How a new player built a five-figure bankroll in months: Tips for players that are just starting out (Part II)
Hello again RG Community! Thank you all for the comments that you left for my previous blog post. It is nice to hear feedback from others. This Part II blog will go more in depth about how I built my bankroll, and it will cover a few tips/tricks that I picked up along the way that I hope you can use to build your bankrolls. What worked for me may not work for everyone, but my goal is for every reader to find something that would help their specific situation. I hope my experience and advice is helpful for some of the new players. I realize that I am still a rather new player since I have only been at this for two months, so I don’t want to sound too preachy. I just want other new players to benefit from things that I wish I knew when I first started out.
I believe that the two most important things for new players is to learn how to be profitable at DFS, and to slowly build your bankrolls (and have fun while doing so, but if you are winning, it is automatically fun :). Having healthy bankrolls allows you to survive the swings and variance of DFS without having to redeposit. One thing that I will have to admit right away is that in order for me to reach the five-figure profit mark in two months, I did not follow proper bankroll management. There were a few times when I used a large portion of my bankroll on one slate (not recommended), and I will explain later on why I did that, and why I thought it was +EV at the time.
When I started playing a couple months ago, I played only MLB contests, since that is the only sport that I would consider myself as being “very knowledgeable.” However, I didn’t know about the Beginner’s contests at DraftKings so I was sort of thrown into the fire playing against a lot of high volume players and some pros. I learned very quickly to stay away from the multi-entry double ups, and played as many large field 50/50s that were available. I was still able to turn a nice profit grinding the small stakes cash games during the last two months of the MLB season. I ended up with an ROI of 9% over approximately $25k in MLB contest entry fees.
Once the MLB season ended, I still wanted to play DFS, but I didn’t want to wait until next spring for the new MLB season to start. I started looking into DFS strategies for NFL, NBA, and NHL by reading about the DFS strategy behind these sports in the RG articles that are available to everyone. Then, I read some helpful blogposts that pertained to each of these sports, and also scanned the RG forums. While scanning through the forums, I learned of the Beginner’s contests that are offered at DraftKings, and decided to try to use these contests to boost my bankroll in these new sports that I have never played before. Using the MLB profit that I built up, my goal was to at least break-even until MLB starts again in the spring.
HOW TO FULLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BEGINNERS LEAGUES: Not surprisingly, my highest win-rate and ROI came from the Beginner’s Leagues. Unfortunately, every player is restricted to only 50 contests per sport before the player is not considered “Beginner Eligible.” As a result, I believe it is imperative to maximize the value of these contests as much as possible. The one main difference you will notice in these Beginner’s contests is that you will not normally see pros or high volume players (HVPs) in these contests. I did notice a couple of HVPs in my contests, but I talk more about that later.
It is important to note that even if you played in non-Beginners contests, those contests count towards your 50 contest allotment for that sport. Also, it is important to note that the limit is 50 contests, not 50 entries. So if you enter a GPP or multi-entry double-up with multiple entries, that contest only counts as one contest. If you are unsure how many contests you have played for a specific sport, you can download your play history in an excel form (My Contests, History, Download Entry History), and sort it by sport. Note: Each entry in a multi-entry contest is listed as a separate line in excel, so you will have to take that into consideration when you sum up the number of excel lines for that sport.
So, if you are just starting out, you get 50 contests to work with. Now, if we assume you are truly only playing against beginners, we should have a higher expected win-rate and ROI in these games. As every player is limited to the amount of Beginner’s contests, the amount of $ volume put into these contests is limited. In order to maximize the value of the Beginner’s contests, I thought it would be best to play in the highest stakes available in each of these Beginner’s Leagues (this is the rationale of my alter-ego, dictator_degen). Every sport has different maximum stakes for the Beginner’s contests:
NFL – $100 × 50 contests = $5,000 max potential volume
NBA – $50 × 50 contests = $2,500 max potential volume
NHL/PGA/CFB/NAS – $20 × 50 contests = $1,000 max potential volume
MLB – $? I am not sure of the MLB Beginner contests since I am not able to open the Beginner’s Lobby anymore.
