• Marcus Bender

The Money Collection Dilemma

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

My fellow Hockey Pool Commissioners, tell me if this sounds familiar.

It’s a month before the start of the season. You dutifully renew your League and send out email reminders. Only one person accepts the invitation. Echoing silence from everyone else. Thanks guys.

You send out another reminder. This time two people respond, and they are already asking about Rule Changes.

One of them wants to bring +/- back, and the other wants to eliminate PIMs. You gamely try to put it to a discussion. The discussion lasts two weeks and nearly causes three breakups. Finally, you put it to a vote.

Only two people vote.

Since only two people voted, you as Commissioner are forced to make a decision. So, you make the decision.

You announce your decision; and suddenly everyone jumps out of the woodwork and calls you a Dictator.

Here you are, just a friendly neighbourhood Hockey Pool Commissioner trying to organize some hockey fun; and next thing you know you’re Hitler.

Thanks guys.

Finally, someone asks about the money.

The Money Collection Dilemma

Ugh... The Money...

Why, oh why. Why do we put ourselves through this process every year?

One guy chimes in and says we should increase the Ante from $30 to $50.

Another guy says he lost his job and can’t afford to play if it’s too expensive.

A third guy is in Europe and has no way of sending you money.

And you remember last year when at least three of these guys never paid, and you spent the better part of your year chasing them down like deadbeats.

It happens every year.

You know it's going to happen this year as well.

Such is the life of a Hockey Pool Commissioner.

It may seem glamorous, but it is a thankless, brutish experience.

Most Hockey Pool Commissioners will agree: The biggest problem facing a Hockey Pool Commissioner is the Money Collection Dilemma.

  • How much do you charge?

  • How do you collect it?

  • What do you do when someone doesn’t pay you by the deadline?

I remember laying in bed sweating, unable to sleep at night, thinking about this impossible problem. The Money Collection Dilemma.

The problem in a nutshell is this:

There are many different motivations for participating in a Hockey Pool.

  • There are the purists, who don’t really care about the money.

  • There are the gamblers, who want to wager on everything.

  • There are the professionals who want to maximize their payout.

  • There are the crazed hockey fans who just want to drink beer and talk about the game.

  • And there are the friends who want to just hang out.

Everyone has a different motivation for participating in a Hockey Pool, and everyone wants something different from the experience.

Your job as Commissioner is to bring all of these parties together. But as you have learned, it is very difficult to get everyone to agree.

One night while I was tossing and turning, I kept thinking:

“Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could just contribute/bet whatever they want?”

I pondered this question for many years. I carried it with me like a long-suffering pilgrim. I traveled the proverbial lengths of the globe consulting the Experts and the Great Hockey Pool Oracles.

Then one day, like a shot from Stamkos’ Hammer, it hit me like a bolt of Lightning.

My friends, brave souls; my fellow underappreciated self-sacrificing Hockey Pool Commissioners. I have some good news. I may have great news.

I believe there might actually be a solution to our Money Collection Dilemma.

It turns out there is a way for everyone to contribute whichever amount they want, even playing for free.

I am very excited to share my system with you. I hope it will make your life easier.

I will now present to you what I call it the Flex Payment System or, The Marcrimizer.

Here’s how it works.

The Flex Payment System aka 'The Marcrimizer'

Here’s what you tell your fellow Poolies:

  1. You can contribute/bet however much you want.

  2. You can win as a percentage of what you bet.

  3. You can even play for Free if you want (you just can't win anything that way).

  4. The Deadline is Draft Time.

  5. If you haven't paid by Draft, you're playing for Free (and that's fine).

The more you contribute, the more you can win.

That's it. Easy as pie.

Now let's take a closer look at how this works.

The Math

A Poolie wins an amount from the Pot as a percentage of the Maximum Bet.

I will repeat that:

A Poolie wins an amount from the Pot as a percentage of the Maximum Bet.

For example: If you bet $50, and the Maximum Bet placed by the other Poolies is $100, you can win up to 50% of the Remaining Pot.

Another example: If you bet $30, and the Maximum Bet placed by the other Poolies is $120, you can win up to 25% of the Remaining Pot.

As a Mathematical Formula, it looks like this:

Formula: W = P(p/M)


P = Pot (or Remaining Pot)

M = Maximum Bet / Contribution

p = Poolie’s Individual Bet

W = Prize Winnings

This might seem a little daunting for right now. But it isn’t that hard. I have attached an Excel Spreadsheet to the bottom of this page to do all the math.

Further Explanation

This might need some more explanation. I will now give an illustration of how this works.

Hypothetical situation (12 Random Names A-L):

  • Allison - $100

  • Ben - $100

  • Chris - $50

  • David - $50

  • Egon -$50

  • Freddy -$50

  • George - $30

  • Harry - $30

  • Igor - $30

  • John - $10

  • Kristine - $0

  • Liam - $0

Total: $500

The System can work with any amount. But for our Hypothetical Situation here, I have chosen some fairly uniform numbers as a means of illustration.

There are three key pieces of information to make note of here:

  • The Pot stands at $500.

  • The Maximum Bet/Contribution is $100 (made by both Allison and Ben).

  • There are Two Poolies who didn't Bet. This is fine, this just means they can't win any money.


