sex.  It is the PERFECT way to mess with the Guys!  In particular, it is the perfect way to mess with their minds — AND more importantly, with their wallets!!!

Translation: Little Meredith is gonna teach you how to finance your shopping trips via the gentle art of betting on football against the GUYS!!

This all started last fall.  Football season got kicked off and I off course paid about as much attention to that “big event” as I do to Arbor Day!  I’d have blissfully ignored it completely, but then I noticed the guys around the office trading sheets of paper around — and — trading $5 bills attached to each sheet!  It was the third week of the season by the time I finally figured out what was going on.  I made Roger give me a full explanation of the mechanics.

First, there are two ways of betting on the football games around the office.  One is the “Squares.” Avoid this like the plague because it is nothing but random luck.  You pay a dollar, five dollars,or whatever, and you get a random combination of two numbers that are each 0 to 9.  These represent the last digit of the final score for each team.  Sure — you may get lucky and win — but it’s all just luck and there is no way to improve your odds.

The other kind of office thing is the one we want.  This one isn’t luck because you get to pick the winners of each game.  And with just a little bit of wily blond genius, we can improve our odds a lot!!

Here’s the way it works.  There are 34 teams and they each play 16 weekly games in the regular season.  But 2 teams are off each week, so only 32 play each week which means that there are 16 games per week.  15 of these games are played on Sunday, (or sometimes a couple will be a day or two ahead — I don’t have a clue why,) and 1 game is played on Monday night.  So — each “week” starts on Tuesday and ends Monday night.  Because each team plays 16 times and has a 1 week vacation during the season, the season lasts for 17 weeks.  (For the life of me I can’t understand why those guys get a vacation in the middle of the season — for the kind of money they make they should be playing everyday!!)

The betting sheets have the list of the 16 games to be played that week.  They list the “home” team first and then the “visitors” second for each game.

SO — you pay your money and get your sheet.  Then you circle the team that you think is gonna win each game.  The last game listed — the one played on Monday night — is the “tiebreaker.” On this one you put in what you think is gonna be the final score for both teams.  Then you wait to see how the games turn out.

The person that correctly picks the most winning teams wins the total pot.  If two people are tied after the first 15 games are played, then whichever guesses the scores the closest for the Monday night games wins the pot.  AND — in our office, it cost $5 to play — and about a 100 play each week — SO — the winner gets about $500!!!!!!!!!!  Woo-Hoo!!!!!!  Power shopping here I come!!!!

Now before you think I’m counting chickens still in the shell, just let me continue my little story from last fall — and then I’m gonna tell you how you can do the SAME THING!!!!!!  (Just make sure that no guys manage to sneak in!)

My friend Tomás runs the football pool at our office.  Tomás acts like a total fool about 99% of the time — and worse acts like a 110% male chauvinistic pig — but the truth is that he’s neither one of those.  But boy oh boy does he do a good job of talking the talk!!

Tomás is actually our VP of programming and about number three in the company behind THE Boss and Miss DNA.  He’s got a Ph.D. from MIT so all his idiot nonsense if just an act.  And as far as the girl bashing, all you have to do is check with his wife, Maria, to find out that “Tommy” is really a big softy!

Anyway — the REAL reason he runs the football pool is because he doesn’t want to chance it going away.  I found out that in most years he wins at least once and maybe twice!  To play 17 weeks at $5 a week cost $85.  Win once and you get $500 — win twice and you get a cool grand!!  SO — Tomás runs, and PROMOTES, the football pool!

So once I got wise to what the guys were doing I decided that they needed a little fresh blood in the game.  By this time the fourth week of the season was starting so I’d only have 14 chances to win.

Now one of the things you’ve got to do, Ladies, is not only win their money but also drive them crazy!  SO — I took a $5 bill from my purse, spent a couple of minutes crumpling it up until it was unmistakably “girl money.” (Guys always carefully fold their money and stash it in their billfolds.  The also keep it in order by denomination and make sure that all the faces are “up.” Girls tend to crumple money into the bottom of their purse — i.e. Girl money!  Roger teases me about it all the time!)

