BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE POOLS
And then there were four. Let’s not kid ourselves: the Pools are in decline. The only Pools Company whose business has actually had any spells of year-on-year growth recently is Brittens, part owners of this site. They are one of four Pools Companies – Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters (now owned by Littlewoods) being the others. Back in February, 1948, there were TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-ONE!
Although the idea of pooling the stakes, then sharing them out amongst all the winners after the operator has kept a percentage or commission, is much older, the Pools Companies we know began before the war, with Littlewoods kicking off in February 1923.
What people mean now by “doing the pools” is doing the “TREBLE CHANCE”, a pool that first saw light of day on August 10th, 1946, when Vernons introduced it. It was called “Treble Chance” because each line gave you three chances of winning, the top dividend going to lines of eight draws that were all-correct, the second dividend going to lines with seven score-draws plus an away win, and the third dividend going to lines with seven draws plus a home win.
Although this particular game has gone through dozens of variations over the years – there have been six- and seven-match pools and up to seven dividends on Littlewoods at one stage - it’s now back closer to its origins, the main difference being that you have to line up eight score-draws (1-1, 2-2 etc) instead of any old draw.
A points system is used to make things easier to follow on weeks when there are less than eight score-draws. So at present, a score-draw = 3 points, a 0-0 draw or a VOID game = 2 points and home or away win = 1 point.
Because sports sub-editors these days are often neither pools punters nor gamblers, there is often a lot of confusion when fixture lists are printed between postponed and void games.
As a rule of thumb, if a game is moved from a Saturday forward to Friday or even earlier in the week it becomes a VOID (a common occurrence on weekends with a big international program), while if the game is postponed until Sunday (usually when it is being televised, or maybe one team is involved in Thursday night UEFA Cup action) or if it is called off because of the weather, then the POOLS PANEL decide the result. The Panel never adjudicate void games.
Vernons now run nothing but the Treble Chance, but with all the others you bet on homes or aways as well, or try to find just four draws of any type. These used to be known as the “Bread and Butter” pools, but are more generally called “RESULTS POOLS”. There used to be plenty of jam on this bread and butter. The record Four Aways dividend was paid to a Mr Reuben Levy of London back in 1937. He won £30,780 which in today’s money is over £1,000,000.
The Results Pools cannot be done on line, but those available on postal or Collector coupons are:
LITTLEWOODS – Four Draws, Nine Homes and Five Aways with a fixed 25p a line stake. You need to ask your collector for the special Results Pool coupons. Postal clients need to make a special request. All contact details at the end.
ZETTERS – Four Draws, Nine Homes, Six Aways with a minimum 10p-a-line stake . Also on offer, the Top Ten pool where you have to predict the results of (usually) the first ten matches on the coupon (min stake 5p).
BRITTENS – Four Draws, Five Aways, Eight Homes with a minimum 10p-a-line stake and maximum of £2 per line.
Dividend Declarations – be careful. Although the minimum stakes for Results Pools with Zetters and Brittens are 10p, they declare dividends to 25p a line to make them look bigger! If you have staked 10p on a winning line, you will therefore get only 40% of the money shown.
The Dividends are normally displayed on Teletext (Channel 3 – p522) from Wednesday lunchtimes. Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters then publish their Dividends in The Daily Mail on Thursdays and Brittens in the Racing and Football Outlook the following Tuesday. NEVER phone premium rate lines to find out the dividends. They are put on the various websites or you can phone Littlewoods or Vernons on Freephone (0800) numbers and find out that way.
POOLS v FIXED ODDS.
It’s important you understand the difference. If you do Individual Odds, Spread Betting or Asian Handicap betting, your “enemy” is the bookie’s employee who set the prices. “Beating the bookie” is a matter of beating him, and it is completely irrelevant to you what all their other customers do. Bet this way and you are going head-to-head with the layer – whose firm can lose a lot if he gets things badly wrong.
With POOLS betting of any description, you “enemy” is ALL THE OTHER PUNTERS. The Pools operators prefer there to be a small number of big winners, because administration is then easier and because publicising big wins entices more customers. In the heyday of Pools, Littlewoods would receive 250,000 extra coupons the following weekend after a big splash of publicity in the national papers. That’s why they paid celebrities £10,000-£30,000 to present the cheques!
