Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ask GSN: How do I dominate my hockey pool?

It's that time of year again - bidness time! And by bidness, I mean dominating your opponents in hockey pools and winning large piles of "cizzy". In fact, we received a letter asking us exactly that:
Dear GSN,

I love reading you guys and I think you're hockey gurus, can you teach me how to dominate my hockey pool?
Yes. Here are some guidelines to dominate your way to victory.

  1. Join a pool with of blowhards who brag a lot and are basically lazy. The louder, more obnoxious they are, the less likely they are to know anything about hockey. Watch the quiet ones! Also, fear newbies. Newbies often win, even when they don't know anything. I dominated my pool the first year a joined a bunch of guys who were talking it up.
  2. Don't take pity on the nice people who respect your genius. The urge is strong to help those who aren't shooting their mouth off at a hockey pool draft. This includes people like your less-hockey-knowledgable significant other. Don't give these people tips - they will end up beating you. Don't take pity on people who are unprepared at a draft! Your second choice for rookie of the year will end up being the guy that wins while your pick is an epic failure.
  3. BE PREPARED. Seriously, 95% of people are lazy. Including hockey fans. If you are prepared beforehand, you can own these people. Most hockey pool online sites like Yahoo Fantasy Hockey and Officepools.com have tools that you can use to rank players from last year according to the scoring rules for your pool this year. Make use of these lists. People often don't know about them! And for heaven's sake, don't tell anyone. (I'm fundamentally breaking this rule by posting, but I am desperate for your admiration.)
  4. Look for guys that were (abnormally) injured last year. These are never on anybody's lists and can make a killing if they are generally a reliable, healthy performer. I made a killing by taking Brendan Morrow as my enforcer last year when he had a bad injury this year before. This year, look at a guy like Horcoff. (uck. stupid oilers). That said...
  5. Don't pick really injury-prone guys. Especially if your pool doesn't have trades/free agents. I'm talking about guys like Forsberg and Havlat. You are asking for it by picking these guys. It's rarely worth the risk, even late in the draft. Slow and steady wins the pool.
  6. Pick up key goalies and defencemen early in the draft. While everyone else is going to be freaking out about Crosby, Ovechkin, Thornton, Iginla, etc. the fact is that there are a lot of forwards in the league. If you have a relatively small number of people/not too many picks, there will always be good forwards available. The same cannot be said for blue chip defencemen (Lidstrom, Chara, Phaneuf) and goalies (Brodeur, Luongo, Nabokov). Once you get past the very small A-list on defence and goal, there is a steep drop off. Not so much for forwards. This hold true in pools with and without trades - with trades, you can always pickup some hot forward that nobody expected to be this good (Mike Richards, Patrick Kane, etc).
  7. In a pool with trades/free agents, you can win by sheer brute force. Read the hockey news websites (cough*GSN*cough), pick up guys that are hot. Even pick up guys from teams that play more than other teams in a given week if your pool allows for that. It may be worth having a couple of spots on your rosters dedicated to churning the hottest player through there. However if you fall upon a guy that's really lightning it up and it's not just a streak, hold on! This is what happened to me with Kane last year. Free agents are more valuable than trades - people rarely want to trade with you unless it's a huge blockbuster that actually benefits/harms both parties equally.
OK, with these 7 tips, you should be on your way to fame and fortune. Send us a cut of your earnings via PayPal. Good luck!

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