Maybe you've been playing fantasy sports for a while and you've been asked to play in your first Confidence Pool. Or perhaps you're new to fantasy sport games entirely. In either case, a Confidence Pool is actually a pretty interesting way to bet on games. We say "bet" because you're picking a team to win each of each week's games, though you are not actually placing a wager.
The game is pretty simple. In a standard Confidence Pool, you're asked to pick the winners of each NFL contest for the week (yep, all 16 games; less during bye weeks). Then you weight each pick with a number of confidence points between 1 and 16 (where higher is better). You can not re-use a number, and you must use all numbers. When the team you picked to win actually wins, you get the points you assigned to that game.
Scoring and Payouts
So how do scoring and payouts work? Many pools will collect an entry fee. That fee is collected from all participants and dispersed in the form of weekly and / or season prizes. The weekly winner is the person whose coin flips yielded the most points from correct picks (as close to 136 points as possible). Those rankings are tabulated throughout the season to determine standings within your league. You can win one week to win money, and you can also win the aggregate scoring for the season.
This kind of award structure means that even rookie confidence poolboys can compete with experts. Even a novice who uses the "animal strategy" can pick the best during any given week. (The "animal strategy" is whereby you pick the winner as if it were a cage battle in the wilderness. For example, in a game pitting the Chicago Bears versus the Philadelphia Eagles, the Bears win every time. Of course, this strategy has a few pitfalls: see "Detroit Lions" or on the other end, "Arizona Cardinals.")
Variable League Settings
A good fantasy sports site will allow pool commissioners to pick from a wide variety of customizable settings. We'll address a few of the most common league options below. You will want to weigh the options and the cost amongst a few of the providers. There are some good websites out there that offer Free Confidence Pools. You just have to do a search for them.
Confidence Pools usually allow each team owner to discard a certain number of bad week's worth of picks per season (say, your lowest 2 weeks out of the 16 weeks). These are often referred to as "Drop Weeks." This feature allows you to forget about the week when you were heading out of town and did not read up, and it helps to brighten your spirits after an unusually bad week.
Another common option is to not rank weekly straight-up winners, but rather rank winners against the spread. This tougher option requires that if the Broncos – Raiders spread is 6 points (in favor of the Broncos in this case), you'd have to pick whether the Broncos will win by 6 or more, or win by less than 6. You ' d then assign confidence points to that pick as you would a normal pool.
Finally, does your pool allow "autopicks" to be used when the owner does not make picks for the week? Autopicks allow the computer to use your default decision-making system, such as to pick all favorites, ranked in descending order by the point spread. If your pool closes the opportunity to make picks at the start of the first game and you are busy sleeping off your Saturday night's drinks, at least you are playing that week.
If you've read this far, you deserve some advice on how to win your Confidence Pool. Beyond the obvious (which is to make sure to assign points according to your confidence), every confidence league player should be aware of the major factors that affect winning in the NFL: injuries, weather, home-field advantage, team matchups, and coaching matchups. Studying all of this information for every game can be tedious for the non-NFL-aholic, but there are many websites and experts that will offer predictions for each game. It's worth checking with these websites if you do not have time to do the research yourself.
Best of luck!