Can I Train Myself To Take On More Risk?

I’m an extremely safe person in real life. I’m probably the only Asian person who doesn’t eat sushi because I cannot tolerate the dangers of consuming raw fish. I always get the same ice cream flavors because to deviate from cookies & cream is too risky. I drive at (or below) the speed limit.

Yet the irony is I mainly play tournaments rather than cash games. I believe our personalities are reflected in our DFS lineups. The reason why I’ve probably never taken down a GPP yet is because I don’t have the fortitude to roster a guy like Geronimo Allison in a Millionaire Maker.

I always like to review the winning lineups of the GPPs I play in and ask myself, “Would I have ever gotten there?” The answer many nights is, “No.” Let’s use a real life example. Recently, someone won the DraftKings NBA Four Point Play with a 0.4% owned Jodie Meeks and a 1.2% owned Kyle O’Quinn. I have no idea how he landed on this lineup (maybe he bought it off a lineup seller on Twitter). Even though it was only a $4 buy-in, which is basically the cost of a Starbucks coffee, I don’t think I’d ever have the guts to plug in Jodie Meeks. This guy did and came away with $50,000, enough to buy several Jodie Meeks jerseys.

Some people are born with a YOLO mindset and it works to their advantage in GPPs. And that’s my biggest fault as a tournament player. I can’t get myself to play someone so off the board like Jodie Meeks. My goal as a DFS player is to constantly evaluate myself and my processes, which led me to the question, “Can I train myself to take on more risk?” Can I change my mindset to get to a point where I could submit a lineup with a player like Meeks or Timofey Mozgov or Zaza Pachulia, all of whom have been in the winning lineups of the Four Point Play recently. This is important to me because baseball is just around the corner and baseball is the ultimate variance sport. Some random guy like Cameron Maybin or Andrew Benintendi is going to double dong when you least expect it, and I want to be there for it.

I’ve read that it takes 30 days to form a habit, so I’ve decided to spend the next 30 days in both real life and in DFS to look for opportunities that bring me out of my comfort zone. My hope is that I can start building up my tolerance for risk and work on my willingness to be more contrarian. Keep in mind that risk doesn’t mean doing something stupid or dangerous. I’m not going to run across the freeway or drink spoiled milk – that’s dumb. But maybe instead of cookies & cream, I spin the wheel at the ice cream store and eat whatever flavor it lands on. Maybe I try a piece of sushi and see what the fuss is all about. Maybe I take a different route into work, or order a different type of sandwich than I normally do at the deli. Maybe I build rosters with players listed as questionable in the late games after lineup lock, or roster players that no lineup optimizer would ever consider to be optimal. And in time, maybe I’ll be able to land on Jodie Meeks.

If this post resonates with you as someone who struggles with risk tolerance in DFS, join me in fighting the safety and security that plagues our lineup building. Maybe you too can take steps these next 30 days to stretch outside of your DFS comfort zone.

About the Author

  • Allan Lem (fathalpert)

  • Allan Lem (aka fathalpert) began playing fantasy sports in high school and transitioned to DFS in 2015. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Economics and lives in California with his wife and two kids. He dreams of winning a big tournament so he can try cashing one of those giant cardboard checks at his local bank.


  • Bschwarze325

    Hey Allan, great post! I too have found that there are nights where I review the winning NBA GPP lineups and I say to myself “I almost played that guy, but didn’t because why would I risk that?” – aka “I have no balls”. Maybe it’s because I don’t typically play a large amount so with the $10-40 I play I don’t want to risk just burning money when in reality I should be making those plays in the large field tournaments.. And I think that is really the biggest hurdle. I will join you in the challenge in taking more risks with my lineups when I do play and see how it goes! (But don’t take dumb risks, take calculated ones that actually have a chance to pay off). Thanks for the read!

