Super Bowl Squares: Explaining Rules of Popular Box Game

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2014

FILE PHOTO - EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image Numbers 450301691 (L) and 185451754 ) (Full editorial rights UK, US, Ireland, Australia, NZ, Canada (not Quebec). Restricted editorial rights for daily newspapers elsewhere, please call. )   In this composite image a comparison has been made between Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks (L) and Head coach John Fox of the Denver Broncos. The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will compete at the Super Bowl XLVIII  on February 2, 2014 at the MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey. ***LEFT IMAGE*** SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field on November 17, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Vikings 41-20. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 20: John Fox the head coach of the Denver Broncos gives instructions to his team during the game against the Indianapolis Colt
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Totally unconfirmed rumor that I just made up: The Super Bowl was created simply to give people something to bet on. That whole AFC-NFC merger thing? Merely secondary to a bunch of friends, sitting around at a country club with money to blow, wanting a big event to risk their millions on.

Actually, come to think of it, that sounds somewhat plausible. But let's pretend the "real" reason the Super Bowl was created—to figure out the best football team in America—is actually the real reason.

Either way, gambling has become nearly as synonymous with the event as the pigskin flying through the air itself, a secondary figure as prominent as buffalo wings, domestic beer and the "Movie of the Week" for Browns fans.

The great thing about the Super Bowl, at least for the sportsbooks, is that it's not just hardcore football fans and gambling degenerates wagering on Sunday. It's secretaries from the paper company. It's grandparents hoping to score big on their grandson's favorite team. It's people who just really, really like Peyton Manning and want the best for him like their own child.

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Public money floods in for the Super Bowl, especially when said contest involves the most famous football player on the planet. It's all in good fun, and no one should get all huffy telling people how they should spend their money. (Just gamble legally.)

Here's the problem with betting the Super Bowl: It helps to know what you're talking about. If you're not going to have an informed opinion about the game, you're oftentimes better off either donating the money to charity or just burning it in a garbage can.

At least you can pay for some form of heat with the latter.

But what if you want to bet, don't want to have any opinions on the matter and like being sociable with others? Well, welcome to Super Bowl Squares. I know what you're thinking, and it is unfortunately not a football version of Hollywood Squares with washed-up football players answering sports-related questions while sitting in a human tic-tac-toe board. (Free idea, networks!)

What is Super Bowl Squares, then? Here's a look at the rules.

(Hat-tip to and for most of these specifications.)


First, Find Some Friends

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Or friends of friends. Or co-workers. Or people you accost on the street and badger into playing a game with you. Whatever. Any breathing life form pretty much works, assuming it has interest and is willing to pay you in legitimate financial tender.

Unlike regular gambling, Super Bowl Squares cannot be a solo activity. There is no set number of people who must participate, but any less than 10 pretty much defeats the purpose. 


Got Friends? Good. Now Decide How You Want to Play

The most popular variation of the game (which we'll use as a base going forward) is a 10x10 box, filled with 100 squares. Most use the 100-square grid because it is the easiest to understand. Each box corresponds with a number from zero to nine, with the y-axis representing the score of one team and the x-axis representing the score of the other.

There are also 25-square and 50-square variations of the same game. If you're having trouble getting more than five or so people, going with this might be more fun. In the 25-square variation, each square gets two numbers on each axis. In the 50-square variation, you only get one number on the x-axis but two numbers on the y-axis.


Boy, This Sounds Complicated. Please Elaborate Further

Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Put in words, Super Bowl Squares seems complicated. In reality, it's almost mind-numbingly simple.

Remember those friends we talked about? Gather them together. Or don't. Go to their houses like a door-to-door salesperson. Allow said people to pick as many boxes as they like, knowing that each box selected comes with a set, corresponding value. If you want to invest in 10 boxes at $10 a pop, that's your prerogative—thank you kindly for the Benjamin.

If you want to invest $10 for one box, be my guest. We're not mad at Alexander Hamilton, either. 

Keep this process going until all 100 boxes (or 50 or 25) are filled. Then, assign numbers zero through nine to each of the corresponding boxes—making sure there are no repeats, and that you do this randomly in the spirit of fairness. Write the numbers to each corresponding box on the master sheet, then inform each of the participants of which numbers they have received.


OK, I Get It Now. What Do the Numbers Mean?

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Each number represents the second number of a team's score total, assuming a false zero for every single-digit total. Meaning, if you place the Broncos on the x-axis and they score 27 points, the seven is the value you use. Same goes for the y-axis.

Only the person who matches both numbers wins. Say the Seahawks lose 27-23. The victor of your Super Bowl Squares pool will be at seven, three on the box. 


So, Only the Person Who Gets the Final Score Right Wins? Booooo

That depends on how gregarious you want to be. Some Super Bowl Square games are winner-take-all events. Only the final score matters. Some divvy up the pot—either weighted to make later scores matter or split in quarters—and then have a winner at the end of each quarter.

The aforementioned rules still apply. If the score is 9-3 Seahawks at the end of the first quarter, the person at three, nine would win whatever the allotted pot was. If the score carries over to halftime, said person is a lucky duck and keeps winning.


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