So I stomp over to Tomás’ office, plot down my “Girl $5” and with my best innocent little girl voice say, “I’ve heard about this football thing.  Can I play?”

WELL — like a great white shark eyeing a wounded tuna, he grins, “Sure, Chica — I’ll be glad to take your money!”

So I get my sheet and talk to Roger, Rick, Steven, and George that night.  And from there comments, suggestions, and “expert” analysis, I make my picks for the 4th week of the season.

WELL — I didn’t win!!  In fact I was in the bottom 25%!!!

So, I pay $5 more, get the week 5 sheet and do my own research on the web by reading through all the sports guys’ web pages and trying to make some sense of them.

WELL — I didn’t win again, but I was about in the middle of the pack.  That was an improvement except that Tomás DID win and he was more insufferable than usual!

I spent a couple of days licking my wounds, then headed off for Tomás’ office again with my five bucks.  On the way, I managed to help the cost of my little operation significantly.  That is, I met THE Boss in the hallway and conned him into “loaning” me the five bucks!  (THE Boss and I both knew that was the last time he’d see that five dollars — he really should give me another raise!)

So I get the week 6 betting sheet and listen to Tomás saying how “thankful” he was for my $5 “donation” from the previous week.  I resisted the temptation to throttle him, (not much real chance of that — he’s 6-4 and pitched a year of pro baseball before messing up his arm — that was before he went off to MIT,) and instead decided to wipe the grin off his face for good!

SO — back to the web for more research!  And not only research, but also rubbing a few blond brain cells together to see what kind of fire I could start!

SO — I turn in my week 6 selections.

AND — Sunday night it’s all over — the Monday tiebreaker isn’t gonna be needed, because I HAVE WON IT OUTRIGHT!!!  WOO-HOO!!!!!!!!

So far I’ve invest $10, hustled THE Boss out of $5, and have won $500!!

And for the rest of the week, I listened to all the guys talking about the “dumb broad and her dumb luck.” Charming!

SO — week 7 comes around — and my Neanderthals get upset by the Troglodytes and I don’t win — but I was in the top ten!

Hmmm — they guys are starting to look at me a little funny!  How nice!!!!

Week 8 — and after Sunday night, Karl, our Chief Information Officer, and I are tied going into the Monday night game.  AND — I win by 2 points!!!!!!

Not only have I now won a cool $1000, the guys are really starting to take notice!  (Karl has a help wanted sign on his door for a “hit man” that likes “offing” blondes!!)

And — the fun is just getting started!  Not only have I been taking their money, now I have a chance to really work the guys over.  Every time I turn around, I’ve got some guy trying to hustle me for “tips.”

Which I gleefully give them.  Here’s some typical conversations!!

Guy: “Why did you pick the Troglodytes last week, Meredith?”

Me: “They had cuter uniforms.”

Guy: “Why did you pick the Troglodytes last week, Meredith?”

Me: “I saw them interviewing one of the cheerleaders on TV.  She was a gorgeous blond so I knew they’d win.”

Guy: “Why did you pick the Troglodytes last week, Meredith?”

Me: “Their helmets were shinier.”

Guy: “Why did you pick the Troglodytes last week, Meredith?”

Me: “I saw a picture of one of their guys on the web — really cute.”

Guy: “Which guy?”

Me: “I don’t know, I didn’t pay any attention — I was just enjoying the view!”

Guy: “Well, what position does he play?”

Me: “I don’t know.  He looked pretty conservative, so probably the missionary.”

And a few others:

“Their cheerleaders do better high kicks.”

“Their coach looked like a guy I saw in the grocery store.”

“I figured it was time for them to win at home, (they were actually visitors playing on the other coast.)”

“I figured that a Troglodytes would win over a Mastodon in a fight.”

Anyway, you get the picture!  The guys just stare, shake their heads in dismay, and walk off mumbling!

Week 9 — and I got clobbered with a bunch of stupid upsets.

Week 10 — and I’m in the second group that missed one more than the two guys in the tiebreaker.

