This article will hopefully explain the basic’s of DFS games and how to select the right ones for you to play.
The DFS Player Field
If you are a new player in Daily Fantasy Sports, you will notice in the game lobbies that you are eligible to play in beginner contests. These contests exclude players who have exceeded a relatively small threshold of play and have basically “ranked up”. If your goal is to optimize your return on investment, you should be playing in these contests instead of exhausting your eligibility on other contests with players that max enter and have been around the DFS world for a while.
The next level of games (Above Beginner) you should consider are those where the highest and most successful DFS players are either excluded or don’t play in for other reasons such as lower top payouts. Both DraftKings and Fanduel limit players in these lower buy-in contests. For Fanduel, contests under $3 don’t allow most high-volume players, while DraftKings doesn’t allow experienced players to enter contests under $5 unless they have a $25,000 prize pool. With this said, It is highly recommended that as a newer player, you stick to these small contests.
Cash games only pay out the top 50% of the field. They can consist of as little as 2 entries (known as head-to-head), to as big as tens of thousands of entries. Everybody who finishes in the top 50% gets paid the same amount, double their buy-in. Because of this, we don’t care about finishing first, we just want to make sure we get into the top half of the field and to do this, we need to make sure we pick a draft team with the highest floor possible. A floor is the lowest possible score we can expect from a player.
Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPP)
Tournament strategy is quite the opposite to that of cash games. Tournaments are usually very top heavy in the pay scale, meaning to get a good amount of winnings you need to finish in the top 1-5% of the field. To do this, you generally have to take some risks. Unlike in cash games where we are looking for players with high floors, in tournaments we need players with high ceilings. A high ceiling is the highest possible score we can expect from a player. Of course, as we want to score as highly as possible, we need to create a team with the highest ceiling as possible.
All players are limited to the lesser of 150 entries or 3% of total entries. This means as contests go past 5,000 entries, they will have decreasing proportions of max entry players. In addition, single-entry tournaments will usually have a smaller proportion of skilled players.
When deciding on what contests you should play, the first thing you should evaluate is your bankroll. Bankroll is the amount of money you have to enter DFS contests. If you want to stay around $20 for the day, then I would suggest you focus your attention to single entry gpp games as they will have a lower amount of people in the overall contest and the ownership percentages are lower for the players you are betting on due to the amount of DFS players in the field. For example, If you have picked Jared Goff as your QB for the NFL slate in a $5 single entry gpp with 700 other players, his ownership may be 7%, however if you would have picked the same QB in a $10 big gpp contest with 11,000 people, his ownership may have been triple that at around 21%, thus your odds of taking down first place and winning the big money drastically decreased.
Overlay occurs when guaranteed contests are about to start and don’t completely fill. For example, you have a 3,000 person guaranteed prize pool which pays out the top 1000 places. This yields a 33% shot at cashing, however if that 3,000 person contest only has 2,550 entries by lock, your chances of cashing increase to 39% as the contest will still pay out 1,000 contestants, yet now only has a pool of 2,550 to draw from. Always scroll through DraftKings Tournament lobby in the minutes leading up to the lock of the slate.
My overall advice is to play within the means of your bankroll. If you can only afford to play $10 per day, that is perfectly fine. Stick with small double up contests and maybe find a small single entry gpp to enter, just remember, the smaller the amount of people you are playing against, the better your chances to win! Once you have mastered the small contests and you have built your bankroll and want to try your hand at bigger gpp games for a bigger reward, I still recommend playing single entry gpp games just because your overall odds to win are better. Any day you can take $5 or $20 and turn it into $10 or $100 is a good day. My personal favorite contests are the $5 Single Entry GPP games and the $12 Single Entry Games. These usually have less than 500 people in them and if you can find even smaller ones with 200 people or less, PLAY IT!!
Don’t always set your sights on the big prizes, because chances are, if you play those contests, you will just be donating your hard earned money.