Circa Survivor, Circa Million Offer Twist On NFL Betting

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It’s still more than 3.5 months until NFL betting really fires up, with the start of the regular season. That said, you can already wager on every Week 1 game. And while you can’t yet make selections in popular Vegas sportsbook NFL picks contests just yet — nor would you want to — there’s still news on that front in mid-May.

On Tuesday morning, Circa Sports announced its game plan for the upcoming season’s Circa Million and Circa Survivor contests. No surprise, the guaranteed prize pool is healthy, to say the least. checks into some of the key details.

Circa Survivor Still Status Quo (Sort Of)

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen hollers out signals during a 2021-22 regular-season game.
Image Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

For those familiar with survivor pools, Circa Survivor is as its name suggests. Contestants make one pick per week and cannot use the same team twice over the course of the season. And you’re out of the contest once a pick either loses or ties. There are 20 total picks to make, one for each of 18 weeks in the regular season, along with two additional “weeks” of picks: One game from the three-game Thanksgiving Day slate, and one game from the three-game Christmas Day schedule.

Entry fee is $1,000, and contestants can have up to six entries.

Last year, Circa Survivor had a $6 million guaranteed pool. There was also a $1 million bonus if the winner finished 20-0 — and five players did, splitting that bonus. With approximately 4,100 entrants in 2021, there was $1.9 million in overlay — the amount in which the guaranteed prize pool exceeded what was collected in entry fees.

But Circa Las Vegas owner Derek Stevens didn’t hesitate to put up the same guarantee this year: $6 million for Year 3 of Circa Survivor. Which means that Circa again needs 6,000 entrants to cover the guarantee.

“We hope there isn’t an overlay; we need to grow by about 50 percent for no overlay,” Stevens said.

Survivor Lifeline — Plus A Bonus Challenge

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) catches a touchdown pass over Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton (21) during the first quarter in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.
Image Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

However, there are a couple of very interesting tweaks to Circa Survivor for 2022-23. The first involves the NFL regular-season opener of Bills vs. Rams on Thursday, Sept. 8. If you submit the maximum six entries, and you use Bills-Rams on any or even all entries and lose, you can re-up to as many as six entries on Friday, Sept. 9.

But much more interesting is that entrants almost certainly won’t want to play the Rams in the season opener, because of a second twist. To qualify for the $1 million bonus, entrants cannot use last season’s Super Bowl participants — the Rams or the Bengals — at any point this season.

“The Week 1 Thursday option helps grow the contest,” Stevens said. “And the million-dollar [bonus] impacts some game theory. We are excited about these changes.”

Entrants will have to decide week-to-week whether to forego the Rams or Bengals. That gets challenging when either team has a perceived layup of a game this season. Such as Week 2, when the Rams host the Falcons, or Week 6, when L.A. hosts the Panthers. Likewise, the Bengals host the Falcons in Week 7 and Panthers in Week 9.

Circa Million Gets Big Boost

This is the fourth year of the Circa Sports Million contest. Each week of the 18-week NFL regular season, contestants make five plays against the spread. Last season, there was a $4 million guarantee, including $1 million to the winner. There were approximately 4,100 entries last season, just enough to cover the guaranteed prize pool. So there was no overlay, and the excess entry fees were rolled into available winnings. Which is another reason why season-long contests like Circa Million and Circa Survivor are appealing — there’s no rake, with all entry money going into the prize pool.

This season, the Circa Million guaranteed pot increases to $6 million, with the winner still guaranteed $1 million. But the end-of-season payout expands from the top 50 to the top 100 finishers. And the booby prize for the contestant who finishes dead last will now include the two worst finishers. The entrant with the worst record wins $100,000, while the second-worst finisher claims $50,000. (Important caveat: Contestants must submit picks every week to be eligible for worst-record prizes.)

Among other changes, the quarterly bonuses also expand, from the top three to the top five records achieved in a given quarter. Quarterly winnings range from first-place cash of $150,000 to fifth-place money of $10,000. There also will be a quarterly booby prize of $25,000 for the entrant with the worst record over that quarter. And again, qualifiers must make picks every week to be in the hunt for quarterly worst-record money.

“We should have an epic season of football contests,” Stevens said. “The couple tweaks we made help make the contests better. Paying out to the top 100 overall and top five per quarter will get more cashes.”

Stevens also noted that adding a runner-up prize for second-worst season record should broaden the contest’s appeal by creating more competition.