What are Sports Betting Pools?

Online sports betting is not yet active in Florida. This page will be updated with the latest promos, news and odds once Florida sportsbooks launch.

What’s a betting pool, you ask?

Well, if you’ve ever filled out an NCAA Tournament bracket or an NFL Pick’em sheet, and then competed against other entrants for a share of a prize pool, that’s a betting pool. You and the other entrants “pool” your entry fees and divvy that money up among the group’s most successful entries.

Betting pools at legal online sportsbooks take what you’ve always done at your local bar or office and open it up to anyone and everyone. The result is almost always bigger prize pools for the same events you’ve always bet on. They most certainly equal an easy entry point for anyone new to sports betting.

From free-to-play pools to those with a real-money entry fee, here’s your guide to finding the best betting pools at legal online sportsbooks in Florida.

How do betting pools work?

Betting pools are great for sports betting beginners because losses are limited to the entry fee. There’s no need to be perfect; just be better than the other entries in the pool.

Pools are hardly high-risk gambling, but they can offer a pretty big bang for your buck. That said, most pools won’t even cost you a buck, as sportsbooks tend to use the betting pool format for any free-to-play contests they run.

Whether it includes an NCAA Tournament bracket, an entire week’s NFL games, or any other slate of betting event matchups, you’ll find the events you’re betting on for any pool on its entry card. The card is the same for all entries in that pool.

So, how does a sports pool work? You pick a side or a winner for every game or prop on the card, and when you’re done, you enter it in the pool. All the entry fees are brought together to create a prize pool. If there’s no entry fee, the sportsbook will put up the entire pool to be won.

The prize pool is either awarded to the entry with the most winners picked or split up on a sliding scale among the top-performing entries. Sportsbooks may also take a percentage for profit to cover the cost of running the pool.

Which Florida sportsbooks offer betting pools?

As long as the Florida Legislature‘s sports betting compact with the Seminole tribe holds up to the legal challenges it currently faces in court, Hard Rock International and the Seminole Indian Tribe will be the only entity taking legal sports bets in Florida.

According to that compact, every bet on sports in the state has to go through the Seminole tribe. However, the tribe can partner with pari-mutuel facilities like local racetracks, which, in turn, can subcontract out sports betting services to private commercial operators like DraftKings Sportsbook or BetMGM Sportsbook. These big-time sports betting brands will run the tech. All bets will ultimately travel through a server on Seminole lands, and the tribe, the pari-mutuel facility, and the operator will each get a cut of any profits.

What this means for you as a sports bettor in Florida is that you should soon have a choice for where you place your bets. That said, outside of branding, there really won’t be much to choose between them.

It should also mean some options for pool betting. DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM have all been known to run free and paid-entry March Madness bracket contests and NFL Survivor Pools.

NFL betting pools

NFL betting pools are traditionally either pick ’em pools or survivor pools. Pick ’em Pools involve picking winners for either a group of games or the entire slate of games each week.

Pools may be run for the entire season or separately each week. Survivor pools ask you to pick a single winner a week. Only correct entries advance until just one remains. That last entry standing wins.

Are sports betting pools worth it?

Considering it may take only a minute or two to enter online and costs you nothing but that tiny bit of time, free-to-play pools are always worth entering. Some free-to-play contests may draw millions of entries, making them difficult to win. But even an unrealistic chance of winning is still a chance. If it costs you nothing, why not?

Paid-entry pools are a different animal. There are a few things you need to consider when deciding if a paid-entry pool is worth entering. That starts with the entry fee.

High-entry fee contests can be attractive because they draw fewer entries, making it appear as though you’ve got a better chance of winning. Just be aware that these contests draw successful bettors. They tend to be hard to beat.

Lower-fee contests may seem easier to win because pro sports bettors might not bother with them. Just pay attention to limits on the number of entries. If entries are unlimited, the pros you’re trying to avoid may try to buy a shot at the big prize pools that lower-fee contests can create.

Ultimately, you should look for pools with affordable entry fees that draw big enough to create a decent prize pool but not so big your chances of winning are lessened. Hopefully, the professional sports betting community won’t be allowed to buy a better shot at the prize pool through multiple entries in the contests you enter. That way, they’ll always be worth taking your own shot at.

Are pools better in some sports than others?

You’re not likely to find much of anything outside of NFL pools or March Madness bracket pools. If you do, take a good look at the entry fee and the number of entries expected before deciding if that pool is for you. Then, decide if you’re willing to put your knowledge of that particular sport up against others.

If the answer is yes or the entry fee is so affordable it’s worth taking a shot even if the answer is no, go ahead. Here’s an example of the different types of sports betting that might make for attractive pools outside of college basketball betting and NFL betting:

  • Boxing or MMA betting: All fights on a single event card
  • Golf betting: Entering a group of golfers in a single tournament where the lowest total score wins
  • NCAA football betting: Weekly common slate of games or bowl games
  • Tennis betting: Entering a group of players in a single tournament where the lowest total finishing position number wins
  • Betting on horse racing: Entering a group of horses from a single race day where the lowest total finishing position number wins

Are traditional betting pools different from survivor pools?

Betting pools generally involve picking winners for the same group or slate of games. Survivor pools are about picking a single winner each week throughout a season. Get it right and advance; get it wrong and you’re out. The survivor pool continues until just one entry is left standing, and that’s the winner. Traditional betting pools award a new winner for every card, instead.

Are betting pools really sports betting?

Betting pools may not be considered traditional single-game wagering. But make no mistake about it: sports pool betting is a form of sports betting. You’re picking winners (or at least trying to), and in the case of paid-entry pools, you’re putting some money down on those picks.

Instead of trying to beat a sportsbook and get paid at the currently posted odds on a single bet or parlay, you’re competing against everyone else in the pool. In short, paying to enter a betting pool is betting.

In this case, it’s free-to-play pools that are different animals. Since no money is bet or entry fee paid, it’s hard to consider free-to-play pools a form of gambling. These are more akin to contests or sweepstakes, offering you a chance at something for nothing. Of course, sportsbooks use free-to-play pools to draw you in. They are undoubtedly a pathway to similar paid-entry pools and single-game wagering.

Private betting pools vs. sportsbooks pools

Sportsbook pools are really no different from the pools you may have entered at your favorite local pub, the office, or among friends. Sportsbooks are just opening up these pools to the public, so anyone and everyone can enter. That usually means more entries, which makes for bigger prize pools, but the trade-off is they can be harder to win.

Whether to enter a sportsbook pool or a private pool is a personal decision. Want to win big? A sportsbook pool may be your best bet. Just want to win? The private pool with fewer entries might offer you the best odds.

How to set up your own betting pool

Setting up your own private betting pool based around a single sporting event or day-of events is easy enough to do. Invite your friends and family over and create an interesting card to bet on. Whether it includes horse race betting on Kentucky Derby day, betting on Super Bowl players and teams, fighters on the same MMA card, or just about anything else, you’ve got to create a card full of game or race bets and props to hook people.

Then, make sure you’ve got a scoring system and payout plan to separate one entry from the next and decide who ultimately wins. You might also consider including a bonus for the main event, big race or big game wins. Finally, decide on an entry fee everyone can afford, so there’s something worth winning at the end but nobody loses the rent money. Private pools like this should lean toward fun with friends over serious gambling. Prioritize the camaraderie and rooting interest.