I am not a gambler, and I long ago stopped participating in the standard NCAA tournament pools. Too often, the team that I picked to win it all got knocked out early, and my chances of winning went up in smoke.
About 15 years ago my friends and I invented an alternative approach, called “The Buck Back,” that we think is a lot more fun.
The principles of The Buck Back are simple. Eight players play. Each player drafts eight teams, using a serpentine draft format, so each of the 64 teams in the field is drafted. Each player kicks in eight bucks. If your team wins a game, you win a buck — hence the name. If you end up with a game where two of your teams are playing each other, it is called a “buck lock.” (For the record, if you voluntarily draft a team that gives you a buck lock it is considered wussy and unsporting and is the object of derision.)
From these simple principles, a lot of hilarity results. Most of the participants have been playing for years; some of us have been playing since The Buck Back started. We keep careful statistics, and no one wants to break the futility record, which is $1. You end up watching games that you might not watch otherwise, because the team you drafted in the seventh round could win you a precious buck. Obviously, there really isn’t any significant money at stake. No one wins much or loses much. Instead, The Buck Back is all about bragging rights and some good-natured razzing.
We had this year’s draft the other day, and looking back on my draft I am not sure that I’ll be doing much bragging this year. With The Buck Back, however, you never know.