A Poolie wins an amount from the Pot as a percentage of the Maximum Bet.

Continuing on with our Hypothetical Situation above, at the end of the season, here are the Final Standings of the Pool:

1st – Egon

2nd – George

3rd – Liam

4th – David

5th – Allison

Egon wins the Pool! Congratulations Egon. How much does Egon win?

Here's what this looks like.

1st Place | Pot = $500

  • Egon Wins 1st.

  • Egon contributed $50 which is 50% of the Maximum Bet ($100).

  • Therefore, Egon wins 50% of the Pot.

  • Therefore, Egon wins $250.

Egon’s Winnings: $250

Remaining Pot: $250

2nd Place | Pot = $250 (This is the Pot we have left over)

  • George Wins 2nd

  • George contributed $30 which is 30% of the Maximum Bet ($100).

  • Therefore, George wins 30% of the Remaining Pot.

  • Therefore, George wins $75.

George’s Winnings: $75

Remaining Pot: $175

3rd Place | Pot = $175

  • Liam Wins 3rd

  • Liam contributed $0 which is 0% of the Maximum Bet ($100).

  • Therefore, Liam wins 0% of the Remaining Pot.

  • Therefore, Liam wins $0.

Liam’s Winnings: $0

Remaining Pot: $175

4th Place | Pot = $175

  • David Wins 4th

  • David contributed $50 which is 50% of the Maximum Bet ($100).

  • Therefore, David wins 50% of the Remaining Pot.

  • Therefore, David wins $87.50.

David’s Winnings: $87.50

Remaining Pot: $87.50

5th Place | Pot = $87.50

  • Allison Wins 5th

  • Allison contributed $100 which is 100% of the Maximum Bet ($100).

  • Therefore, Allison wins 100% of the Remaining Pot.

  • Therefore, Allison wins $87.50.

Allison’s Winnings: $87.50

Remaining Pot: $0

Now, you are finished!


I've been a Hockey Pool Commissioner for something like two decades.

During that time, when we had a uniform Ante to participate, I never once collected all of the payments. The most I had ever managed to collect were ten payments totalling $300. It was more frustrating than it was efficient.

Now check this out: The first time I used this system, I collected Payments from every single Poolie before Draft Time. And even more interestingly, our Pot significantly increased from $300 to $590.

In fact, even the Poolies who had been complaining the Entrance Fee was "too expensive" ended up wagering more when it was offered to them voluntarily.

This was truly a fascinating result.

The greatest thing for me as a Commissioner, is the onus shifted from me to the Poolie. Instead of me going around and chasing everyone down, they had to come to me to get their payments in time. Otherwise, they were playing for Free.

Only one Poolie that year chose to play for Free.

The second year we used this system we increased our Pot to over $700. We also had a payout for the Top 7 Participants (as the Maximum Bettor finished 7th).

In other words, it has been a huge success for our Pool. I no longer worry about the money. If they don't get their payment in on time, no problem. They just can't win anything.

Suddenly it switches from an obligation to an incentive.


There is one Drawback to this System which we have so far encountered.

That is, if the Maximum Bettor wins the Pool, he takes the entire Pot.

This was sort of disappointing when it happened the first time. Especially for Second Place (which was me, by half a freaking point). But, it is what it is.

I have suggested to my Pool that $100 should be the Maximum Bet. But it doesn't have to be. It can theoretically be any amount.

For this reason, it might get interesting to not announce how much the wagers are when they come it, but rather just announce to the group where the Pot currently sits.

I noticed when I sent out updates to my Group, "Guys, our Pot currently sits at $360", I started noticing larger and larger wagers.

In other words, the more people put into the Pot, the more everyone else wants to put into the Pot.

The only major drawback we've seen with this system is it seems to slightly favour the Maximum Bettor. But this doesn't have to be a big issue. If you do not announce the Maximum Bet until all bets are placed, it initiates a Game within the Game in terms of how much one wants to Bet.

Do you feel confident about your chances to win this Pool? If so, bet a lot and hope you get the Maximum Bet. If not, well maybe make sure you get in enough to at least collect some winnings if you manage to finish near the top of the table.

Or maybe you are a purist, and just want to win for the sake of Pride. That's also fine, you can play for free. You just can't win anything that way.


Here is the Downloadable Worksheet. All you have to do now is input the values.

Flex Hockey Pool Collection System aka T
Download • 17KB

I encourage you to play around with the values and try out different hypothetical situations. It's a fascinating system.


My Fellow Hockey Pool Commissioners, I know the pain. I know what you go through year after year. It is a thankless job which usually ends up in you getting compared to Hitler.

I hope my system can help. It has helped our Pool enormously. It may seem complicated at first glance, but it's actually very simple.

The real beauty of this System is now the onus for Pool Contribution is on the Poolie, not on the Commissioner. The Poolie is incentivized to get their Bet in on time. Otherwise, they are playing for free.

Thank you for reading this week's Fantasy Hockey Minute Column. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know! Will you try this System in your Pool this season?

If you are interested, please check out our Podcast and other Blog Entries. Thank you for stopping by!

"I not afraid of anything. I only afraid of Bears, but Bears in the forest."


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