Let me start with the basics of Football Squares and how to play, and then into the different options and variations.
Football Squares, or Super Bowl Squares, is a fun game where everyone in your group can buy squares and then have a chance to win the collected money depending on the score of an actual football game. There’s variations of the game as well for extra winners or just for something different.
It’s a great game to play with people in your office (which is why it’s sometimes called an office pool), with your friends online, or for a football party. Everyone has a random chance to win and it lets everyone in the group participate in the excitement, not just fans rooting for their team.
The Basics of Football Squares
First, you need an exciting football game – it doesn’t have to be the Super Bowl, it can be another NFL game, a college game, or even a local high school game. Once you have the game date planned, print off your Football Squares and get people to buy the squares. Then based on the final score, or score from each quarter, the winning square or squares wins the money!
Football Squares is perfect for football parties or for office pools since everyone can be part of the fun without having to be the ultimate football fan. And since anyone playing could be a winner, everyone will be keeping an eye on the game. It’s always exciting to see who wins the pot but even better if you’re the one going home with the cash!
How To Play
All you really need is a piece of paper to draw out a 10 x 10 grid and people (with money) to play. But you probably don’t want to be handing around a paper with your hand-drawn grid on it. Luckily, there’s plenty of places to download and print professionally designed Football Squares – either simple to get the job done or more fancy to impress. There’s also the options to purchase Football Squares already printed off, or in poster format. You can also use an editable Football Squares template (PDF, Google Sheets or Excel) so you can type in each person playing. There’s also the option to play online. You can find each of these Football Squares on this site, and I’ll go into each of those types below.
Football Squares has a grid of 10 rows and 10 columns forming 100 squares total for players to buy. Across the top and side, there will be space to write in the numbers 0 through 9, to correspond with whatever the winning score or scores may be. Those scores won’t be written in until after all the squares have been filled. The Home team will get the top numbers while the Away team will get the side numbers. The payout amounts will usually be shown on the Football Squares as well.
Once you have your 10-square by 10-square grid, you’ll need to decide how much each square costs and how you want to split up the winnings, or pot. Gauge your group: if it’s an office pool, you’ll probably want to keep it cheap and friendly, like $1 or $2 a square. For a football party, especially with more football fanatics, you may want to do $5 or $10. Keep in mind that the larger the group, the few squares you want each player to purchase. Usually for the pot, most people will do a single payout for the final score or a payout each quarter, so there’s 4 winners instead, spreading the love a little more. My favorite payout, that’s simple even for anyone that’s been pounding back a few beers, is to have a payout each quarter: 20% of the pot for quarters 1, 2, and 3 and then a final payout of 40% for the final score.
Now that you’ve figured out your cost per square and payouts, you need to get people to buy squares! Some people will buy just one square but others may purchase a handful. If you have a large group, you may want to limit how many squares each person can buy. For each square that someone buys, they’ll choose an open square and write their name or initials in it. Make sure to get payment from each person playing since you may be paying for any IOU’s that never get paid.
Finally, after all the squares have been purchased, you can add the numbers across the top and side. For each of the 10 boxes across the top for the home team, you’ll enter numbers 0 through 9 but you should keep it random so nobody gets an advantage. Do the same for the away team along the side, adding numbers 0 – 9 in random order. The winner will be based on the last digits from each team’s score and where they intersect on the grid.
Now it’s game time, our teams are facing off against each other and it’s been a great first quarter. For the first quarter payout (if you’re doing quarter payouts), look at the game score at the end of the quarter. Take the last digit from the home team score and the last digit from the away team score. Where those two numbers meet, you have a winner! You can pay them now or wait until the end of the game. Do that for the 2nd quarter, 3rd quarter, and then for the final score. If you’re playing with a “Winner Takes All” payout, you’ll just have one winner for the final score.
You probably want an example so let’s do a quick one to show how it all works. We’ll go with last year’s Super Bowl with veteran Tom Brady and his Bucs vs up-and-coming Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs. We did an office pool with $2 squares and quarter payouts: 20%, 20%, 20%, and 40% for the final score. With $2 per square and 100 squares total, the payout was $200. That meant that the quarter payouts would be $40 each with the final payout at $80 (I bought 10 squares for $20).
