Food Club for Amateur Foodies
Every answer you could possibly want for 'how do I food club??'
Well, some answers, anyway.
As you probably know, food club is a game whereby you bet on pirates eating. As with most things where you bet on something, it's a gambling game - but at least you can bet smartly! For people wanting to start making their own bets, this article is for you. If you're interested in following someone else's bets, I'll have some tips on how to help with that, too.
How do I know who is going to win?
But there are three factors that can help you make the smartest pick: odds, food adjustment, and pirate strength. If you look on the 'pirates' page while at food club, you can see that some pirates are considerably stronger than others, with higher win percentages.
Gooblah the Grarrl, for example, has a whopping 93 strength and 65% win rate. Trailing behind him are Scurvy Dan the Blade with 87 and 48% and Buck Cutlass with 89 and 44%. If you bet a lot, whether by your own means or someone else's, you'll probably see them in a lot of bets.
On the flip side, we have Stuff-a-Roo with 59 strength and Squire Venable with 61 - they both have a miserable 6% win rate.
You'll pick up on how each pirate tends to perform as time goes on - but in general, this means that given the same situation, any of the first three will crush the latter two.
Odds are those numbers by each pirate in 'place a bet'. The lower the number, the better a pirate's odds are - 2:1 is the best, and 13:1 is the worst. Gooblah, Dan, and Buck, as you might have guessed, are often low-odds pirates, and Stuff-a-Roo and Venable are often high-odds.
Odds are determined by a variety of factors, most notably a combination of a pirate's strength and his food adjustment. Food adjustments are something you have to work out yourself (or not - I'll talk later about betting without doing this), by calculating how many of his favourite foods a pirate is eating and how many of them he's allergic to.
A pirate with a high strength who tends to perform well with a decent adjustment is going to be a pretty strong contender to win his arena, whereas a pirate with a poor adjustment might struggle to win.
Okay, how do I figure out all of this?
By practicing! Food club is a long game - in the short term, it's probably going to be time-consuming and frustrating and perhaps not very profitable.
I've memorised each pirate's favourite foods and allergies and what each food is, but this comes with years and years of betting. I've gained a sort of intuition. And you will too, if you keep at it!
To start, you might find it handy to have a list or spreadsheet or whatever it is you like to use, for each of the foods ('courses' in the links) and what types they are (for example, Blueberry Tomato Blend is a fruit, a dairy, and a smoothie).
There are a couple of easy ones: slushies all have 'slush' in their names, and are only ever slushies. Same with Neggs - always called Neggs and never anything else.
Most foods are common sense. The things that sound gross are gross foods, pizzas are pizzas. Sometimes there are gross foods that are also pizzas.
You can click on a food in an arena for this information, but there are ten foods in each arena and five arenas. That's a lot of clicking - much easier to have everything displayed all at once, right?
You can also have another list for pirates - what his favourite foods are, what he's allergic to, perhaps his strength if you would find that helpful. Again, though, you can click on his name to learn all of this, and since there are only four pirates in an arena I never found it any easier to more difficult to cross-reference with a spreadsheet versus clicking.
Let's set up an arena of our own to try things out.
Hypothetical Arena has Scurvy Dan the Blade, Peg Leg Percival, Admiral Blackbeard, and Puffo the Waister competing. Their ten foods are as follows: Hotfish, Bubbling Blueberry Pizza, Strochal, Joint of Ham, Spicy Wings, Lemon Blitz, Asparagus Pie, Cinnamon Swirl, Ultimate Burger, and Tangy Tropic Slush.
After calculating the food adjustments, Dan has five of his favourite foods and two candies, which he's not so fond of, or a +3 adjustment. Percy has +0 (a neutral adjustment, with one spicy food and one smoothie, canceling each other out), Blackbeard has +2, and Puffo has +0.
The odds are might look something like Dan 2:1, Percy 7:1, Blackbeard 5:1, and Puffo 12:1.
