This is a terrible year for Oscar pools. See, everyone agrees on the actors (Bridges, Bullock, 'Nique, Waltz), which means there's not a lot of room to separate from the pack. Even Best Picture is widely considered to be Avatar, although I've noticed a trend toward picking The Hurt Locker. Either way, though, it's hard to win a pool if everybody picks the same thing.
So here's my theory. Let's say there's an 90% chance that all the favorites win. So if that's how you bet, you've got an 90% chance of being right. But then you have to divide your chances of actually winning by the number of people that also played all the favorites. Which, this year, is everyone. So if you and ten other people all picked the same favorites at the top, you've got a 90% chance ... of having a one-in-eleven chance of winning. And it'll come down to Live Action Short or something equally random.
So this year, I've decided to stake out the longshot vote. I realize there's a very good chance that Avatar or The Hurt Locker will win Best Picture. But the odds stink. So I went with Inglourious Basterds. I think it was a fantastic movie, and if people can get over their instinctive "Ew! Tarantino!" reaction, they might vote for him. And his acceptance speech would be amazing.
Plus, this way I get to root for my favorite movie of the year to win Best Picture. That doesn't happen when I'm forced to pick Crash or something, you know?