How to Host an Oscars Betting Pool

Oscar Statues and Money

The Oscars are a great event for movie buffs who like seeing their favorite stars rewarded for their efforts. And the Oscars (a.k.a. Academy Awards) are even more fun to watch when you’re doing it with friends and/or co-workers.

Of course, most people don’t just get together and watch the Oscars for a social event. But you can turn this into an entertaining affair by hosting your own betting pool.

If you love the Oscars and want to create more excitement among friends, follow along as I discuss how to set up a betting pool. I’ll also cover why you should know your state gambling laws first, and if you should consider an Oscars fantasy draft instead.

Who Do You Hold an Oscars Betting Pool For?

I just described holding an Oscars betting events for your friends. But this isn’t the only group that you can to host an Oscars betting pool for.

Here are some ideas of different groups that might enjoy such an event:

  • Coworkers – Office betting pools are always popular. Such is the case with the Oscars if you have enough coworkers who love this awards show.
  • Customers – If you own a business, you might run a non-cash betting pool and offer prizes to whoever guesses the most Oscars winners.
  • Social Media Followers – Twitter is a great place to run pools like this because it gives you the ability to set up different options and have followers vote.
  • Friends – Again, the most exciting way to have an Oscars event is by watching it with your buddies.

Setting Up Your Oscars Betting Event

Invite Friends/Followers

The first step to having a successful Oscars betting pool is to make sure that you have participants. And this involves inviting your friends, coworkers, or social media followers to take part in the event.

This is easiest if you’re inviting friends and/or coworkers whose numbers and/or email addresses you already have. All you need to do in this case is send a mass text or email explaining the event, along with what people must do to take part.


If you’re hosting an Oscars betting pool on social media, you should gradually post about the event leading up to the day.

Your post should include when the Oscars take place, along with how people can join in your pool.

Assuming you at least have a few people who are interested, you should go on to the next steps in this guide.

Decide What Awards You Want in Your Pool

The Oscars currently gives out twenty-four awards. While it’s fun to think about including all of these categories in your pool, you also have to keep the average person in mind.

Most people taking part will get exhausted with the choices as they get toward the end of twenty-four categories. This is why you should consider leaving out awards like Best Makeup and Best Sound Mixing.

Instead, I only include five to ten of the most popular Academy Awards. Here are some examples:

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Animated Feature
  • Best Documentary Feature
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Director
  • Best Picture

Perhaps you have a group of friends who are all major Oscars fans. But if this isn’t the case, then trim your list down to the most popular awards.

This keeps the fun involved for casual fans and also makes it more likely that people will participate in your pool.

Create Ballots or Online Polls

Once you decide upon the categories, the next step is to make a ballot that people can use to vote.

If you’re totally clueless about how to do this, you can simply google “Oscars ballot” or “Oscars betting pool,” and then look in the images section to get an idea.

Luckily, it’s not hard to create these ballots after you’ve seen one. The main elements that you need include the categories and the boxes under each category where people can make their picks.

Assuming you want to get really fancy, you can also put pictures onto your ballots before printing them out. This is fun to do when you only have a few categories and plenty of ink in your printer cartridge.

When running an online poll, you simply need to know how to use the app or social media service you’re dealing with.

Earlier, I mentioned how Twitter is a good place to run such pools. This site offers an easy way to set up your categories and post pictures.

Here are the simple steps you need to post Oscars categories on Twitter:

  • 1 – Choose “Add Poll”
  • 2 – Enter each choice
  • 3 – Choose “Add Choice” to make more selections
  • 4 – Select how long you want the pool (poll) last

Please note that Twitter currently limits you to four choices per poll.

This is limiting when dealing with Academy Awards that have five choices. But you can solve this by simply including the four options who are most likely to win.

Also, note that you’ll need to string your categories out over the course of several tweets. I recommend announcing that this is how you’ll be doing the betting pool before sending the categories and choices.

Create a Scoring System

You should make a scoring system so that you can accurately determine the winner of the betting pool.

Most people who set up an Academy Awards betting pool weight the scores differently depending on the category. For example, Best Picture would offer more points than Best Adapted Screenplay because it’s a more popular category.

You can set up your scoring system however you like. But here’s an example, if you’re looking for some inspiration:

  • Best Picture and Best Director = 15 points
  • Best Actor and Best Actress = 10 points
  • Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress = 7 points
  • Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay = 5 points

One more thing worth mentioning here is that you can allow people to make two picks in each category. This gives everybody a better chance to win categories and creates a high-scoring betting pool.

But personally, I like to limit everybody to one choice. This is especially the case if you have a lot of people in your pool and want to create more separation.

Host the Party and Watch the Event

After you’ve sent your invitations, created ballots, and distributed them to the attendees, you’re finally ready to sit back and watch the Oscars.