If you're wondering why:
1. Dan, with the best adjustment and being the strongest pirate, will be the most likely to win.
2. Percy and Blackbeard are both what I call mid-tier pirates: middling strengths and somewhat low win percentages. They need pretty good adjustments to really compete, but they also need bad adjustments to be discounted.
3. Puffo is the weakest pirate in this arena, and one of the weakest pirates in the game. A neutral adjustment isn't enough to help him overcome this fact, especially not facing Dan's +3.
Let's consider another scenario. Same pirates, but instead, they're eating Strochal, Ultimate Burger, Hot Tyrannian Pepper, Rainborific Slush, Ice Chocolate Cake, Flaming Burnumup, Flaming Fire Faerie Pizza, Eye Candy, Fungi Pizza, and Wild Chocomato.
Suddenly, Dan isn't looking so hot. He has a -2 adjustment. Percy has +2, Blackbeard has +2, and Puffo has +3.
In this case, the odds might be more like Dan 5:1, Percy 3:1, Blackbeard 2:1, and Puffo 3:1.
Again, if you're wondering why:
1. While a -2 adjustment would knock most pirates back pretty badly, Dan's strong enough to fight it a little bit to be a mid-odds pirate instead of high.
2. Blackbeard, being the second-strongest pirate in the arena with a good adjustment, takes the place of the most likely to win, with Percy close behind him.
3. Puffo has the best adjustment. A +3 is pretty dang good for any pirate, and would be enough to put him in contention despite his weaknesses.
As you could probably guess, the first scenario is a far better one to be betting on. There's one really good, solid low-odds pirate, and the others are all mid- to high-odds. This is an arena I would be happy to bet on. The second scenario is an arena I would probably skip.
There is still a risk involved in betting that first scenario: I would focus heavily on Dan, of course, and maybe cover Blackbeard in a bet or two. Puffo I would definitely ignore.
But he could still win. That's the danger - and also why I like to do the adjustments. Sometimes they just don't match the odds.
Buck Cutlass, for example, will often still be a 2:1 or 3:1 with a -2 (or worse) adjustment. Sure, he's strong enough that a -1 wouldn't mean much, but any more than that and I would expect him to be at least a 4:1.
Or sometimes a pirate like Federismo Corvallio will have a +3 adjustment and somehow be a 7:1 pirate in his arena.
Both of these things are problematic. Without knowing the adjustments, I might very well bet on Buck heavily and ignore Federismo. If there's a decent pirate with a stronger adjustment in Buck's arena, he might topple my bets - same with a lower-odds pirate in Fed's arena that might have a more neutral adjustment.
This is a lot of work. What if I don't want to do that?
Food adjustments don't take long to calculate. In fact, I spend far less time doing that than I do figuring out whom to bet on and then actually making my bets, and the whole process usually takes less than thirty minutes.
But okay. Maybe you're really pressed for time, or don't think adjustments will matter much to you, or whatever else.
If you insist on not doing adjustments, a few things to keep in mind:
1. Bet as soon as possible. At time of writing, the gates open shortly after 3 PM NST, and it's a little later each day. The odds at the round's opening are the best indication of how the round will play out, free from the interference of bettors manipulating them (more on that later).
2. Be at least somewhat familiar with the pirates' behaviours. Whether this means following someone else's bets for a while or simply observing a few rounds, you don't want to go in blind. You might notice that a pirate you think is strong maybe doesn't win as often as he should, or a weaker pirate pulls off upsets kind of often. You can keep these observations in mind as you bet. For example, Stuff-a-Roo might be weak but if he has a +2 or better adjustment, he is often my mortal enemy, even if his odds are high.
3. Making bets with a variety of pirates is probably going to be the best way to go. The less informed you are about the goings-on behind the scenes, the more likely it is that a single pirate could tank all of your bets.
For this (and other bettors!), ideally there will be at least one arena that has a good 2:1 and the other three pirates at higher odds. You can use the 2:1 as a multiplier for betting on other arenas without taking up too many of your precious bets.
