Naturally, I've gone back to look at finished bets to gather stats. It looks like ones with low initial bets ($10 - $25) and few players (5 - 30) pay out the best at the end. Higher initial bets/larger pools of players (hence bigger pots) are likely more motivating for people, so they're more inclined to win (this is my theory, anyway), and winning that way actually gets you less money in the end (around $2 - $10 once you deduct your initial bid), where the smaller pots payout more ($17 - $30 on average, sometimes more), likely because they were started by people wanting to get their friends involved, and their friends didn't tough it out.
ANYWAY. I know I can lose the weight and maximizing my chances at earning the most amount of money is a really good motivator for me. This is how I started losing weight the last time, actually. Our office was doing a "Biggest Loser" sort of deal, where everyone playing put $5 into the pot and whoever won the most got it all.
I was like, "Pffft, EASY MONEY." I honestly didn't intend to stick with weight loss, I just wanted the money, and honey, I know how to drop a bunch of weight quickly enough to win one month's worth of the game: Cut out sugar as much as possible (and don't replace it with "sugar free" garbage and artificial sweeteners).
It was really funny watching the other player's faces in the break room when I made myself huge peanut butter sandwiches and salads with gobs of high-calorie, zero sugar dressing. I actually had one lady argue with me that I was going to gain weight with the amount of dressing I put on my salad. I just smiled.
And won. I'm pretty sure I got $100 and everyone was floored.
Of course, after that, everyone around the office kept asking about how my weight loss was going, and I wanted to lose more so I could feel better in my hoop, but I knew I probably didn't stand a good chance at winning the competition again (you lose the most in the first month and then it levels out).
But now I know that I CAN lose weight steadily over a long period of time by counting calories and being active, so that's my plan for the diet bets. It's much easier to win them because you aren't trying to beat EVERYONE, you're just trying to reach your goal (and hope no one else does, if you're in it for the money, which I totally am...I mean, I'm definitely in it for the weight loss, too, but money motivates me better than anything else when it comes to that). And I know I can reach my goals.
ANYWAY, long post is long, TL;DR, I plan on making a lot of money this year! :)