Bankroll Tips for GPP Players
No offense to cash game players, but let’s face it, GPPs are way more fun. How often do you get the chance to earn not just 10X, but perhaps even 1000x your buy-in in DFS? With millionaires crowned seemingly every month, everyone wants to hit it big in a GPP.
The reality though is the odds of anyone actually hitting it big in any single GPP are pretty slim, no matter how many entries they purchase. Even a DFS player that seems unstoppable will inevitably go through a cold streak. Playing fast and loose with your bankroll can turn result in a year with a few big wins turning into a break-even or losing year.
When it comes to bankroll advice, I don’t think there are any good hard and fast rules. I don’t subscribe to the ‘play X% of your bankroll in certain games’ line of reasoning, so I’m not going to provide that type of answer. Instead, I believe the optimal amount of entries a person should purchase depends on five factors (with the most important ones at top)
1. Your edge at the sport given past performance
2. The rake/overlay in the contest
3. The person’s financial situation outside of DFS
4. The payout structure of the contest
5. Tax Implications and Other Factors
Your Edge at the Sport
The first factor you should take into account when deciding how much of your bankroll to risk in a tournament is your past performance. While the old adage “past performance is not a guarantee of future performance” certainly applies, players that have proven to have a positive ROI at a sport should feel more confident in investing more money into the game.
If you keep accurate records, you should have a better statistical sense of your edge and variance over time. There’s a whole heck of a lot of variance at DFS, but luckily the seasons are long enough that you can log yourself a nice sample size of how you perform at each sport.
Rake/Overlay in the Contest
The amount of rake or possibly overlay in a contest is generally my #1 determinant in how much I will increase or decrease my play on any given day. In baseball/basketball, I’ll easily put in triple or more volume if there is overlay in a contest (and even more than that if the overlay is 10% or more). If the rake is especially high (especially if it’s in a sport I don’t feel as confident in), I’ll sit it out completely.
I think it’s fairly intuitive that you should enter more when there’s overlay, but you should structure your bankroll management so that you can maximize your play when there’s overlay compared to full rake. If you have $1000 in play at 13% your rake, the average player will lose $130 on that action over time. For the same $1000 at 7% overlay, you would win $70. That’s a 20% ROI difference, which comes out to $200 in expected value before any skill/variance is involved. You can see why you would want to have much more money in play when there’s overlay than when there isn’t.
The takeaway is to make sure you have plenty in the tank so that you can deploy it when there are advantageous situations. You don’t want to lock yourself into playing the same amount each day in the same contest if another contest comes along where there’s a great overlay opportunity. To be a top GPP player, you should be prepared to stretch your play on some days and reduce your entries on others.
Your Financial Situation Outside of DFS
It’s a lot easier to have a DFS bankroll if you have a real life bankroll. No two ways about it! If your income allows you to save a substantial amount of money each month, then going through a DFS losing streak won’t hurt as much since it likely won’t cause much financial distress.
Your outside income/bankroll won’t ever turn you into a winning player (or a lack of it won’t turn you into a losing player). However, it does determine how much variance you can handle and how much you can justify losing a year if you play primarily for recreation.
The Payout Structure of the Contest
A flatter payout structure generally isn’t more +EV for elite players, but it definitely helps a lot in the variance department. If a tournament pays out 20-25% of players with just 10% of the prize pool going to first, you can generally be assured that you will at least cash in some of your entries for a decent amount if you end up throwing in 10-20 plus entries into the tournament.
In contrast, a really top heavy tournament generally means you’re either going to win big or lose big. If first place gets 40-50% of the payout and/or if less than 10% of the entries receive any money, you have to realistically expect a good chance of receiving next to nothing back for your entries.
While you should always be prepared to lose your entire entry in any tournament, the payout structure combined with the rake are two factors I’ll look at if I decide to go big in a tournament. A tournament with a flat payout structure and some overlay is a GPP player’s dream, and you should definitely be ready and able to pile in a whole heck of a lot more entries into that tournament compared to a top-heavy, rake-heavy tournament.
Tax Implications and Other Factors
I’m going to lump a variety of other factors in the last category. For example, if you happen to be about even for the year at DFS, then you should be less likely to play for a lot towards the end of the year than if you have had a significant swing either way?
Why is that? Let’s say you are up $10,000 at DFS that year. Assuming a 30% tax rate, you end up paying $3K in taxes and end up winning $7K after taxes. If in that final week you end up winning an additional $5K, you would be up an additional $3500 after taxes. However, if you lost $5K, you’d deduct it off of your winnings so you’d really just be down $3500 after taxes. Either way, the risk/reward is the same whether you are up or down.
If you’re down for the year, the math ends up working the same way. If you’re down $10K from a site and won $5K in the final week, you’d be able to keep the whole $5K since you would still be a net loser for the year. Likewise, if you lost $5K the final week, you couldn’t deduct that off of your winning since you are already net down for the year.
It gets tricky if you’re around break even. If you are literally even for the year, you stand to really just win 70% of your winnings after taxes whereas you end up eating the whole loss if you lose.
This only really matters in mid-late December, if you’re breakeven, and if you play for a lot of money, but it’s just an example of a random factor that should be taken into account if you are primarily a GPP player.
I know a lot of readers were hoping I’d provide a handy calculation about what exact percentage of your bankroll you should enter in a tournament. While that works for some people, I tend to focus more on the factors that should lead to increased or decreased activity rather than a set of hard-fast rules about what exact percentage you should play.
The most important thing is that you find a system that works for you. My advice is to take into the account the factors I outlined so that you end up putting more of your money in situations that are +EV for you and reducing your exposure in high variance situations that are less likely to produce profitable results.