Betting without adjustments is going to take a bit more guesswork and intuition over time than it is otherwise. If you're a math or statistics prodigy, you might find it less daunting than I would. I don't know.
Wait, math? But I'm terrible at math!
Yeah, so am I. But while there are a lot of numbers involved in food club, you don't need to actually do any math. I bet mostly based on my gut feelings and instincts. The only math I care about is the math that the winnings calculator does for me.
Many bettors have a mathematically-based system, and/or like to puzzle out their chances of winning versus their chances of tanking.
I don't find that one way is any better than the other. You do you.
What's the deal with the odds?
As mentioned before, the odds will often reflect a combination of a pirate's strength and his adjustment. Also as mentioned, sometimes they don't, but I find this a little less common and a lot more troubling.
At opening, the odds are at their purest, best indication of how the round will play out. Over the course of the round, until the gate closes, the odds may shift.
Because of us.
More people betting on a certain pirate may make his odds better, and fewer people betting on a pirate may make his odds look worse. I've seen many threes become twos, and it's also not uncommon for a seven to go up to a nine or so.
This is why I don't like to wait very long before I bet. I don't want the betting patterns of others to sway my understanding of the round - it could look better than it did, in which case I'd bet more optimistically, or it could look worse, in which case I would take more precautions and bet more safely than I needed to.
Conversely, some people do like to wait. Maybe you like to watch the odds from time to time and use that to help you inform your bets. Maybe you're an odds-only bettor and want to see if a round starts looking a little better before you decide if you want to bet or not.
This is something you'll probably be able to figure out pretty quickly, if you like to wait or not, or you might not really care! That's cool too.
Something else to consider about the odds is that sometimes they're just awful, regardless of whether or not they match up with the adjustments well. I'll talk more about this in the next sections, but just know that sometimes it happens. Sometimes it happens a lot.
How do I use what I know?
Time to make your bets! Hooray!
If you're brand new to food club, here are some things you should know:
1. The amount of Neopoints you can bet is based on your account age. Older accounts can bet more, and therefore win or lose more. That doesn't mean it's not worth it for a new account, though! It also doesn't mean that if you're the owner of an older account, that you have to bet your max amount. If you're low on funds or the round is looking a little iffy but you want to bet anyway, you might feel more comfortable betting a smaller amount.
2. You can make up to ten bets. No more. I wouldn't suggest any fewer, either.
3. You can bet on a pirate more than once, mixing and matching with others. You can also bet on a variety of arenas across your bets, allowing for the possibility of 'stacking' your bets to maximise profits.
Let's say a Hypothetical Round has the following:
Arena A: Dan 2:1, Venable 9:1, Fairfax 13:1, Tailhook 7:1
Arena B: Gooblah 2:1, Ned 4:1, Stripey 5:1, Orvinn 10:1
Arena C: Edmund 8:1, Lucky 2:1, Buck 5:1, Puffo 13:1
Arena D: Sproggie 9:1, Bonnie 3:1, Crossblades 4:1, Blackbeard 3:1
Arena E: Franchisco 2:1, Federismo 3:1, Stuff-a-Roo 12:1, Percy 6:1
This is an okay round. Probably average. It's not awful, but there's only one arena that really looks promising - arena A. Every other arena has at least two pirates that I would want to cover, if possible, and that's without taking adjustments into account. For this exercise, let's just assume they follow the odds pretty well.
So Dan would be in most, if not all, of my bets. For arena B I'd focus on Gooblah with a few on Ned; arena C would be mostly Lucky and, if I had some spare bets, maybe Buck; arena D is too close to call and doesn't even have a single two, so I'd skip that; arena E is the Corvallio brothers all the way.
I would consider arena E to be the second-best one, so I'd pair Fran and Fed with Dan for quite a few bets:
Dan + Lucky + Fran
Dan + Lucky + Fed
Dan + Gooblah + Fran
Dan + Gooblah + Fed
Dan + Gooblah + Lucky
Dan + Ned + Lucky
These six bets are pretty easy to make - I'm covering my favourites, and I got in a safety on Ned like I wanted to. The last four are more up in the air. I could go riskier, focusing on my favourites more aggressively. I could use them to cover possible upsets. Or I could try to do both.
