Online Hockey Pools: Are Organizations Optimizing Their Objectives?

After a month and a half of hibernation due to work overload, I am finally back. Yesterday afternoon was the 18th game the Montreal Canadiens played in this year NHL playoffs, their highest number since the memorable 1992-1993 season (18 years ago) when they won the Stanley Cup. NHL hockey playoffs, starting at the beginning of April, always represent an opportunity for me to apply my predictive skills through online hockey pools. Since I am generally estimating models using “hardcore” statistics methods, predicting some hockey players’ behaviors is not that much different, but it is as interesting.

Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks; certainly a must have for every pooler
Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks; certainly a must have for every pooler

Overall, I rank around the 90 percentile for more complicated pools (i.e. with a salary cap) and a little better than average for simple pools (i.e. pick your top 16 players for all playoffs), since the more complicated the less randomness and the more space for strategy. However, as an active user I noticed that of the three online hockey pools I am registered this spring, most of them fail at answering a simple question: How can they optimize the value of my registration?

Some results, for those who thought I might be lying about my rankings
Some results, for those who thought I might be lying about my rankings

Most of these pools are incorporated into websites without clearly defined objectives. However, each of these websites could benefit from clear business-oriented objectives for these online hockey pools. Following the well-known SOSTAC© developed by PR Smith, this short post is trying to define a simple marketing plan using web 1.0 tools to get the better off online hockey pool once a user is registered to the online hockey pool.

1. The Situation

• Some dudes in the organization thought it might be a good idea to add an online hockey pool to the website.

2. Overall objective

• Maximize revenues from the online hockey pool.

3. Strategy

• Get the attention of more poolers by sending timely updates through emails.

4. Tactics

• While users are registering to the online hockey pool, allow a visible option for email updates containing the following modalities: (1) Every day (2) once a week, (3) after each playoff round, (4) Never.
• Add targeted ads to these emails.

5. Action

• Following permission marketing principles, send your timely emails as users have previously asked.

6. Control:

• Track how much revenue is generated by these emails through: (1) advertising in emails and (2) advertising on the website.

Some extras

• Build a database from these users/poolers for the next year.
• Force users/poolers to discover other parts of the website.

Sounds simple and straightforward? Yes it is? But most organizations having an online hockey pool on their website don’t follow this simple plan!


All in all, purely from a hockey fan perspective, only participating to online hockey pools is an experience that I simply appreciate. However, in light of this post, I clearly think that most websites integrating online hockey pools could take advantage of this asset by strongly implementing simple online features such as the ones previously proposed. What do you think? Any other super cool ideas to add some icing on the cake?

Jean-Francois Belisle

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1 thought on “Online Hockey Pools: Are Organizations Optimizing Their Objectives?”

  1. The one thing about pools (on the pooler side) is that it heightens the pooler’s involvement with the teams. I am usually biased towards picking my favorite teams and then because I pick players in the pool from my favorite teams, I end up following and rooting for my players even more.

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