Underdog Pool 2012-13

Official Rules


All proceeds to charity


LINES:  Every week, sometime on Tuesday, my consultant (who created and runs the original underdog pool) or I will log onto USA Today's lines site (  This site has multiple lines, and so they'll more likely have something for us by Tuesday.  We will take the first spread given on the RIGHT, but NOT the opening line (the one on the far left).  If the far right line is a pick ’em, we’ll look to the next line to the left, then the one after that, etc., but not the opening line.


If there's something wrong with the USA Today site and we can't access it, we'll look for Yahoo or ESPN. If there's internet trouble or something, we'll check the morning newspaper on Wednesday.  The spreads will be published as soon as I have them, on  If I haven't posted lines by late Tuesday evening, feel free to send me a friendly reminder via e-mail at


We're going strictly with the number seen when logging in to look on Tuesday morning (or Tuesday afternoon, or whenever we look first), and that won't change under any circumstances.  So if, when we check on Tuesday, New England is favored by 17 over Oakland, and then Tom Brady and Bill Belichick come down with botulism from food served at a team function on Wednesday, the line will remain 17 in our pool even as it changes (or is removed) in Vegas.


NO LINES:  In the event that the USA Today site has a game with no line posted when we first look, we'll keep looking until Thursday.  If a line is posted before then, we will add it to the list with the first number we see.  If there's no line by the last time we check on Thursday, that game is not in play.  Pick ’em games are also not in play, but we will take a non-pick-’em line if any is available the first time that our oddsmaker sees any line.  Each week, you will pick one (and only one) underdog team on the upcoming weekend's NFL schedule that you think is going to win its game outright -- that is, straight up, without the benefit of any point spread. If you pick correctly, you win the number of points that your underdog team was favored to lose by. The player with the most points at the end of the season is the winner of the pool, and gets to designate the lion’s share of the entry fee pot to charity (see below).

Example 1: Cincinnati was favored to lose by 9 against Baltimore. Cincinnati in fact wins the game, 17-14. Players who picked Cincinnati get 9 points.

Example 2: Kansas City was favored to lose by 9 points against Dallas. Kansas City loses by 6 points, 26-20. Players who picked Kansas City get no points because Kansas City didn't win its game outright.

Do you swing for the fences with a prohibitive underdog?  Or do you try to get 1-3 easier points per week?  Your call.  The game goes for 20 weeks.


Your pick must be made by sending an e-mail message to me at  That’s the only way to get your pick registered for the week.


DEADLINE:  The deadline for getting your pick in is the scheduled kickoff time of the first game on Sunday.  Your pick must be received in my e-mail inbox by that time, or else it will not count.  (Players are urged to make their picks by 11 p.m. Pacific Time on Saturday, but the absolute deadline is the scheduled kickoff time of the first game on Sunday.)


If you're picking a Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday game, that pick has to be to me before that game kicks off.  I will reveal those picks on shortly after the game in question kicks off, but not before.

If you don't send in a pick by the deadline, you sit out the week.  There is no "default underdog."  No pick, no points.


On Saturday night/early Sunday morning before retiring, I will prepare a blog post with all picks that I have received at that time.  The blog post will ordinarily be programmed to go up on about an hour after the deadline has passed, but in no event before the deadline has passed.  When I get around to it on Sunday morning, after the deadline, I will update that blog post with picks that came in while I was asleep or otherwise occupied.


Except in the case of Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday games, I won’t reveal anyone’s picks, on my blog or otherwise, until the deadline has passed, and at that point other players’ picks can’t be added or changed.  It would probably be to one’s tactical advantage not to disclose one’s pick publicly (such as on the blog) much before the deadline, but how you play is up to you. 


SEASON:  The pool concludes at the close of the last game in the final week of the playoffs (not including the Super Bowl, of course, since there is only one game that week).

WHAT THE POOL IS ABOUT:  It's all for charity. If you win, you will get to direct most of the pool entry fees to your favorite charity, which must be a section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  Lesser top finishers will get to designate smaller (much smaller) portions of the pot to their favorite charities. All entry fees will be paid to one or more charities. (I'll throw an extra 1% to cover the time value of money.)

And so basically, what's in it for you is bragging rights and the chance to be a local hero for your favorite charitable cause.

ENTRY FEE: You enter by sending me $20. Check or money order only, please. E-mail me here and I'll shoot you my snail mail address. The absolute deadline for my receipt of your payment is 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday, September 12.

You can play the first week and pay the second week, so long as I receive your payment before 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday the 12th.  If you’re later than that with the dough, none of your earlier picks (including Week 1) will count.  If you’re late, you’ll start the game the week after I receive your check or money order.

PRIVACY:  I will be posting everyone's picks and the standings of the players every week on the blog. Please be sure to let me know how you wish to be identified in those postings. Any work-safe nickname will do. If I don't hear otherwise, I'll use your first name, and if there is more than one player with the same first name, I'll use your last initial as well.

If any of this is unreadable or unclear, let me know and I'll give it another shot.

PRIZES:  We have 42 entries in the game, for a charity pot of $840. It will be split as follows:

First prize: $475 to player's favorite charity
Second prize: $150 to player's favorite charity
Third prize: $100 to player's favorite charity
Fourth prize: $70 to player's favorite charity
Fifth prize: $45 to player's favorite charity

All charities designated must be entities recognized as tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations.

We also have a generous sponsor who will add $500 to the pot, but on the condition that her match go only to charities whose primary function is to provide "food, school, or medicine." If all five top finishers designate charities that fit within that description, the combined prizes would be as follows:

First prize: $760 to charity
Second prize: $240 to charity
Third prize: $160 to charity
Fourth prize: $110 to charity
Fifth prize: $70 to charity

If only some of the winners' charities meet the "food, school, or medicine" description, the $500 will be reshuffled among the players whose charities do fit that bill.  For example, if the second prize winner wants her $150 base prize to go to the George Bush Presidential Library foundation, but all the rest designate “food, school, or medicine” charities, the combined prizes would be as follows:

First prize: $820 to charity
Second prize: $150 to charity
Third prize: $170 to charity
Fourth prize: $120 to charity
Fifth prize: $80 to charity

We’ll resolve any calls about eligibility for the match before asking players to finalize their charity designations.  In all, $1,340 will go to charities as a result of the game this year.

All proceeds to charity


8-28-12, revised 9-18-12