For a more aggressive set, I'd add the following:
Dan + Gooblah + Lucky + Fran
Dan + Gooblah + Lucky + Fed
Gooblah + Lucky + Fran
Gooblah + Lucky + Fed
As you can see, I chose two four-arena bets (generally quite risky, but they can be worth it in the right situations, especially when betting heavily on low-odds pirates) and then two bets that could stack with them and some other three-arenas.
To be a little safer, I'd use these instead:
Tailhook + Fran
Tailhook + Fed
Dan + Percy
Tailhook + Percy
Here, I covered Tailhook in arena A and Percy in arena E. I even paired them together in case they both pull off upsets, even though this is unlikely. It happens, though!
Doing a mix of both, I would probably use:
Gooblah + Lucky + Fran
Gooblah + Lucky + Fed
Tailhook + Fran
Tailhook + Fed
This way, I don't go crazy with Dan, who's in all my other bets, and even if Tailhook wins it could stack with another Dan-free bet. This doesn't cover Percy, but it would be a risk I'm willing to take. More often than not, that is the approach I will take: mostly focusing on the 'good' pirates, but trying to cover at least one likely upset.
You might decide you prefer to go risky all across the board (usually winning less often, but winning big when you do), bet very conservatively (small, more consistent wins), or somewhere in between.
Every single one of these is okay! Sometimes it might even depend on what kind of round it is.
You might have noticed that most of my bets were three-arena bets. For stacking bets, I find this the best way to go: even if you only bet four arenas, two of your bets could win, resulting in a minimum of 16:10, or 1.6 times your money back. If you bet across all five, this could be a result of 24:10, or 2.4 times your money back. Throw in a four-arena for the twos and you could add an additional 16:10!
But usually, at least one of your picks won't win. This is why five-arena bets rarely result in anything, even during excellent rounds, and why I at least like to keep four-arena bets to a minimum, although I really like making them.
Like I said earlier, though, your betting style will influence the kinds of bets you make. If you like making big, improbable bets, embrace the risk! If you like making sure that if one of your bets wins, you'll make a profit (say, not 8:10 or less), you might have a lot of four-arena bets. Conversely, if you like betting a little more safely, your bets might comprise mostly of two- and three-arena bets.
This is something that following other people can help you figure out. If you do follow someone else's bets, follow them for a while. Sometimes bettors hit rough patches and then they start winning like crazy again, and sometimes food club itself is really tough and a bettor who doesn't do so well with the average rounds wins big while everyone else is swimming in the tank.
Switching bettors as soon as your usual one loses is never a good idea. Losses are just part of the game, and you run the risk of that bettor winning again as you jump to someone who starts losing.
That goes for people who make their own bets, too: you're not going to win all the time! If you can't accept that, don't play gambling games.
Are there some rounds I should avoid?
The example I used in the previous section is about normal, but some days are just awful.
Here is a real round from not too long ago. The adjustments were as follows:
Shipwreck: Gooblah +4, Orvinn +1, Dan +6, Buck +0
Lagoon: Sproggie +3, Fed +0, Stuff-a-Roo -2, Puffo +2
Treasure Island: Lucky +1, Bonnie +1, Edmund +2, Tailhook -2
Hidden Cove: Fairfax +4, Stripey +0, Franchisco +0, Percy -1
Harpoon Harry's: Blackbeard +2, Crossblades +3, Venable -1, Ned -1
And the pirates I was considering betting on had the following odds:
Shipwreck: Gooblah 2:1, Dan 4:1
Lagoon: Fed 2:1, Sproggie 3:1, Puffo 3:1
Treasure Island: Edmund 2:1, Tailhook 4:1, Lucky 6:1, Bonnie 6:1
Hidden Cove: Franchisco 2:1, Fairfax 3:1, Percy 5:1
Harpoon Harry's: Ned 2:1, Blackbeard 3:1, Crossblades 7:1
As you can see, this is a lot of pirates. And there's not one arena where I was confident only betting on a single pirate, because the adjustments and the odds just didn't make sense together. Dan, with a better adjustment than Gooblah, and in fact the best adjustment of the round, a 4:1? Tailhook, with the worst adjustment of the round, also a 4:1? I was additionally bothered by the fact that Fairfax wasn't a 2:1, even if Fran is stronger than he is, because he had a really great adjustment.