Week 11 — I make it to the tiebreaker on Monday night with three guys — and lose.

Week 12 — I totally blow them away!!!!  Not only did I win, but it was by a margin of two wins!!  The death threats have started again!

Week 13 — Tomás and I are tied after Sunday.  And in the Monday night tiebreaker, I win by 7 points!!!

I have now invested $45 of my own money, $5 from THE Boss, and have won $2000!!!!  My e-mail inbox is full of death threats — some I’m beginning to take a little seriously!  In particular, Karl is threatening to format my server!  Tomás is circulating a petition to have me banned — both from the betting pool and from the office — and maybe the planet!  THE Boss nips that in the bud by saying if they ban me, he’s gonna ban the betting pool.  I decided that for being such a sweetheart, I’d give him his $5 back!!

Week 14 — I’m back in the pack.

Week 15 — I miss out by 1 win.

Week 16 — I make it to the tiebreaker with six other people and lose!

Week 17 — I’m back in the pack again.

So — in total I spend $70 and won $2000, (after giving THE Boss his money back.) And I was in the tie breaker two other times — I might have won $3000!!!

SO — needless to say, I can’t wait for football season to roll around again!!

The big question I’m sure you are asking is how I did it??

Which will now be revealed!!

But first, let’s do a quick check and make sure no guys have managed to sneak in.  All clear?? OK!!!

First — you don’t “win” by picking the winning teams.  You win by picking more winning teams than the GUYS!!  So the task isn’t figuring out the NFL — it’s figuring out how guys bet on the NFL!!

For starters, most guys don’t really know any more that you do.  They have no business betting because all they are doing is making the pot bigger.  It’s kind of like, “Well — I’m a guy — so that must mean I’m a sports expert — so of course I’ve got to get in the football pool!” What’s even sadder is that they believe this nonsense!  And sadder still, we let them run around loose without leashes!!!

These guys you can totally discount — they aren’t gonna beat you.

Next are the “fans.” They like football, probably played some back in high school or something, and again think that makes them experts.  Just because you know a left back from a right back or whatever doesn’t mean you can figure out who’s gonna win.  But these guys worst fault is that since they like the game, they have favorite teams — and bet on them when they stand no chance of winning.  You’ve got guys that “show their support” for the home team by picking them to win.  If you live in the Houston area like I do, you can imagine what going with the home team is gonna do to your winning percentage!!

These guys you can also discount.  If you pick rationally, you’ll beat them because you have “NO” favorites!!

Next are the “analysts.” These guys can’t get enough of sports.  They read ever sports column on Earth!  And from all this mumble jumble, they try to pick the winners.  The problem is when you read everything, what you are mostly reading is all the “hometown” sports writers across the country, which to keep their jobs, always find something good to say about the home teams.  So even though a team has no chance, you can convince yourself that “they just might do it,” so they get circled on your betting sheet.  Basically, these guys drown themselves in so much information that they continuously mess up.

These guys are not your competition!

Next are the “gamblers.” These are the guys that try to pick the upsets.  They are the ones that would go to a horse race and pick the 100 to 1 horse because they’ll win a lot if it wins.  But there is a reason that horse is 100 to 1!!  The “gamblers” will sometimes win — because there are weeks were everyone seems to get upset, but in the long run, they are gonna lose along with everyone else.

There are also not your competition.

Which brings us to the guys you really have to work at to beat — the “pros!” Tomás is a pro.  He wins a time or two every year.  He’s consistent and he’s obviously doing his homework — and doing his homework well.  This is the guy you have to beat.  And to do that, you have to be a better “pro” than he is.

This is not easy, but it’s also obviously not impossible. The reason is because Tomás is a “GUY” and despite his pro status, he also suffers to a lesser extent from all the other guy afflictions.  He has favorite teams that sometimes will influence his decisions.  He sometimes takes long shots because “he’s got a hunch.” He reads the sportswriters’ columns and lets them talk him into going with the big media market team.  Translation, he too can be beat.