  • fathalpert

    • Moderator

    • Blogger of the Month

    @bschwarze325 – Right on, thanks for the comment! I love your phrase, “calculated (risks)”. That’s exactly what I’m going for. Thank you for reading and good luck these next 30 days!

  • lynchmann

    I know how you feel Allan. If I based my entries on my ROI–thank you Rotogrinders DFS Analyzer!–I would only enter cash games and I would enter them a lot. But, like everyone else, I want a shot at a five, six or seven figure score.

    As I was reflecting on my GPP process recently, I remembered a great article I read a few yrs back about large multi-table poker tourneys. In it, the author likened great tournament players to great warriors in battle. In order to be great in battle, the warrior had to realize that by simply being on the battlefield he was very likely to die, come to grips with that and then attack the situation with absolute focus & effort. The poor warrior is concerned with “not dying”, and is rendered ineffective and tentative. His takeaway was that to succeed in large tourneys, you need to realize that even if you are making 100% optimal decisions at the table, you are–statistically speaking–likely already “dead” when you submit your entry fee.

    This may sound counter-intuitive, but when I remember this principle, it helps in two very tangible ways:

    1. It helps me to have the YOLO courage to pull the trigger on those low-owned plays that I really like but normally discard as not optimal.
    2. It helps me not to reach outside of my bankroll multi-entering in high dollar tourneys. If I realize that the lineup that gives me the best shot to take down a GPP is also far more likely to bust, I’m not going to invest a large chunk of BR there.

    So I have to constantly remind myself: Be CONSERVATIVE with GPP bankroll management, Be AGGRESSIVE with GPP lineup construction.

  • djmeado

    I know exactly where you are coming from with the thought “could I have ever gotten there”, I seem to spend quality time on a lineup that makes me say, “yeah I got this”, “this one feels like it”, only to see lineups with Jodie Meeks pulling down $50,000. I feel like I am getting closer to more risky (calculated) plays and starting to hit on value plays more often. The hunger to perfect the process is what really keeps me going. Great article.

  • djmeado

    @lynchmann said...

    So I have to constantly remind myself: Be CONSERVATIVE with GPP bankroll management, Be AGGRESSIVE with GPP lineup construction.

    Great thought!!! That is a really solid way to sum it up!!!

  • fathalpert

    • Moderator

    • Blogger of the Month

    @lynchmann – I love that analogy, thank you for sharing. I feel like I’m going to have that image of a warrior going to battle every time I enter a large-field GPP.

    @djmeado – Thank you for the feedback – hope you take down a GPP!

  • joeycis

    • Blogger of the Month

    Very interesting read with various interesting responses. I find myself drawn to cash games, but lately prefer the strategy involved with GPP fields. As a former low-stakes poker player, I appreciate the analogy to large-field tournaments. Whenever I enter a GPP (especially single-entry), I consider that money gone. I am learning (often the hard way) to limit my entries but always stick with my convictions after research.

  • P5

    Interesting read. I read you since NBA Preseason, a funny thing is that this NBA Season have killed me. I think I just don’t adapt to the not late-swap.

    By the matter of fact, my NBA preseason was more succesful than this NBA season .

    I’d keep reading :).

  • fathalpert

    • Moderator

    • Blogger of the Month

    @joeycis – I enjoy the GPP strategies too.

    @P5 – Thanks for reading my stuff. This regular season has been difficult for me too. No late swap definitely changes things and increases the risks when playing someone on the late slate.

  • coach232

    • Blogger of the Month

    Thank you for this blog. the past few slates I have been hit by the in game injury bug at a time when my lineups are in the money. Last Night was a prime example I was in a $10 dbl up in first place and CP3 goes down promptly sending me to 51st place after the game. Been really frustrating because I had the stones to roster Sergio which was a good play with McConnell out. I get the gist of what you are saying and I see all the time looking at winning GPP lineups the “scratch your head” play that take that lineup to first place. Lynchman’s analogy is spot on gonna employ it

  • bono6699

    Did you receive any speeding tickets in that 30 days?

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