And just, you know, almost everything else. I skipped this round.
It wasn't an impossible round. I know a few people who won very respectably, but for my betting style it was a nightmare, and I wasn't feeling adventurous or inspired enough to try it.
The takeaway here is this: you do not have to bet every single round. No matter how you like to bet, over the course of playing food club, you will undoubtedly come across a round that doesn't speak to you (unless to say 'I'm the worst!') from time to time.
Ideally, the best rounds will have at least two arenas with a strong 2:1 in the midst of high-odds pirates. Occasionally, there are rounds when every arena has a nice 2:1 - these are sometimes calls twosdays.
Obviously, your bets will probably load up on the 2:1s! It's usually still smart to cover an upset or two in case, though, because rarely will they all win.
I like the rounds when Gooblah and Dan are in separate arenas with weaker pirates around them, since I trust them the most and want them to do well so I can use them as multipliers. You might have your own favourite pirates that you feel this way about, and those will be good rounds for you!
When pirates that share a lot in common (same favourites, for example) are in an arena together, that spells trouble for me. I shudder to think of the outcome of an arena that has Gooblah, Dan, Franchisco, and Ned all in it.
How can I minimise some of the risk?
Mostly, just use your common sense.
Let's say I decided to ten-bet Gooblah. You're probably thinking 'that's pretty dicey, right?' Right. Even if I don't cover another pirate in his arena, it would be less risky to keep him off of a bet or two.
Other things to avoid if you want to play it safer:
1. Four- and five-arena bets. They're fun on occasion, but making them excessively probably means a lot of losses, unless you're psychic or something.
2. Heavy betting on weak pirates with high odds. Especially if you don't calculate adjustments, this can be dangerous. Once or twice to cover him as a potential upset if you're worried should be enough.
3. Betting your max amount on iffy days. If a round looks less-than-stellar but I still want to bet, that's what I'll do. 40k all in is still kind of a lot, but it's better than potentially losing 85k.
4. Betting on iffy days.
5. Jumping ship with a loss, especially if you're following someone else's bets. As explained earlier, no one's betting system or style will be 100% foolproof, but I can almost guarantee that you'll see a long-term profit!
Patience is the key, basically. You need to take some time to learn the ropes and how you like to play, since there are so many variables. It makes food club frustrating at times, but also kind of wonderful!
So now what?
You wait for the round to end and see if you won anything!
The 'collect winnings' page is where you go for that. A table much like 'current bets' can be seen here, with the round number, the bet that hit, and your winnings displayed. Hopefully you turned a profit, but if you don't see anything for the previous round, sorry. :( Better luck next time!
You can hold your winnings for seven days before they start to fall off. Unless you're going for a trophy, you might just want to collect every day to make sure you don't lose any of your winnings. Nothing worse than losing your hard-won (cough cough) gambling earnings!
If you are going for a trophy, you'll hold your winnings for a week and then collect it all. Your total will be your score on the scoreboard. As such, it's easiest to collect on the first of the month, when the scoreboards reset, but if you make it big in the middle of the month, it might be worth holding on for a few days and seeing what happens.
Unfortunately, the nature of food club does mean it's very difficult for young accounts to win a trophy in this game, since they can't bet as much.
That's pretty much it, my friend (or mortal enemy, but no hard feelings, Stuff-a-Roo).
If you still have questions or would like help with your betting, you can shoot me a Neomail, or you can ask on a food club thread on the boards! Premium's charter has a food club thread, as does the games chat. No one will bite, I promise.