McJester Interview: SS Playboy Basketball Champ & Slam King
We have not seen someone dominate a Daily Fantasy sport harder than McJester has throttled this NBA season to date. His utter FanDuel Slam dominance had garnered him the reputation of a “king” by mid-February of this year. By analyzing his FanDuel Slam performances, one may estimate him to be up in the range of six-figures, just by crushing one Daily Fantasy contest on a regular basis. Then, the Playboy Mansion happened.
The StarStreet Playboy Mansion Basketball final boasted one of the toughest fields to date. If there were a Daily Fantasy Hall of Fame, it would be comprised of most of the finalists that were out in L.A. this past weekend…it was tough. So, what does McJester do? He wins it. Then he takes 2nd place. Oh, and he also finished 3rd. These top 3 finishes pocketed him a cool $82,500 in one-day. Yes, McJester wins allll the monies.
It’s hard to argue that McJester isn’t one of the best NBA Daily Fantasy players in the industry right now. This claim is backed by his current #1 ranking in the Tournament Player of the Year. We couldn’t pass up an opportunity to learn more about the legend, and were thrilled when McJester agreed to an interview with RotoGrinders. Here’s our conversation:
Wow, what a week?! How does if feel to be the StarStreet Playboy Basketball Champion (along with finishing 2nd and 3rd…)?
It feels amazing. A tremendous honor, no doubt.
In case our readers missed it, you’ve had an incredible NBA season. How many FanDuel Slam tournaments would you estimate you’ve won or finished Top 3 in so far this season?
Haha I honestly don’t know. This could be off, but I’d guess I’ve won it maybe 5-7 times? I know I’ve finished 2nd probably about a handful of other times, and third several times as well. Every time I win it I’m extremely grateful because it is always a gigantic challenge.
Also incredible is the story about how you got started playing, and your bankroll. For our readers that haven’t already heard, can you recap that story?
Oh man. It’s surreal whenever I reflect on it. I understand if people don’t believe it because I might not of believed it either. But two football seasons ago, I was essentially broke. My buddy and I would meet up on Sunday’s with whatever cash we could scrape up — usually around 100 bucks each — and try to take down a giant GPP on Fanduel. Since I’m pretty stubborn, we played separate tickets with each promising to kick the other back a percentage in the event that one of us somehow hit it big. Nothing could be more exciting. Based on a long history of sports handicapping, my buddy had been urging me to play at Fanduel because he thought it could showcase my (so-called) forecasting talent in a way that was much more profitable than what I’d done in the past. I thank him for that encouragement whenever I can. – I wound up making a deposit of $70, hit on a GPP early, and have never looked back.
Tell us a little bit about yourself outside of Daily Fantasy: How old are you? What did you used to do for a living? Where are you from? Anything else about McJester we should know?
I’m 29. I was born in Cleveland, but moved to L.A. when I was six. So basically I’m from L.A. but I have love for the Midwest. Before I discovered DFS, in no particular order, I dabbled in screenwriting, construction, NBA handicapping, coaching high school basketball, and working year round for a summer basketball camp. I specialized in borrowing money from friends, lol. In college, I studied social psychology, mass communications, and a lot of NLP [Neuro-linguistic programming] on my own. These tools certainly influence my DFS but I’d need a book to unravel it all.
Like many, I’ve sort of had an “eventful” past. When I was 18 I won over 40K at Del Mar Track on August 31st, 2002. The last race of the day, I put down a $48 superfecta that came back 31K and also hit a few other nice wagers on that race. I’ll save the story of how I pissed it all away during my Senior year of high school, but let’s just say my friends and I had a good time and I learned a some valuable life lessons early.
Is basketball your best fantasy sport, because you played a lot growing up?
I played basketball ever since I was real young and up through high school. I remember betting NBA parlays in 8th grade and that habit has yet to subside. So you could say I’ve been contemplating the sport for a long time. I also coached two Freshman teams when I was in my early twenties and I’ve just always been interested in basketball strategy.
Why the name “McJester”?
I wish I had a better story for this, but a real funny friend of mine from the old school had the AOL screen name “McJester” and I borrowed it because it fits the jokester part of my personality I value most. Sometimes I can get too serious about stuff in the moment but later on I frequently laugh at myself for letting silly stuff bother me. I’m kinda an idiot sometimes.
So, back to the big win: What was your mindset heading into the SS finals? How did you consider varying your 3 lineups? What did you think it was going to take to beat the uber-competitive field of finalists?
To the best of my ability, I tried to block out who my competition was I didn’t want it to alter my game. If that sounds nuts, you’re probably right, but I’ve known most of those guys well before they knew me. Too many legends in the field to get worked up about it. I had a real nice time Friday night, chatting it up and sipping a drink or ten with my friends and some of the competition. I finally went to bed at like 2:00 AM but that didn’t last too long. I woke up a few hours later in what my girlfriend would probably describe as a panic, but I call it DFS fever. I’m sick with it. I was freaking out that I hadn’t even seen what happened in the NBA that night, and I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my entries. I’d had a real big night at DraftKings Wednesday and I was still way too fat and happy. I told my girl I was unprepared and was going to lose the tournament, cursing myself as I turned on my laptop. She put her earplugs on and went back to sleep. I began to paint myself as a monumental underdog — which is the only mentality I take into any GPP. I thought about everyone who’s doubted me over the years and went to work.