On the Football Squares sheet, the Buccaneers were the home team so they got the top numbers on the grid while the Chiefs got the numbers on the side. After everyone grabbed their squares, my buddy Dave randomly picked the numbers (0-9) for both teams. Then the Super Bowl started.
- The score at the end of the first quarter was Bucs 7, Chiefs 3, so going down the “7” column and across the “3” row, XXX got the 1st quarter payout of $40.
- At the end of the first half (2nd quarter, the score was Bucs 21, Chiefs 6. Looking at the “1” column and the “6” row, XXX won the 2nd quarter payout of $40.
- The 3rd quarter score was Bucs 31, Chiefs 9 so with the column was again “1” (since we just look at the last digit) and the “9” row, making XXX $40 rich.
- There was no scoring in the 4th quarter so the final score ended with Buccaneers 31 to Chiefs 9. So not only did XXX win the 3rd quarter but also the final payout of $80!
Even though we all hated XX for hogging so much of the pot, we all had fun.
The “pot” is the total money from each purchased square. It all gets put together and depending on the rules that get set, will get paid out to winner or winners. There’s a lot of different ways of splitting the pot though, from simply one person getting it all to splitting it among halves or quarters, to other variants of the game.
- Winner Takes All: This is the simplest payout where the winning square gets the whole pot.
- Half Payouts and Quarter Payouts: To spread the wealth but still keep it simple, the pot can be split into each game half or each game quarter. For half pots, you can do a 50/50 pot but I prefer 40/60 where there’s a larger payout (60%) going to the final score. For quarter pots, similarly you can do 25/25/25/25 but I prefer 20/20/20/40.
- House Payout: Typically all the pot will go the winner but if the Football Squares is a fundraiser, 50% may go to the “house” as a donation. It’s a fun way to raise money for a good cause.
The standard size is a 10×10 grid, which gives you 100 squares. This is the simplest to understand since each row or column gets a number, from 0 to 9 to correspond with the last digit of each score.
However, 100 squares may be too many squares to sell if your group is smaller. In that case, you can go with a 5×5 grid that only has 25 squares to fill. For this grid setup, you would have 5 rows and 5 columns for each team with 2 numbers assigned to each. Then, if the winning score is either number in a row or column, that’s the winner. See below for an example.
Football Squares: Where To Get Your Grids
As mentioned above, there’s a lot of different ways to get Football Squares, and what’s right for your game depends on how you want to play.
Printable: Download and Print
This is the quickest and cheapest way to get your hands on a Football Squares grid. Simply download and print the football squares on your own printer. You can find the very best free printable Squares and paid printable Squares here on our website. Premium designed Football Squares are just a few dollars and you can also get them in poster size, which is perfect for football parties. Best of all, printing is quick and cheap. And if you waited until the last minute, this is probably your best choice!
Pre-Printed: Buy Online
If you can’t print off a poster-size version, or you want a reusable poster-sized Football Squares, you can buy them online. I’m sure some physical stores have them too but I just haven’t seen them. The most popular include a 3×2-foot dry erase poster and an 11×17-inch poster (better design) but we have a few other options on our Posters page.
PDF or Spreadsheet Templates
The template format has gotten a little more popular in recent years since it allows you to enter electronically all the people playing. It comes in file formats of PDF, Microsoft Excel, or Google Sheets but the idea is that you enter all the players in your group and then for each square you can select which player purchased that square. This is a great option if everyone in your group is online and you’re looking for an organized way to play. You can find more information on our Templates page.
Also more of an electronic play, the online version of Football Squares has each player log into the game to play with usually just their email address or clicking on an email invitation. This option will typically cost about $20/game but if you pay with the same group each year, you can save your players from the previous games. Also, just like the templates, you can select who purchased each square from a dropdown of available players. This option can be a great choice if you like to play Football Squares with more advanced options. You can find out more on our Online Squares page.
If you’re a Football Squares rookie, keep it simple. Go with a standard 10-by-10 grid, do either a 4-quarter or final score payout, and find a good version to download and print. Enjoy the game!