The Alchemist: DFS Musings & MMA Point Projections - Pettis vs RDA

Let us not burthen our remembrance with
A heaviness that’s gone. – William Shakespeare

The Alchemist – Diary Entry #3 17/03/2015

Part of an ongoing series. For context, see Entry #1 here.

What if?

A simple question, yet so much more. A powerful force, capable of drowning the most confident of men down into a sea of doubt.

Emerging as a distance whisper, nestled deep in your consciousness. Once heard, louder and louder it becomes. Soon, “what if?” is deafening, clouding your judgement, ruining any pleasure or enjoyment left to be had. It is not a guide, leading you to future prosperity; but a troll, leading you down a path to destitution.

In order to truly enjoy this hobby, you must learn to let things go. Many a gambler finds himself forever looking back on that one time where perfection was within his grasp. He should only look once, and move on.

I had him in my lineup, took him out right before lock. Of course he blows up.

You made a decision. Examine that decision. Go over it again with the available information you had at the time. Was it flawed? Or would you make it again? In daily fantasy, the line between great success and sheer disappointment can be a razor’s edge.

However, the question is never did you make the winning decision, the question is did you make the sound decision. Was it process driven? Was it the best decision with the available information? Yes? Then move on. No? You are now a better player, and you are unlikely to make that mistake again. Both are positives.

Or perhaps the decision came down to a coin flip? That happens as well. You placed your fate in the hands of the fantasy gods, like so many of us do when we cannot afford to play both this player and that player, and they decided that today was not your day. So it goes.

Point Projections and Results

As I continue to gather results and ponder how I can expand on my projections, I’m realizing the potential my system has. Soon I will have enough data to establish floors and ceilings for each fighter, point projections based on winning or losing. For now, through three cards with wildly varying outcomes in terms of finishes and decisions, the only thing I can confirm with confidence is that my point totals are generally too low, by a measurable proportion.

I will make the adjustment ahead of this week’s event, while ensuring my methodology remains untouched. After all, the optimal lineup is riding an unbelievable hot streak.

Optimal Lineup and Outcomes

When I first generated the optimal lineup, it took me only a few seconds to conclude that its floor was too low. I was after all, building a cash lineup. My solution was to lock in Anthony Pettis, and generate a new roster configuration.

The optimal lineup with Pettis locked in suggested I stack the women’s strawweight championship fight. I was comfortable with this approach. The fight was expected to go the distance, and from experience I estimated the fewest amount of points I would get out of both of them would be sufficient. In addition, I was confident that Pettis would defend his title. I concluded it was highest floor cash lineup possible, and locked it in. It was only upon watching the fights that I realized my mistake.

Carla Esparza never had a chance, this was obvious about four seconds into the fight. Those level change fakes did not inspire any confidence whatsoever. The fight was over the second it started. I am sure some sharp bettors, familiar with Joanna’s extensive kickboxing background, made a ton of money on her that night. Esparza a -155 favourite? The lack of history and knowledge on the women’s strawweight division was apparent from Vegas to my point projections to countless lineups on Saturday. The lesson? Focus my tape review on such new and unknown fighters. Not so much time and effort needs to be spent on known quantities. Fights like these are where there is money to be made and an edge to be gained.

Anthony Pettis is a one of a kind talent, but a good fight plan can give him difficulty. Get in his face, be relentless, get him up against the cage. It has worked against him before, and it worked again. RDA is world-class fighter and a deserving champion of course, but in this fight, and it was his game plan and fight IQ which lead him to a decisive victory. I assumed Pettis was by far the safest play on the board, a heavy favourite defending his title in a five round fight. It was a mistake. He is no Jose Aldo or Ronda Rousey.

Analysis and Conclusion

The floor in my cash lineup ultimately prevailed. It cashed all $1-$20 50:50s, but not the $50. It broke even on H2H. Overall, it lost some money as it failed to cash in triple ups. It was a sound lineup configuration, and I stand by the decision to run it, but there are clearly improvements I can make when evaluating individual fighters. It would be easy for me to kick myself and say “I should have ran the optimal lineup!”, but I simply did not have the information on Joanna to make that call.

And so, just when it seemed the night was lost, I felt a presence. I was not alone. The Alchemist appeared before me. He stood near motionless for what seemed like an eternity, and I dared not say a word. Finally, he looked directly at me, and spoke.

“I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the wagers of men fail, but it is not this day!”