After reviewing pretty much the entire field, I was only sure about a few things. l loved Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Toney Douglas, and Lebron James (oops). I know it sounds easy to say now, but the Pistons scared me. I was getting a queasy vibe about them. In reality, not being “sure” about the Pistons in any matchup is actually pretty normal. It just felt like one of those times that if I played them they’d flop and if I didn’t they’d burn me. In related news, I’m insane.
Without Beverly, CP3 was a virtual must play for me, especially because he was expensive enough that I could see people passing on him for cheaper options. I’m quite aware that the Sixers are horrible, but I just couldn’t get a feel for how that game was gonna go. In truth, the only game that was crystal clear to me was the Clippers @ Rockets. Could that game be anything but a high scoring slug fest where, in the end, CP3 makes a mockery of the Beverly-less backcourt? I said no. So I locked in on Paul. All three tickets, no regrets.
Playing CP3 was easy because I was pretty enthused about Toney Douglas, or at least as much as anyone can possibly be enthused about playing Toney Douglas. I’m not kidding. I even referred to him several times as “Toney D” on the shuttle. On the surface, Douglas technically only played 29 minutes the night before, but clues in the game log suggested Spoelstra valued him for the next night. For instance, with the game out of reach, Douglas was taken out and Norris Cole was left in. Thus, in Spoeltra’s mind, Douglas was an important part of his plan for the next day and thereby needed to be preserved. It seems like a minor, trivial detail, but that to me suggested 1) Spoeltra anticipated the Heat being depleted again the next day and 2) He’s realized Douglas is better than Cole, which (IMO) he is. Any way you slice it, I felt fairly confident Douglas would see 35+ minutes. On top of that, Ramon Sessions is a dream matchup for pretty much anyone, but particularly a quick guard who can shoot. With Sessions forced to play up on Douglas, Toney D could go around him whenever he wanted because, sadly, Ramon Sessions has some major hip issues and struggles drastically to move laterally. If you’re wondering why a guy that’s offensively as efficient as Sessions can’t get a starting job, begin with a study of his hips. Add this all up and I was (gulp) confidently locking up Toney D for 6k on all three of my lineups.
Every night is different and I almost never generalize, but I have two rules posted up on my wall. The first is to always play Durant when Westbrook is out and the second is to always play Lebron when Wade is out. I’ve just seen it too many times. A substantial usage bump for the best players in the world typically equates to fantasy gold regardless of matchup. Thus, I locked in Lebron on two of my lineups at 19K. He posted 20 fantasy points. Like I said, sometimes I’m kind of an idiot.
As for that Detroit team, I’m probably not alone when I say I’ve had a tough time figuring out the Pistons this year and the Sixers are also fairly unpredictable. Several people have asked me about Drummond and, what can I say, I just wasn’t that overwhelmed by a guy who I knew would be heavily owned and clearly carries a ton of risk considering his fouling habits along with his coach’s ultra-conservative approach. I’ve seen the downside too many times for me to get that excited about his upside. On top of that, I felt like similarly priced DeAndre Jordan had a sneaky good matchup considering Asik would be preoccupied with Griffin (weather he started on him or not) and Jordan would benefit from numerous CP3 penetrations. Furthermore, the beauty of Jordan “guarding” Asik is that Asik doesn’t get the ball much so foul trouble isn’t too concerning and it also allows Jordan to do what he does best: roam the paint and block shots. Jordan had six blocks.
Overall, I wasn’t naive to the obvious possibility of a big game from Drummond, but I felt real good about a big game from Jordan. The deciding factor was that Drummond couldn’t win me the tournament. Knowing Drummond would be heavily owned, the question was if I needed to play him in order not to lose. Crossing my fingers, I honestly didn’t think so. And I knew if Jordan had a big game and something didn’t go as planned with the Pistons, then Jordan was a guy who could win me the tournament.
Getting back to the original question, if I’d been imagining the embarrassment of fading a 50 point game from Drummond in the presence of all those DFS legends, I never would have done it. Extraordinary results are seldom achieved by playing it safe. I trusted myself and I’m glad it worked out. As always, I was just trying to invent tickets that created as many winning scenarios as possible. Things went very far from perfect, but with a fairly small field and a short slate sometimes it only takes a few good decisions to make it happen.
In addition to winning like $80,000 in a day, what was partying at the Playboy Mansion like? Any good stories from the mansion? What did you do to celebrate at the after-party?