So theoretically, if you do well at the Beginner’s contests, you can pad your bankroll pretty nicely. However, there is a lot of risk playing in these higher stakes, and I would only recommend it if your bankroll can handle the swings (or if you are able to open your wallet to redeposit). I see DFS as a hobby, and like all hobbies, I limit myself to how much money I am willing to spend on it. It is not advisable to go broke and keep redepositing and chasing losses, so it may be better for some people to stick to playing the smaller stakes even in the Beginner’s Contests. If you do intent to take full advantage of the max potential $ volume at each sport, one way to minimize variance would be to spread the contests over multiple slates/days. This way, you can play 1 or 2 contests at the highest Beginner stakes, and slowly eat into your 50 contests over the course of a couple months.
When I came to this realization of maximizing the potential value of the Beginner’s Contests in each new sport, I had already made a decent profit from MLB, so I felt comfortable playing bigger in these Beginner Contests. I played in a few $100 and $50 NFL contests, and was up a little. A few days later, the NBA season was starting. There was a lot of DFS hype for the NBA opening night, and many people were saying on the RG forums how juicy the games were going to be those first few days. I do not follow the NBA much at all, and constructed my lineup with only the use of the RG Incentives and looking at Vegas lines and expected starting lineups on RotoWire. On the opening day for the NBA, I played 40 NBA Beginners 50/50s at $50. I won all of them, and planned on playing in my remaining 10 beginner contests the next day. However, I noticed there were 2-3 HVPs in all 40 of my contests from Day 1, which surprised me. I looked at the RG profile of one of the players who played in all of my contests and saw that this player was a high volume NBA player on FanDuel, so I assumed they must not have had a DraftKings account before. So, it is possible to run into some HVPs in the Beginner’s contests. The good thing is, you can easily avoid these players because they will likely not be eligible for these contests a couple days later.
The following day (Day 2 NBA), I registered for my 10 beginner’s contests, and noticed that the same 2-3 players were not only in all of my beginner’s contests, but registered in at least another 50 more! This is way more than the allotment of 50 Beginner’s Contests, so I posted on the RG forums inquiring about this and someone astutely replied that DraftKings likely cuts you off from accessing the Beginner’s Lobby once your 50th contest locks and goes live. That is when a light bulb went off in my head.
Aha! This means, you can technically play 49 contests on Day 1, and on Day 2, play in an infinite amount of Beginner’s Contests. It was the second day of the NBA season, and with the excitement of the new season, there was a huge volume of games. Day 1 was also only a 3 game slate, and Day 2 had a full slate of games (which is supposed to favor more informed players because less luck is involved). I felt like I had an edge with the RG Incentives, and I saw this as a one shot opportunity to really pad my bankroll or go broke doing it since I would be locked out of NBA Beginner’s contests after that day whether I entered 10 or what ended up being 331 contests. I decided to enter every single Beginner’s Contest that they offered that day, everything from the $1 to the $50-50/50s. I kept entering contests until I used up about 75% of my bankroll at the time. With so much thrown into the cash games, I wanted to split my contests between two lineups to hedge my bets. However, I felt that the second lineup that I created was far inferior to my original lineup, and ended up going all-in with just one lineup. Talk about poor bankroll management, and leaving my bankroll exposed to extreme variance. Luckily, I went 329/331 (I got 6/10 in a $3 and a $20). So that turned out to be my biggest one night win. I’m sure you guys figured I raked it in that night; since if I lost, the title of this blog would have been “Sob Blog: How a new player failed at bankroll management.”
Most of my bankroll comes from winnings from the Beginner’s Contests. It will be interesting to see what my ROI and win-rate is when I put more volume into the non-beginner’s contests. In addition, I would be curious to see what other players’ ROI is at the Beginner’s contests compared to the non-Beginner’s contests at the same stakes. Perhaps, that can be a perfect topic for a Part III?
