Jasen Vinlove, USA Today Sports
The World Cup is the biggest gambling event on the planet, and there are plenty of ways to get involved.
Events such as the World Cup are great for pools. Whether it’s at the office, with your friends or one you came across on a subreddit, pools are a good way to get invested in a sporting event as grandiose as the Copa Mundial.
Of course, the World Cup is not as straightforward as, say, the NCAA Tournament. Whereas March Madness is one-and-done, the World Cup’s group-to-knockout format presents pool-makers with an interesting challenge. There are online providers, such as runyourpool.com, that will take care of those logistics for a fee. While those pay-for-admin pools are fine, I’ve outlined a format below that works really well for this particular tournament.
Shoutout to my pal Tom for this format.
For this pool, you break the participants down into eight groups of four, but instead of using the World Cup groups, you group them using Vegas odds. Each participant in the pool would pick one team from each group.
The first group would consist of the four favorites (Brazil, Germany, France, Spain), the next set would consist of teams ranked 5-8 (Argentina, Belgium, England and Portugal) and so on. If you’d rather sort the teams by FIFA world rankings or ELO rankings instead of Vegas odds, you can do that as well. The kicker is that you get double the points from teams in Groups 6-8. This puts an emphasis on picking the right dark horse for the tournament.
If you use Vegas odds, the groups would stack up like this:
1 point for each goal scored, regardless of round.
1 point for each point earned in group play (Teams get three points for a win, one for a draw, zero for a loss)
8 points for winning a group
4 points for finishing second (and advancing out of the group stage)
12 points for reaching the quarterfinals
24 points for reaching the semifinals
36 points for reaching the final
48 points for winning the final
Teams in Groups 6, 7 and 8 earn double points.