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How to Run an American Idol Office Pool
By Kevin Mchugh

Interested in American Idol and want to start your own office pool but are unsure how to get started? Running an American Idol pool in your office can really bring the troops together regardless of their interest level in the show. While playing in one is fun, starting your own American Idol Office Pool can be a daunting task.

Scoring Points in an American Idol Office Pool
The purpose of any office pool is to score the most points, and an American Idol Pool is no different. Every Office Pool requires scoring events that are compelling and contribute to the enjoyment of participation. For an American Idol Office Pool, one of the most popular methods of scoring involves the following three components:

1. Weekly Elimination

2. Bonus Questions

3. Overall Winner

The American Idol show begins with several weeks of auditions, so it is best to start your pool when the contestant number is down to the final 12 or even final 24. Before that point, it can be difficult to recognize the contestants or determine favorites.

Weekly Elimination
For any Office Pool it is critical to choose events where the results provide the greatest variety of outcomes. Choosing the winner of a football game, for example, provides only 2 outcomes and will only split your players into two groups. The more variety you find, the more enjoyable the pool is for everyone. In American Idol Pools, the most obvious scoring event is when contestants are eliminated. While it may seem there are still only two outcomes here, creating a dynamic scoring system can dramatically change the diversity in the results.

To achieve this, scoring can be handled in a variety of ways, including 1) static point value (e.g. 5 points for correctly guessing who is eliminated); 2) probability weighting (e.g. 5 points for obvious contestants, 10 points for less obvious, 15 points for contenders); or 3) player-controlled weighting (e.g. player puts 1 point on contestant A, 2 points on B, etc.)

Because of the limited number of events to score, a weighting system works best for American Idol Pools. One popular model involves assigning points to the contestant who your members think will be eliminated. This method provides for the most variability among competing members in the pool and keeps results interesting.

Bonus Questions
In addition to awarding points on elimination, some pools like to use bonus so that members feel an interaction with the show. The key to bonus questions is that they be about events that are integral to the American Idol television show and have a limited number of answers. For example:

* Who will be the first person to be declared safe ?

* Name a singer in the bottom three who doesn't go home?

* Will a boy or a girl go home tonight?

Setting point value for Bonus Questions can be difficult, so follow this simple rule of thumb: award more points for risk takers but not so much that weekly elimination points are made irrelevant.

Overall Winner
The final method of scoring points in an American Idol Pool is for correctly predicting the Overall Winner. Clearly, if someone is able to predict the overall winner while there are still 12 or even 24 contestants that should be worth a lot of points and it adds to the fun each week for everyone playing along.

Are the Points Balanced?
When setting up an American Idol Office Pool, the philosophy should center on increasing the enjoyment of the show, while keeping as many pool players interested in the competition as possible. Try not to hand out so many points for an overall pick that anyone that loses theirs drops out of the race. Don't set bonus question points to be so valuable that weekly elimination selections aren't worth the effort. Balance points to try to ensure the largest percentage of the membership remains interested and engaged.

Keeping Really Bad Predictors Interested
What about those people in the pool that after 2 weeks feel they have already fallen too far back to even bother? A strategy that works well to keep everyone interested is to award a small prize to the person who scores the least number of points. This way, halfway through the season when their overall winner pick is already out and they are too far behind to see a way to win, they can start intentionally picking poorly. It's harder than it looks!

Participating in an American Idol Office Pool can be a lot of fun, and running one doesn't have to be a burden. An American Idol Office Pool should be designed to enhance the experience of the show for fans and non-fans alike. Remember to create an engaging point system for relevant events, spice things up with bonus questions about the show, evaluate your point balance and find ways to keep most of the people interested throughout the whole season.

Jim Grosch & Kevin McHugh founders of have managed office pools for over 10 years before starting, a site developed to help with the laborious day-to-day tasks of managing popular office pools. Today, the site hosts American Idol Office Pools, Dancing with the Stars Office Pools, CBS Survivor Office Pools and College Football & NFL Office Pools.

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