It’s hard to remember a time when Super Bowl betting wasn’t also attached to Super Bowl Squares.
Long before Michigan had legalized sports betting to turn to, Super Bowl squares were a way to keep the big game even more entertaining.
Although there’s plenty of luck involved, payouts can be big.
But, like any “game,” there can be some strategy involved to marginally improve your odds at coming out a winner when the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals meet on Feb. 13.
How to play Super Bowl Squares
In case you have never happened to take part in Super Bowl Squares, here’s a little rundown of how it works.
Someone will be responsible for running the squares and creating a 10-by-10 grid (so, 100 total squares). The squares will be empty.
You, as a participant, will pay for however many squares you want. Prices vary, depending on the host.
Once you pay for your squares, you write your name randomly into empty squares of your choosing.
After all of the squares have been occupied, the numbers 0 through 9 will be drawn randomly and assigned to the rows and columns.
What those numbers represent is the last digit in a team’s score. So, if you have a square that has Team A – 3 and Team B – 6, you would win if those numbers are the score at the end of one of the quarters of the Super Bowl. So if Team A leads Team B 13-6 at halftime, you would win for that quarter.
Generally, each quarter pays out 25% of the total money collected. Now, if a game goes to overtime, some hosts will use the final score, while others will use the score at the end of the fourth quarter. Some would even make a decision to run five payments at 20% each as opposed to four at 25%.
What are the best and worst squares to get?
With 100 different options, there are a lot of possible scoring combinations. So, getting a “sure thing” in squares is not really possible.
However, over time, it’s been clear that certain numbers have more value.
Prior to Super Bowl LV, Business Insider actually calculated all of the winning squares over the previous 20 games in Super Bowl history. Here are some key stats they came up with:
- 92.5% of the time, the score at the end of a quarter involved a 0, 3, 4, or 7.
- Any square with 2, 5, 8 or 9 has accounted for just 13.8% of the winning quarters in history. In all, 44 boxes hold one of those numbers.
In their study, here are the five squares that produced the most winners over their 20-year study.
- 0 (NFC), 0 (AFC) – 7.4%
- 0 (NFC), 7 (AFC) – 6.1%
- 7 (NFC), 0 (AFC) – 6.1%
- 0 (NFC), 3 (AFC) – 4.2%
- 3 (NFC), 0 (AFC) – 4.2%
In the same breath, there are quite a few squares that have a 0.2% history of winning or less. Only the square of 9, 9 has never won over the past 21 Super Bowls.
Super Bowl squares odds vary by quarter
Along with the top overall squares, the article also looked at which numbers have been the best plays per quarter.
Without designating by conference, the 7-0 pairing has hit in 20.9% of the first quarters in the study. A scoreless 0-0 is next at 19.1%, while 3-0 is at 16.4%. Last year, the end of the first was a 7-3 score, which accounts for 7.7% of the first-quarter winners.
At halftime, 4-0 has been the most consistent result at 11.4%. Second-best for the half has been 7-3, accounting for 9.5% of winners. Last year’s game was 21-6 at halftime, which doesn’t rank in the top 10 over the course of the study.
A 7-0 mark also stands as the most frequent winner after the third quarter (9.1%) and the fourth quarter (10.5%).
When do the Bengals and Rams score?
This year’s Super Bowl participants have had eerily similar scoring patterns throughout the season.
The Rams are averaging four points in the first quarter, 9.3 in the second, 6.4 in the third and 7.6 in the fourth. The Bengals breakdown is 4.3, 8.3, 6.2 and 7.4
Now, obviously the game won’t be 4-4 after one quarter (and if it is, “four safeties” bettors will absolutely break sportsbooks). But sitting at double fours (14-14) could be a great spot for the second quarter, as each team is right around two touchdowns per half on average. Double threes, or any combination of three and four, would also be attractive.
Two schools of thought for strategy
When people fill out squares, most think to spread their picks out and try to avoid matching up their name twice in any row or column.
However, there is another strategy to consider as well.
Although spreading your name out does guarantee you the biggest pool of overall number options, it also gives you the highest chance to land yourself in those dreaded numbers of 2, 5, 8, or 9.
Another option has seen players elect to keep their name all in the same row or column.
This option is obviously very hit-and-miss. If that respective row or column you elect to stay in has a 2, 5, 8, or 9, you’re likely have just set your money proverbially on fire.
However, if you draw a 7 or 0, that gives you a chance to not just win, but win in multiple quarters. You will have a power number for one team. That result will match up with most of the numbers with the opposing team.
If you picked 5 squares and placed them in one column that ended up as a 7, it gives you the opportunity to not only get 7-7, but also 7-0, 7-3 and so on.
This may sound crazy, but if you haven’t had much luck in the past for your Super Bowl Squares, maybe it is time to roll the dice.