NCAA Tournament Calcutta Pool Rules, Setup & Sheet to Track Your Own Auction

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We’ve built a simple spreadsheet to organize and track your auction for the 2021 NCAA Tournament, and Collin Wilson shared some of his Calcutta strategy.


Looking to spice things up this March? Calcutta auctions are a great alternative to your traditional NCAA Tournament bracket pool.

How does it work? You bid on teams, and when those teams win games, you collect a portion of the total pot. But there isn’t a set limit for how much one person can spend, like in a fantasy football auction. The total pot grows and evolves as the auction goes on, and some serious game theory comes into play.

That’s what makes Calcutta so fun. If someone wants to spend $100 on Baylor after Michigan goes for $15, so be it. If Gonzaga ends up going for 50% of the total pot, that’s alright too. Just about anything is fair game.

We created a spreadsheet so you can easily track your Calcutta pool auction and results.

Typically, longshots need just a win or two to return your investment. No. 1 and 2 seeds need to make a deep run to pay off.

Here’s an example payout structure with $2,000 in the pot. If your team wins the national title, you’d get 24% of the total pot because you’d collect a percentage for every win.

Win % of Pot Money Won
First Round 0.5% $10
Second Round 1% $20
Sweet 16 3% $60
Elite Eight 4.5% $90
Final Four 7% $140
National Champ 8% $160
Biggest Blowout Loss 4% $90

Why include the biggest blowout? It incentives participants to bid on the really bad teams, too. You can tweak the payouts per round, or add your own bonuses. Just make sure it all adds up to 100%.

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Pros of Calcutta Auction

  • Calcutta auctions give you complete control over your teams, and who you want to buy. Just be ready to pay up.
  • You can spend as much or as little as you want. You can show up to the auction and buy no teams at all.
  • You alone own each team. Your rooting interests will be much simpler; traditional brackets often get messy.
  • It’s not a winner-take-all situation; one team can carry the rest of your portfolio.

Cons of Calcuttas

  • Auctions are difficult to organize, especially if you’re not together will all the participants.
  • Some people will be scared off by the potentially high stakes nature of Calcutta auctions, since the entry isn’t capped.

Good luck and enjoy!

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