What's the maths behind a dream FA Cup draw?

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1. The luck of the draw

This year 736 teams entered the FA Cup, almost 90% of them non-league, all dreaming of beating the big boys to lift the trophy at Wembley in May. To do that they must go through several key draws that decide who they will face in the next round, and whether they will play at home or away. This luck of the draw adds a special thrill to the Cup competition, and can also mean huge paydays for the smaller clubs in gate receipts and TV money. So how does the FA Cup draw work, and what are the chances of a dream draw?

2. How big is the FA Cup competition?

Click or tap on the hand and drag the arrow up and down to see how 737 clubs from across England and Wales were whittled down, round by round, in 2013-14.

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3. FA Cup draw live: the balls of destiny

Since Victorian days when slips of paper were drawn out of a top hat covered with a handkerchief, to the current long-standing tradition of numbered balls taken from a velvet bag, the draw has been a crucial FA Cup fixture, deciding who plays who and where. Each team in a round is given a number, and then the numbered balls are drawn randomly in pairs to decide who plays who, with the first one drawn playing at home. The draw was first broadcast live on BBC radio before World War Two, and televised from the 1950s. Here we revisit some historic moments.

4. What are the chances?

Click or tap on the FA badge, or balls 11, 16, 64 and 80, to see Robbie Savage and Rachel Riley explain the chances of a dream FA Cup draw and more about the probability of grabbing a great tie.

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5. What are the odds of 11 home draws in a row?

Between 1949 and 1953 Luton Town were drawn at home in the FA Cup 11 times in a row. What is the probability? Click or tap on the hand and drag the arrow across to find out the chances of getting various numbers of home draws in a row.

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In each draw you have a one in two chance - a probability of a 1/2 or 50% - of being drawn at home. It is equivalent to flipping a coin and getting heads. But the chance of 11 home draws in a row is like all 11 players flipping heads one after each other - it halves each time, from 1/2, to 1/4, to 1/8 etc.