But finally, the Pools Companies don’t care how many winners they have, because they cannot lose themselves whatever happens. They win the pools every week by collecting a commission before they pay a single winner.
The key point for punters is this: whatever the pool, if you want to scoop it by being the only winner you have to make sure that your entry is UNIQUE TO YOU.
Results Pools are only played by punters who think they know about football, so it is important that you include one or two selections that will be shock results if they come off. There are countless ways you can mix favourites, second favourites and outsiders for these pools, and you will find them in the Plans and Systems area of this site in due course. The importance of making your entry unique lies behind many of the ideas in the next section:
DO’s AND DON’Ts FOR THE TREBLE CHANCE
Many of the points made in “How to Cash In” at the head of our Lotto section apply here.
1. DON’T rely only on the birthday numbers 1-31 (the maximum days in the month). When the score-draws fall mainly against the lower numbers, the dividends are usually lower too.
2. DO take care to include batches of consecutive matches amongst your selections. Pin-sticking Pools players tend to leave gaps between all their selections, so when there are clusters of draws and gaps between them, dividends are usually higher. However, when there are two big clusters of score-draws with four or five in each, then dividends will be hit by those punters perming two groups of games for cover by a full perm
3. .DON’T rely only on form when picking games. Jackpots are usually won only by lines containing shock results. That’s why our Pools Extra feature has a few “numerological” features. Go by one of those for some of your selections and you are more likely to get the right mix. Try to use exactly the same numerological twist each week. In time it’s bound to catch a surprise draw or two.
4. DON’T do small full perms (any 8 from 10 or any 8 from 11), especially if you do the Pools by Standing Entry, using the same numbers every week. If you get just one void in an 8 from 10, 80% of the lines become incapable of scoring 24 points. People using these things can go for YEARS without a single win.
5. DO use a plan. They are much more fun and the charts for many are available on the site. However many score-draws there are, a column of 16 selections covered by a plan is 286 times more likely to catch eight score-draws than a single column of ten Xs. Of course, you still have to trust to luck that the plan will line them all up, but unlike perms, plans can do better than they are guaranteed to do.
6. DO, if possible, try to devise your entry so that it’s suited by the typical distribution of score-draws. See our Treble Chance charts. Both the plans of ours in the Top Ten all time winners list are block perms which do this. One of those big winners is a site subscriber, by the way! Systems of this kind will be on site shortly.
7. DO the Littlewoods Classic Value coupon (which we helped them to devise!) if you are one of their customers. You can do ANY registered plan on it and you get a 20% discount! Minimum stake £5 though. Call 0800 490 000 for coupons.
8. DON’T stop doing the Pools during the summer! Aussie soccer follows form more closely. There are fewer draws, but Pools Plans are more likely to win when there are six score-draws or less.
9. DO the Pools now, via the ClassicValue or Brittens links on our home page!
LITTLEWOODS POOLS, Liverpool L68 1AA. There’s no point in giving you full postal addresses because Pools Companies are not allowed to have customers on their premises by law – you can never just hand an entry in, for security reasons. Postal correspondence to a Pools Company using only their postcode will always reach them. Main No.: 0151 525 3670. General Helpline and Customer Services: 0800 500 000. Classic Value coupons: 0800 490 000. Collector Services (esp. if you miss your collector!) 0800 316 2486. Littlewoods Lotto Enquiry Line: 0800 731 7575. Website: www.ClassicValuePools.com which we devised for them. Over 1,000 plans can be used here and SoccerLotto subscribers are automatically entitled to an extra 10% discount off already discounted stakes..
VERNONS POOLS. Liverpool L67 1AA. Main No. 0151 525 3636. Customer Helpline: 0800 622 249. Website: www.vernons.co.uk - only 8 from 11s possible, though.
ZETTERS POOLS Liverpool L67 1BL. For coupons, call 0800 132 319. Claims line: 0870 166 0009. Website: www.zetters.co.uk. Only full perms can be done here, but at least this time there is a choice.
BRITTENS POOLS Leicester LE2 5LH. Main No. 01162 720605. Dividend details: 01162 720405 from Wednesdays at noon. Website: www.brittenspools.co.uk (which we devised for them!) but if you go via the link on our home page you’ll find out why we like them and why they are our partners. They are the friendliest firm in many ways, and theirs is the only football pools site where you can submit written instructions.