Surviving Week 1
What an interesting year 2010 was. I lost in Week 2 with Dallas, even though I thought Green Bay was far more likely to win that week. Why did I do it? You can check out my reasoning in detail here (both in the article and the comments). The shorter version is there are but two variables to consider if you want to *win* Survivor: (1) How likely a team is to win that week; and (2) What payout in terms of expected pool equity does a win with that team provide.
When we start the year, our pool equity (assuming the commissioner doesn't take a vig for himself) is equal to our entry fee. We pay our $100 in a 100-person pool, and we own a 1/100th share of $10,000. As the season goes on, and people die off, our equity grows. When there are 50 people left, for example, our share is 1/50th of $10,000 which is $200.
But people do not die off in our pools linearly or uniformly. Some weeks hardly anyone perishes, and others take down substantial portions of the pool. As such our equity can go from $100 to $120 dollars from Week 1 to Week 2, but it could go from $200 to $1000 dollars from Week 6 to Week 7, if 40 of the 50 remaining survivors lose.
Unfortunately, great rewards also come with risk. To get that five-fold jump in equity, you had to avoid the team that took down 80 percent of your pool. And typically, a team like that is going to be the biggest favorite remaining on the board. Hence the only way to surf that wave, so to speak, is to take a team that's a lesser favorite, and therefore more likely to lose that week. Otherwise, if you only take the team most likely to win (and other people are doing the same thing), then you will have the greatest chance of surviving a long time, but your equity will grow at a glacial pace, and you will have to win more weeks and go further to win the entire pool.
In years where pools go 17 weeks, typically the entrant who takes the biggest favorite every week will win it (or split it with several other people). But in years where the pool ends in Week 9 (and this happens often), the person who went against the grain will be left standing when massive upsets knock out the majority. At the season's onset, we really have no idea what kind of year it'll be - a favorite-heavy one like 2009, or a short-season where carnage is everywhere. All we can do is recognize that uncertainty and give ourselves the best chance to win overall. The way to do that is to consider likelihood of winning each week, and amount of expected equity growth should we advance to the next round.
As such, I am going to rank the teams EXACTLY as I did last season - in terms of win likelihood, multiplied by payout. That it did not fare well last year in no way shakes my faith in its efficacy as the best method, assuming *winning* is your ultimate goal. If your goal is to get entertainment from hanging around longer, regardless of how much your pool equity grows each week, then my method is NOT the best. It is only the best at winning the entire pool. My method presumes there is no difference between losing in Week 2 or Week 10, so long as you get $0 for both outcomes.
For those of you who simply want to last as long as possible regardless of the expected equity, you can still benefit from this article as every week, I list the team most likely to win, irrespective of the payout. Just pick that team and ignore the rest. But just know that I will not be doing that.
Okay, that out of the way - on to this week's picks:
|Team||Opponent||% Picked*||Vegas ML**||Vegas Odds|