Being geeks, we've run our share of office pools. It's one of those tasks that seems to end up with one of the guys in accounting who is good with numbers, someone in the mailroom who knows everyone, or the resident geek... who else would write a FORTRAN program to calculate the scores... Anyway, here's some things we've learned over the years...
Every year, after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, a large number of your pool participants will be out of the running for any prizes. Structuring your pool with bonus points or awarding more points for correct picks in the later rounds helps someone who really bombed out in the early rounds, catch-up in the later rounds... and helps keep interest going in the pool. But there's nothing like offering a "do-over" pool. Players still have their original pool entry, but for another participation fee, they can pick from the "Sweet 16", and have another chance at a prize. I've run the 2nd Chance Pool as a totally separate pool, as well as part of the original pool. When it is part of the original pool -- for a single fee, everyone who put in an entry in the 64 team tourney, can put in an entry in the 2nd Chance Pool. Part of the overall prize distribution includes something for the winner of the 2nd Chance pool.
The Madness Manager is the only PDA Pool Tracker/Manager software that lets you offer a 2nd Chance Pool.
Although pool pick information is stored in your PDA, DO NOT throw away the paper pick sheets from your pool participants. In the rare and unlikely event that there is a dispute with the pool results, you need to have documentation of a player's entry. The best documentation is the original copy of the player's entry, in their own handwriting, with their signature. A photocopy of this entry is retained by the player for their own use.
Here are some links to printable brackets for some of the tournaments that we preload on the Madness Manager:
If you and the other pool participants are willing to put up with some spam in the future, there are a few on-line pools offered free of charge. Because of the spam, I only run internet pools if the pool participants are located all over the place. National pools between groups of friends are not uncommon. Collection of participation fees is more difficult, but can be done well in advance, even before the brackets are announced -- since the entries are filled out through an internet site, and can be submitted by a player right up to tip-off in the first game (or pretty darn close), and participants can check how they are doing in the pool without bothering you. CBS Sports provides one of those freebie bracket services. Unfortunately, these web pools don't offer many of the pool management features of our software, and can't be used in a mobile situation -- well, you *could* go mobile if you've got a wireless enabled device, have a sports bar with a wireless hotspot, and a have a big, honkin' wad o'cash for the wireless connection fees. We don't have any of that (especially the wad o' cash), which is why we developed the Madness Manager software for our own use.
Set a firm cut-off time for submittal of entries and contributions to the pool. Also, if you have a pool prize, players who have not contributed to the pool by this time will have their entry tossed out of the pool. You'd be surprised at the number of sleezeballs who try to wait and see how their picks do before they pony up the dough. The Madness Manager makes it easy for the pool manager to see who has contributed, with handy contact information if 'rattling cages' becomes necessary.
I also recommend a rather low tech method of pool accounting in addition to the Madness Manager, I staple the player's pool contribution to their pool sheet. That way there is no question who paid and who didn't. Back to the documentation thing. At the end of the tourney, I just hand over the stack of pool sheets with the money attached to the winner... what's a little staple pulling when you've won the pot.
Organizing and administering an office pool can be a pain in the rear. Collecting the entries and fees is like herding cats. Our software makes pool management easier, but there's always at least one idiot out there, put on the earth to irritate you... Most of your pool participants know this, and are willing to let you retain a small part of the pool as an 'administration fee'. (Hint -- use it to buy this software)
Our software is for entertainment use only and intended to make managing and tracking your office pool easier. It is not to be used for illegal gambling purposes. Now go out there and hoop it up -- BABY!!