GAME SELECTION (POST-BEGINNER CONTESTS): So, what do we do once we use up all our Beginner contests? When the goal is to build your bankroll, I would recommend primarily playing these two types of games:
1) 50/50: The rake for 50/50 contests is 10%. Try to enter in the largest field of 50/50 contests that are offered. The reasoning behind this is that there will be high volume pros scooping up a ton of games, even at the $1 level. Since this is unavoidable, you will likely see a handful of the same players in all your contests. If this is the case, I would rather be pitted against them in a 50-player contest as opposed to a 10-player contest. The one thing to keep in mind is that DraftKings limits you to 40 entries of $1-50/50s and 40 entries of $2-50/50s contests per slate. So if you want to play more than $120 on the same slate, you will have to branch out into the $3 and $5 games or Double Ups.
2) Double Ups: The rake for Double Up contests is approximately 12%. At all costs, stay away from the Multi-entry Double Ups. You will see some of these Multi-entry Double Ups allowing up to 100 entries per player, and all the pros and HVPs will throw 100 identical lineups into these contests. This makes it really tough because if you look at the composition of total entries in these contests, the majority of entries are coming from these HVPs (who are usually big winning players). The single entry Double Ups are still not as good as 50/50s because the rake for small stakes Double Ups are higher than the rake for the small stakes 50/50s. Over the long-run, the difference between playing in 50/50s and Double Ups is the 2% additional rake, which is quite significant since that additional 2% rake is cutting straight into your ROI by 2%.
LINEUP CONSTRUCTION (CASH GAMES): Most of my research uses the RG Incentives, and it has really helped me. The most important factor when constructing a cash game lineup is to roster players who offer a high floor. Finding players with a high floor are important in cash games, because getting a crapper from one player can be the difference in placing 6/10 in a 50/50 and placing ITM at 5/10. Here is a very general idea of statistics and trends to target for players who may offer a high floor in different sports:
MLB Pitchers – Look for high average IP per start and high K/IP. Pitchers have the chance to score more fantasy points if they pitch deeper into games. Also, it longer in the game they last, the higher probability they will qualify for the win, and less innings for their bullpen to lose their win.
MLB Batters – Batting order is very important. You want players who bat at the top of the order, because ABs give you a chance for points. The higher in the order, the more chances for a 4-5 AB game. DraftKings doesn’t penalize players for recording outs like FanDuel’s scoring system, so I love lead-off hitters who get many ABs. Also, look for undervalued players that are batting in front of stud hitters. Players batting in front of Harper or Trout will likely get more pitches to hit than if they were batting 8th with the pitcher’s spot due up next.
NFL – Look for players who get a lot of carries or targets.
NBA – Look for players who play a lot of minutes. Normally, the more minutes, the more chances to score fantasy points.
NHL – Look for players who have more ice-time, and preferably who shoot the puck often.
The next thing to consider is each players’ expected fantasy points per salary $. The key is finding those cheap players who can offer a high pts/$ to complement your roster full of more expensive players. For example, a player that costs $3k who scores 12 pts (4 pts/$) is usually much more useful to your roster as a whole than a $9k player who scores 18 pts (2 pts/$). Unless this is the last roster spot for you to fill, you will likely always want that cheaper player who may not score as many points as the more expensive player (as long as the cheap player’s pts/$ is high). This is because the $6k salary savings from this example will allow you to upgrade your other positions which would hopefully net you more than the 6 pt deficit between the $9k player and the $3k player.
I realize that I had a lot of good luck during this run up in bankroll, and I hope to stick around and keep playing at the small stakes cash games even though my Beginner Contests will soon be depleted in all the major sports. I still have some new sports to try out at the Beginner levels (PGA/CFB/CBB/NAS), so maybe I will see some of you guys there! Good luck, and go out there and grow your bankrolls!