Oh sure, it wasn’t the #1 Takedown (finished tied for 22nd for $168), but $470 is a solid payout on a $27 entry. Most importantly, I finally saw my name come to rest atop the leaderboard. It was my first time, in any GPP across any sport.

Here’s hoping it will happen again in the near future. The hot streak continues.

Follow me on twitter @huitcinqDFS

About the Author


  • Jasen777


    No one (well maybe her coaches and training partners) had that information Joanna Champion. Her take down defense was way better than her last fight. Such rapid improvement is possible, which of course is one of the things that makes predicting MMA difficult.

  • huitcinq

    Good to know!

    Sounds like getting a sneak peak at her training camp might would have been the single best edge to have for last week.

    Still, I think DFSers everywhere collectively groaned when Joe Rogan mentioned her extensive fighting experience early in the fight. I think he mentioned something like 70 kickboxing fights. That was the nail in the coffin for me haha.

  • Jasen777

    Getting a peak at training camps is difficult – all the information ever put is positive. You’ll hear “he’s had the best training camp ever” and then after he losses “he had an injury and couldn’t practice full speed the last 3 weeks”.

  • huitcinq

    Yeah that’s right, so you need to get an insider at the gym itself. Maybe I could hook something up at Tristar… lol

  • AvgAmericanM

    Think I’m banned on reddit, but wanted to add something quickly – Dariush’s line was moving since it opened, sharps were all over it early, it jumped more when Cruikshank didn’t make weight, but that was the mispriced value line of the card… there’s always one :)

  • AvgAmericanM

    Also re: reddit, do not, DO NOT, start suggesting plays pre event like some were bitching about. Teach them to fish, lead them to water, etc., but don’t give out plays. This isn’t the NBA or NFL where there’s hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of combinatory possibilities and x% can all still be profitable while differentiating significantly from one another. MMA isn’t comparable to the other sports. This is a niche community thus far with (in my estimation) a finite amount of time to exploit a finite edge. The more squares, dead money, and longer there’s an exploitable edge – the better.

  • huitcinq

    @AvgAmericanM said...

    Dariush’s line was moving since it opened, sharps were all over it early, it jumped more when Cruikshank didn’t make weight, but that was the mispriced value line of the card…

    Interesting! I thought it had just moved because of Cruickshank missing weight. Still, the shift in his line wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Tim Means the previous event, all the reasons experts were listing why Cruickshank would win still applied come fight time.

    I mean even the people who had Dariush pegged to win couldn’t have possibly imagine he would win the fight on his feet! (yes I know he finished with a RNC, but anyone watching knows the fight was won in the stand up game)

    It was such a great and interesting fight, my personal favourite on the card though Pettis-RDA was a close second.

  • huitcinq

    @AvgAmericanM said...

    DO NOT, start suggesting plays pre event like some were bitching about. Teach them to fish, lead them to water, etc., but don’t give out plays.

    I personally will never give out my projections pre-event (and certainly not my lineups), but I disagree with you on “picks”.

    See, MMA is the one sport where the traditional sports writing previews apply almost perfectly to DFS (whether it’s sherdog, MMA weekly, ESPN, Yahoo, etc. you can find all kinds of experts giving out their pre-event picks), so there’s already tons of information out there on picks even asides from the DFS based work guys like Jasen, bbbomb and Pug are doing here at Rotogrinders.

  • huitcinq

    @AvgAmericanM said...

    This is a niche community thus far with (in my estimation) a finite amount of time to exploit a finite edge. The more squares, dead money, and longer there’s an exploitable edge – the better.

    (3rd post in a row but I want to address all your points seperately haha)

    This is the one thing I am absolutely NOT worried about whatsoever, for two reasons.

    1) Not only is DFS in a growth market, but MMA was launched in the “dead money” time of year. When DK launches their big marketing push prior to the start of the NFL season (word is they’re about to secure a financing deal from Disney, with all of it earmarked for marketing), I think the action in MMA will skyrocket.

    2) MMA is the “easiest” DFS sport to play, as in a casual player can put together a respectable lineup with only 5-10 minutes of work, something which would get you slaughtered in any other sport. Ironically I think this is a good thing for sharp MMA players, as casuals will always find it enjoyable to sweat out an MMA lineup regardless of how often they win. As DFS MMA gains steam I think there will be more and more casual players who tell themselves “hey I got 20 minutes to kill before the prelims start, might as well throw a lineup together”.

    So while you’re right about a finite edge and a finite amount of time, I think it’s years down the road.

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