What is a Bracket?
In sports, a bracket refers to a space in a tournament tree which will be filled by winning teams as games play out and results are determined. This determines which teams will play each other in later rounds. For gamblers, bracket betting is a popular pastime – especially in North America. Players wager on their predictions for bracket filling, often in a betting pool with friends or nationally.
Many sports, including basketball, football and soccer, hold regular tournaments between national league teams or as part of an international cup contest. These tournaments start with a large number of entrants, with various match stages to eliminate teams and eventually determine a winner. Notable examples include the FIFA World Cup and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. In order to determine who will play each other n later stages, tournaments tend to use tree diagrams and brackets.
These brackets are filled as the contest progresses. For example, in a tournament semi-final where A, B, C and D all qualified, imagine A plays B (B wins) and C plays D (C wins). The final will be played between the winner of A versus B and the winner of C versus D – therefore, the semi-final brackets are filled by B and C. The champion will be the team which fills the bracket at the end of B versus C.
Betting on how these brackets will be filled is a popular pastime in North America. Often run as an informal betting pool, players put a fixed stake into a syndicate bet and select their predictions for filling brackets at any particular stage (or for every stage, as a form of spread bet or accumulator). Players who correctly predict the contest order and game results will win a share of the prize pot.