March madness printed bracket caught on fire

5 Tips to Running a Fantastic March Madness Pool

You're *this* close to running a perfect bracket pool this year!

Nicky G
Nicky G

There are a few perks that come with being a March Madness commissioner.



A certain air of dignity.

Whether you’re running a standard NCAA Tournament Pick’em, March Madness Survivor, or any number of pool types out there — when it’s all said and done, you call the shots.

Ain’t nothing better than that.

But, if you let all that power go to your head, you might create what seems like perfect bracket pool and still flop (or even, make lifelong enemies along the way).

So how do you create a March Madness bracket pool that's worth playing so you aren’t sitting in your there by yourself? How do you run a tight ship, but also give folks the latitude to enjoy themselves, from Selection Sunday all the way through the Final Four?

We've condensed our wisdom into 5 easy tips below.

1. Choose your March Madness game type wisely

Some folks are the classic NCAA Tournament pool chess player — they know more than how the pieces move. They can think long-game. They can balance all the stats like some sort of March Madness Bobby Fischer. These types tend to watch college basketball before Selection Sunday, but also tend to over-think and bust their brackets before the first weekend.

Other folks… are more like pool... Go Fish players.

They know the basic rules. Sorta. They just want to yell "For three!" and eat loaded nachos and dream of picking the perfect bracket. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.)

Some game types (like Head-to-Head or Squares) are just more inclusive than others (like Pick X or Survivor).

And in that way, other games require more savvy and strategic chess-type know-how. So, be sure to select game options that match the skill level of the team you plan to invite!

2. Actually set up your options before March Madness starts

If this is your first NCAA tournament running a pool... it's time to do a little due diligence on your game type.

After you’ve picked your ideal format, you’ll actually need to do a little research to make sure you understand how the season ahead is going to go. Check out your commissioner console so you know where to change your settings (there’s a little question mark icon beside each setting for more). If you have any questions, we have a Details page for every kind of pool and a really extensive FAQ so you don't have to waste your time and energy emailing us when the answer is right there.

After all, when somebody in your pool has a question — or, even more likely, a complaint — you’ll no doubt be the first person they come to whining, tears running down their little cheeks.

Trust us... take the time now so you can be prepared to answer these questions — or, in an ideal world — never have to answer them at all.

Ten minutes prepping for being a great pool host for March Madness now can end up in far less time during the tournament.

3. Use the laws of the jungle to your advantage.

Be aware: When people in your March Madness pool start realizing they aren’t going to win — when those NCAA brackets start bursting — some of your pool may start giving up.

We all know the type of person who completely loses steam after a few wrong moves. They stop making their picks. They stop talking trash on the message board. They just... disappear.

To combat the surrendering this March Madness, at the start of the pool, we suggest using everybody's survival mechanism against them.

Every commissioner should outline something that’ll happen to the person who is at the bottom of the pack at the end of the competition. Usually, this “prize” can be something moderately embarrassing, like making the member hold a sign up in the parking lot after work that says “I'm not good at March Madness pick'em."

This can be as effective a motivator as offering a nice price for the victor.

4. Talk trash often and vigorously.

As a March Madness commissioner, it’s likely you’ll serve as the social glue that holds your bracket community together.

We’ve found that the more active the message board, the more satisfied pool members tend to be by season’s end. Talking a little trash to your pool — especially if they all don’t know each other — can put them at ease, and put the focus, albeit briefly on you. Below, we’ve included some subjects that you can talk about should you need some trash-talk inspiration:

  • Their favorite team isn’t as good as your favorite team.
  • They don’t do pools very well and will most likely be the Biggest Loser at the end of the season.
  • They don’t smell very nice.
  • Their momma has bad breath.
  • Any “yo momma” joke really.

You get the picture. Have fun with it. Go after their mommas. Within reason. (Please note that if yo own momma is in the pool with you, you should take extra care to avoid talkin' smack on her mom — that's yo grandmomma we're talkin' about.)

5. Include lots of people!

At the end of the day, people hate being left out.

Got a spouse? Don't sleep on the couch... Invite them!

Does your spouse have a family? Don't make next Thanksgiving weirder than it has to be... Invite them!

Got a boss? It may be the only time you’ll be able to be their superior. Invite them! (Yes, even your boss. Find your share link here.)

Don't know if your coworker, next-door neighbor, fraternity pledge, or taekwondo partner is even a fan of playing March Madness? Ask them! Then, when they say "Duh, of course I fill out a bracket!" Invite them!

The last thing you want to do is leave anybody out. Including all the right people is the most important step of all, because at the end of the day, March Madness is all about having fun with those you care about… and beating them mercilessly so they cry a little and feel bad about themselves.

Just kidding!

But only sorta.

Good luck out there to all of you new March Madness commishes!

Game TypesMarch MadnessNCCAM

Nicky G

NCAA: WVU 🏀 & Michigan 🏈 NFL: Pats 🇺🇸 NBA: Spurs 🤠 NHL: Penguins 🐧 MLB: Orioles 😢 Now that I write this all out I finally understand my love-hate relationship with sports.