Math with Bad Drawings

The Know-Nothing Oscar Pool

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You can play here until March 4th!

Backstory: Since 2009, I’ve had an annual Oscars wager with my friend Ryan. From 2009 to 2014, Ryan always won.

Ryan’s advantage? He is much smarter than I am. (Smart friends: I don’t recommend it.) He’d go to BetFair.com and identify the favorite in each category. (For close races, he’d supplement with a little extra research.) While Ryan leveraged the wisdom of the crowds, I’d fall back on my own personal favorites and erratic judgment. I’d lose because I couldn’t keep myself from “clever” (read: stupid) underdog picks.

Then, in 2015 I devised a new scoring system to neutralize Ryan’s advantage. An Oscar pool for know-nothings like me.

Picks would be scored based on their probability of winning. If prediction markets gave a film a 1-in-2 chance of winning, then its victory was worth 2 points. If they gave it a 1-in-15 chance of winning, then its victory was worth 15 points.

This system has a simple mathematical property: it equalizes expected value. So you can follow any probabilistic strategy you like. Pick all favorites. Pick all longshots. Pick the nominees whose names make the most appealing anagrams (“Lady Bird” –> “I Dry Bald”; Phantom Thread” –> “Top Hardhat Men”; “The Post” –> “Hot Step”; “Get Out” –> “Toe Tug”).

In the long run, it will all return the same average total: 24 points a year.

Now, it didn’t matter that Ryan is a neurosurgery resident, busy saving lives by mastering the inner workings of the most complex organ in existence. None of that did him any good. What an idiot!

Anyway, this year, I am excited to open up the game to you, with the KNOW-NOTHING OSCAR POOL.
Here are five compelling reasons why you should participate:

The ultimate visionary will receive a custom-drawn Math with Bad Drawings cartoon!

The lazy visionary will receive a custom-drawn Math with Bad Drawings cartoon that takes me no more than 10 minutes to draw!

And the obscure visionary will receive a custom-drawn Math with Bad Drawings cartoon that is deliberately hard to understand!

NOTE: The probabilities will shift over time, but rest assured that your expected value will always remain 24 points. You can go back and edit your answers as often as you like.

Here’s the link again! Good luck, visionary.

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