Partying at the mansion is a special feeling. Winning at the mansion is beyond words, and to be honest it took some time before everything set in. Everyone wanted me to get all crazy but I kept telling people I’m not Tommy G! In truth, I’ve unfortunately never been Tommy G but I promise you I’ve had my share of debaucherous experiences. Having said that, you can see my girl right by my side in most of the pictures. She helped ensure I was on my best behavior all weekend, lol. After the mansion, I went to the after party and got to know some new friends a whole lot better. Looking back, it was truly amongst the best, most satisfying times of my life. At some point, I headed back to the hotel and slept really well. I’d been up for many hours straight at that point. I will mention that my buddy, a poker player who doubles as an LA nightlife connoisseur, showed some of the StarStreet guys a real nice time at a few after hours clubs. The only story I’ve heard so far is too radical to tell here, but I encourage anyone to ask JJ from Starstreet about his night. Overall, I can’t thank Jeremy and SS enough for putting this event on. It goes without saying, but it clearly separates them from the pack in terms of providing an insane bucket-list type experience for anyone that qualifies.
Editor’s Note: Want to follow in McJester’s footsteps? Use our links to join StarStreet, then try to qualify for the Playboy Mansion Baseball Finals
So everyone’s dying to know: What’s your secret sauce for NBA?
Haha, um, see two questions above. That is, there is no secret! For real, I keep hearing people are gonna “figure me out”. I’ll save you the time. I follow and review every game, every night and when it’s time to make decisions, I let my instinct and imagination take over. I have no formulas and I never go into it with a specific strategy. Every night is different. I access the field, and let the game come to me. Value, in all its forms, fluctuates on a nightly basis just like my style. Figuring out how I want to play it each night sometimes takes forever, but I love doing it. And, by the way, nothing fires me up more than people doubting me. Like everyone, I have my up and downs but whenever I’m on a losing streak, I have zero doubt that another run is just around the corner.
PS: If anyone has an algorithm that knows what’s going to happen on a nightly basis in the NBA please send it my way. I need some sleep!
You’re currently 1st in the RotoGrinders TPOY standings. Do you think you’ll be able to retain that ranking as MLB and NFL season unfold?
I really can’t say. I won’t start MLB until Basketball is completely done. Basketball gives me the best chance to be successful on any given night. I’ll miss out on plenty of big baseball tourneys, but at the end of the day, I’m playing fantasy sports for a living and I’ve got to respect that by making smart decisions. So I’ll predict an obvious drop off during baseball season and if somebody passes me I’ll tip my hat. At the very least, I should be in the hunt during football season and that’s good enough for me. Imagining all those football prize pools seriously gives me a jolt, which actually doesn’t help right now because it’s like 3:00AM.
What are your thoughts on multiple entry contests vs. single-entry contests? Some of you/FanDuel’s critics argue that you just pile in entries. I know the answer to this already, but what would you want to explain to those critics?Let me begin by stating that I suck at many things in life. I could blow your mind with some of my failures. I am the worst at too many things to count. However, with DFS, I’ve finally discovered something I’m pretty good at, which is why it rattles me some when people try to knock me down. I’ve won plenty of single entry tournaments, but I’m a multi-entry guy. There was a time when I could only afford a handful of entries. Did I cry about it when people with larger bankrolls won tournaments with more entries? No. I worked my ass off to get better and overcome the odds. Anybody with experience in DFS or a understanding of basic statistics understands what I do isn’t easy. To anyone that doesn’t get it, consider that on my best night in the Slam, I put 76 of 82 unique entries in the money. I’ve had similar results many times going back to last year. Well before this amazing week, I had turned 70 bucks into a very healthy living almost exclusively by playing GPP’s. If people think that was easy, by all means, I urge them to kiss my ass.
What is your single best memory of this NBA season (you can only pick one)?
There’s been a lot of moments, that’s for sure. Going on recent memory, I’d say when Chris Paul knocked down his first 3 pointer on the day of the mansion. As if the Rockets had any chance to stop his penetration in the first place, they now had to push up on his shot which pretty much meant he could do absolutely anything he wanted. It was shortly after that when somebody informed me that CP3 was only 20% owned. Considering I had three of those tickets, I told my friends right then that he could win me the tournament. That was fun.
Who are your favorite NBA Teams? Who is your favorite player?
I don’t have a favorite team. I’ll go out on a limb and predict the Clippers will win it all. With that in mind, I’d say my favorite player is Chris Paul. Russell Westbrook and James Harden jump into my mind as well just because there’s few things I enjoy more than watching those guys attack the hoop with unrelenting determination. Still, watching CP3 control the game with the ball in his hands gives me the most confident feeling. Except when I’m fading him. Then it feels like shit.
What does the rest of 2014 have in store for McJester?
Haha I really don’t know. I might do some traveling at some point. Maybe Europe or South America. My girlfriend wants to do to Dubai so that’s a possibility too. At the moment though, my focus is primarily on Friday and getting ready for the DFBBC at Fanduel.