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Posted - 04/13/2006 :  14:26:33  Show Profile
Contributed by Harvey Rose:

I usually do alright in my playoff hockey pools; Top 5 or so is common for me. But up until the last couple years I had never really had a formula. I've played hockey my whole life, and watched the NHL faithfully since I was a boy so admittedly, I have some knowledge of the game but then again so do the guys I pool with. I always went with my gut and chose players from all over the place. If it was a big name, I was all over it! Sure, each year I got a little smarter and picked from teams that I thought would get farther and naturally that brought a little more success, but not the ultimate prize, 1st place. And more important than winning all the beer and wings I could inhale were the pool winner's bragging rights! Oh ya, there's nothing finer than being crowned the King among your buddies for the summer, even if they tell you it was "Pure Luck!" Remember, unlike the regular season, you get to keep this crown for the ENTIRE SUMMER! Of course I had never experienced that first hand, since I had never won a hockey pool before, until recently. Keep in mind, winning your pool will likely not bring you back in favor with your wife/girlfriend. Her 2 months of sacrifice will likely need more than a plate of wings to appease. Don't say that I didn't warn you.

First things first, I didn't find this formula out on the web, or even a sporting show or tabloid although I'm sure it is available through those avenues. I, of course, owe this knowledge to all the guys that I've pooled with throughout the years. All their tips and tricks eventually sunk in (unfortunately too slowly).

This may be old news for all you hockey pool veterans. I don't claim to me a guru, but hey, this stuff makes sense to me. You new-comers may find this interesting and some of you vets may grab a tip or two. I have based my playoff hockey pool theory on a few assumptions.

1) This is for regular straight pools, not drafts, although to some extent it applies to the latter as well.
2) You are picking at least 16 or more players deep in your fantasy hockey league. We'll say 20 since that was what my winning pool was based on.
3) No fancy pool variables like penalty minutes, goalie wins and shut outs, plus minus etc. This is straight goals and assists. A basic, pure-points pool.
Of course the NHL playoffs start off with 16 teams ready to battle for Lord Stanley's Cup. Your objective is simple; be the guy with the most points. If you follow these key points you have a chance at being that guy. But then again, "dumb luck" also has a chance. At the very least it will give you a fighting chance in a murky sea of pool sharks. Here we go:

Key #1: It's the first round. Look at the 8 match-ups and choose what teams you think will make it to the second round. Now select 1 player from each of those teams. You've used up 8 of your 20 picks

Key #2: Look at the 8 remaining match-ups and choose who you think will defeat their opponent and advance to the 3rd round, the semi finals. Now select 1 player from each of those teams. You've used up 4 more of your 20 picks. 12 are gone and 8 remain.

Key #3: Well you've probably guessed, we do it all over again for the finals! By examining the 4 remaining teams, choose the winners of those two best of 7 series. Now here is where we change it up slightly, select 2 players from each of them, leaving you with 4 picks remaining. But you say, "if I think these 2 teams are going to make it to the final round then why don't I just choose 80% of my players from them?" Well, what if you're wrong? And you likely will be at least half wrong. By choosing players from all these teams you are mitigating your losses. Basically you are hedging your bets. And anyone in the stock market will tell you that that is the safe way to go. Be aggressive but be smart. After all, look at the Detroit Red Wings. Very few of us poolies picked them to be defeated early in the last two playoffs. Upsets happen, yes, but upsets across the board are rare so this system offers you some protection.

Key #4: What do you do with the 4 stragglers? Well you use these 4 remaining picks and spread them amongst any team you like. Teams ARE NOT created equal, some have a few more goal scorers than others. You've chosen the Senators and the Devils to go far in the East, for example. The New Jersey Devils are not known as a high scoring team but the Ottawa Senators are; you may pick another Senator. Likewise you may choose an extra Dallas player in the West but go light on Calgary since they are not known as an offensive team. As a general rule of thumb for your extra picks you may want to avoid the teams that you think will drop out in the first round but who knows, they may have a superstar who, if they make it to the 2nd round, can rack up a few bonus points. My point is use your last 4 picks wisely because all things being equal, these guys could make or break your playoff hockey pool season.

Key #5: Some things to keep in mind:

Don't make your pick until all the playoff teams are settled. Sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how often I've heard of people trying to select from eliminated teams.
Look at last playoff seasons stats as well as the regular season. Some guys are super-performers in the playoffs.
Watch for injuries. Is one of your picks coming off an injury recently. He may not be up to snuff for the long, intense playoff season. Also, is one of your pick's line mates out for the start or all of the playoffs. Your pick may not produce without his key counterpart.
Well that's it. Pretty simple stuff. Some common sense, some skill, and some knowledge are what it takes to win. This system, although not fool proof, has all of the above. Throw in a little good luck and you might be taunting your pals and serving them their pride all summer long! Thanks for reading this, good luck with your pool and above all enjoy the game, after all, it's just Hockey.

We'll keep adding office pool tips as we move forward. Drop us an email with your hockey pool tips today and we might post them here.

Have an opinion on Harvey's article? Let us know. Just hit reply below and post your thoughts. Anything goes...but keep it clean.
**************************** is your online hockey community. We're always looking for sharp volunteer writers. If you feel that you'd like to contribute articles on a regular basis drop us an email.

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Posted - 04/09/2007 :  15:06:43
Safe is great for picking stocks and investing, but safe will land you smack dab in the middle in a playoff pool. The gamblers will always beat the people who pick 'safely' in playoff pools.
You can't spread your eggs into more than 2 baskets if you intend to be a winner. More times than not, you will end up near the bottom, but if you gamble on the right team and they get even into the semi's, you have a great shot at winning. That is a lot better than picking from a bunch of teams and guarateeing that you won't win.
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