Monday, March 12, 2007

The Real Bracketology: How to Run a Successful March Madness Pool

Trust me when I tell you this....Running your March Madness pool can be one of the classic examples of "No good deed goes unpunished." That is, if you don't run it correctly. Follow my rules and guidance, and you'll be in the clear.

Lesson 1: Know your Audience

You want to re-create slamming your head against a brick wall? Try to explain to a 50-60 year old how to create a Yahoo or CBS Sportsline ID, find a private password protected league, and join it. Then make it worse by trying to teach him how to pick his teams, and make damn sure he doesn't forget to hit "Submit" (Multiple the frustration by 100 if you're talking about a FEMALE in this situation).

The moral of the story, know you audience and make it easier for the toughest entrants to deal with. Let the young population bitch rather than alienate the older generation. Participation is key for these, and you don't want to drive people away.

Young population? CBS/Yahoo/other Internet pool is a-ok.

Lesson 2: Don't require a PhD to determine points

a.k.a. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Escalate points by round (I feel as though they have to be doubled, but that's just me) but 1 point per right answer regardless of round is not the way to go.

Other possibilities:
"Upset pool:" 1 point per correct answer, bonus points for the difference between the seeds for an upset. 12 seed beats the 5 seed, 7 bonus points.

"Takeover pool:" 16 or 32 entrants, 2 or 4 teams, if the losing team covers the spread, the loser takes over the winning team. Winning team wins and covers, that player moves on. Its enjoyable to make fun of the person who has the 1 seed when the 1 seed beats the 16 seed by 30, but the spread was 30.5.

"Auction:" This is a wonderful pool for a bar. Promote the shit out of it, get people to show up, and auction off teams. You'll see some #1 seeds go for upwards of $500. Pay off something for each win to give a 10 seed some value, and have at it. Great way to watch the tournament.

"Fantasy Basketball:" Draft a team, 5 players, 10 players, whatever you want. Standard scoring system, and there you go.

Lesson 3: No such thing as too much information

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Give standings as often as possible, and invest a little time in telling people who has what team from the Sweet 16 on. Trust me, you'll do the work eventually, so why not do it when you're sitting down watching games a few beers deep.

Make sure to tell the pool what your picks are ahead of time. If/when you win, it'll be less questionable.

Lesson 4: Be a prick collecting money

Because if you don't, you'll be paying the winner out of your own pocket.

And there you have it. Do it well, and you'll be the hit of your office. Screw it up, and you're all done.



I saw a group of people that were conducting a tournament-related auction at a bar last night. Looks like a fun idea.

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