So most guys you don’t have to worry about.  And here’s how you beat the ones that you DO have to worry about — in other words, here’s how to beat the “pros” in your office.

It’s easy — you get you own group of “pros” to tell you how to bet.  And who are those people? They are the bookmakers — both legal and otherwise.  You can get the “line” on all the games direct form Las Vegas easily on the internet.  It’s what I used to make my picks.  These guys really are “pros.” They do it for a living.  They are all putting their money where their mouths are, so they can’t afford to be wrong very often.  And the bigger “sports books” at the casinos and stuff, have people that do nothing but follow everything about each team.  They study each statistic, keep track of the health of each player, factor in the home field advantage, the weather, everything — and from this they produce their “line” which is their prediction of the final score differential in each game.

This is all public information and you can bet that Tomás and the other office pros take a good long look at the line.  But — as long as you focus on beating the guys instead of picking the winners, you can still win the betting pool.  Let’s look at a typical week.

Remember there are 16 games to be played.  At least four of those games are sure things!  That is, in those games one team is so heavily favored that no one but one of the “gambler” guys would pick the underdog.  So — you pick the favored team — as does everyone else!  If they win as predicted, then everyone wins — if they get upset — everyone loses that one — so you stay even with the guys.  In most weeks, you and everyone else that pays attention to the line is gonna correctly pick 4 winners.  And anyone that doesn’t pick the favorites here has probably already knocked themselves out of the office pool!!

The next four are very likely, but there is usually an upset or maybe two.  But again, most of the pros are gonna go with the favorites, so you should, too.  Figure to correctly pick the winners in 2 or 3 of these.  That brings you to typically 6 or 7 correct out of the bottom 8 games.

The next four are pretty close — usually within a touchdown (those are worth 7 points — I’ve learned a little — but not much.) In this case, you’ve just got to play the odds and go with the favorites.  Some weeks you may lose all 4 and in others you may win all 4.  The important thing is that you went with the “smart money.” The “pro” guys in your office will research these like crazy and try to figure out what’s “really” gonna happen.  In the long run, they won’t beat the bookies — or you.  Stick with the favorites and hope that emotion or over analysis will steer the guys onto the wrong teams.  Let’s say on the average you’ll win 2 or 3 of these, which runs you total “corrects” into the 8 to 10 range.

And finally the last four that are basically “too close to call.” At this point, you are probably in the running on the first 12 games with the “pros” and have hopefully lost a lot of the other guys already.  Depending on how well you do against the guys on these four is gonna either make you a winner or a loser.  If you win all 4, you’re very likely to take home the money.  Miss all four and there is always next week.

So what did I do? I flipped a coin!!  Literally!!  With 4 games there are 16 possible outcomes.  With random chance you will get all 4 right 1 time out of 16, 3 right 4 times out of 16, 2 right 6 times out of 16, 1 right 4 times out of 16, and none right 1 time out of 16.

On the first 12, you hopefully stayed about even with the guys you are playing against and you and they are probably got 8 to 10 correct.  When you add these random number to that, you get the following chart.

Remember that if you are on the low range because there has been a lot of upsets, then everyone is probably on the low side.  And the same thing for the high side.  With a 17 game season, you stand a pretty good chance of winning 1, and you should be close 4 more times.  And all it takes is to go with the bookies on the 12 most lopsided games and then flip a coin of the 4 closest games!

I won 4 times last fall by being lucky, (and a couple of the “pro’s” in the office making some dumb picks!) But my “mathematical expectation” was that I’d win once just by being a brainy blond!

This fall, I’m going to put my predictions here on the web and we’ll see how things work out this time.  (That is, assuming that the “legal gurus” can assure me that I won’t get in trouble!!  I’ve heard that when arrested, they put Digital People “under” the jail!)

Regardless, I think it’ll be OK to do another one of these to explain how to tap into the info from the sports books and where to find that info on-line.

That is, assuming that none of my “friends” at work carries through on their death threats!!!



PS And don’t forget to make sure you keep the guys away from this!!!

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Last Updated: May 2006

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