This is a relaxing and fruitful step after all of your work. Of course, the work isn’t finished if you’re hosting a party at your home.

In this case, you’ll have to provide food and drinks, or at least ask each person to bring something to the party. You’ll also need to make sure that everybody has a comfortable place to sit.

Once you finalize all of these details, you can relax and enjoy the event.

Tally the Scores Afterward

One fun thing to do if you’re hosting a land-based Oscars party is to keep a scoreboard for each category. And you can display the score on a large board so that everybody can see the running tally.

This creates more excitement because everybody can see each other’s scores and try to guess who will win the event.

Once the Oscars are finished, you can add up the scores and announce the winner.

Award Prizes

When announcing your Academy Awards event, you should also list or tell people about the available prizes.


The most popular way to set up the prizes is by having everybody pay an entry fee.

The buy-in size depends on how serious you and your friends are about the Oscars and gambling in general. I recommend keeping the buy-in at anywhere from $10 to $100.

Another way to do this is by asking each of your friends or coworkers to donate a prize. You can then award these prizes to the winner or even the top three finishers.

When dealing with a larger pool, I offer awards to multiple positions, so more people feel like winners.

Setting Up Your Oscars Betting Pool Online

You can set up your event online if you’re holding on Oscars betting pool for friends or coworkers who live remotely.

I already described how you can do this using Twitter. But you can also take advantage of special apps like, Oscar Pools, and to create your event.

Let’s look at few details using RocketPool as an example:

  • You can create your Oscars pool, along with categories.
  • RocketPool uses $nollars instead of real money to reward participants.
  • You can send real prizes yourself to the winners.

The downside to hosting an Oscars pool online is that it robs you of watching the event with other people. But these online apps are still useful for anybody who wants to connect with remote friends, family, or coworkers and still have fun with the Academy Awards.

Consider an Oscars Fantasy Draft

If you’ve hosted Oscars betting events in the past and are looking for something different, then you can spice things up with a fantasy draft.

These are exciting because they give you a different format than the traditional drill of distributing ballots. Furthermore, you can create a more unpredictable scoring system, given that ballots don’t provide much drama, since the favorites usually win.

One more advantage of an Oscars fantasy draft is that you’re almost guaranteed to avoid a tie in the end.

Here’s a quick look at how you can set up a fantasy draft-style format for your Academy Awards event:

  • There are 121 nominees across the twenty-four categories.
  • Each Oscar nominee represents a draft pick.
  • Randomly assign your friends a draft order.
  • Use a “snake draft,” where the first selector picks last in the second round, first in the third round, and so on.
  • Create a board to keep track of who picks where, and which nominees have been drafted.
  • The draft is completed when all 121 nominees are off the board.
  • Every category awards the same amount of points for each winner.

Know the Gambling Laws for Your State/Country

Hosting an Oscars betting pool seems like a harmless affair. Nevertheless, you should know the gambling laws in your state and country.

Some states are more stringent than others when it comes to recreational betting, even if there’s no “house” taking a cut of the action.

I’ve never heard of anybody being led out of SmartTech Inc. in handcuffs because they held an office betting pool. But there are certain conditions that make doing so risky based on your state’s gambling laws.

Here are a few things to keep in mind with regard to the laws and your Oscars betting pool:

  • Size of entry fees – Avoid asking people to pony up a high buy-in (e.g., $1,000) in a state with strict recreational gambling laws.
  • Position in the company – You don’t want to be the office betting pool host if you’re in a high managerial position.
  • Taking a cut or selling food/drinks – Don’t try to profit off your Oscars betting event, because this puts you at a greater legal risk.
  • Online/social media pools – Only give out sweepstakes-style prizes, rather than cash, when hosting an online event.

Remember This One Big Advantage of Oscars Betting Pools

The easiest way to bet on the Oscars is by visiting an online sportsbook and placing your wagers. You can even do this with friends by making bets beforehand and getting together to watch the Academy Awards.

But before you go the easy route, keep in mind that hosting your own betting pool offers one undeniable advantage – there’s no house edge.

Internet sportsbooks take 10% “juice” from the losing side. This means that you need to win 52.4% of the time just to break even when betting on the Oscars online.

I personally don’t have a problem with this, especially when I think that I’ve got an inside track in a certain category. But you can’t beat hosting a betting pool where there’s no house edge.


Holding your own Academy Awards betting event is exciting from both a gambling and an entertainment perspective. You not only get to watch the world’s biggest movie awards, but you also have some action on the side.

Perhaps one of your friends already hosts an Oscars betting pool. But if they don’t, then you can use the steps outlined here to hold your own.

This isn’t too difficult once you get the hang of it. And you can even find ballots online to print off if you don’t want to spend time creating them yourself.

Petko Stoyanov
Get in touch with Petko
About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.