The Downs of the DFS (GPP) grind.

We all have cold streaks? Right?

When I go through a cold streak, I try to tell myself that it happens to everyone. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. A DFS cold streak can feel like the loneliest place on earth. I tend to get stuck in my own head just trying to find a way out of this slump. I think back through the lineup choices I’ve made or didn’t make. Many times this ends in much frustration. It’s another night of being one “F“ing player away from that big GPP prize you’ve been looking for.

I don’t know what is more frustrating, having an awesome lineup ruined by an NBA player deciding to eat the wrong thing before the game or the player who get all the minutes only to lay an egg.

Sure, we are told its Gastroenteritis that caused our player to leave the game or be a late scratch. Basically, he is crapping out of both ends of his body, most likely because he ate the wrong thing from the wrong vendor. Or, he’s just hungover from staying out too late drinking the night before. In this scenario, you may have someone other than yourself to blame, but you still have a worthless lineup that will most likely cost you everything you invested that night. Nothing you could have done to avoid this, but it just flat out pisses you off. I have not seen a DFS lineup ruined faster than in the NBA. Between the players and the coaches, it’s the most frustrating sport in DFS for me. Your night is literally over.

Then there is the “perfect lineup” until that one player lays a huge egg even though he got his expected playing time in a matchup you liked or price you needed to fill out your lineup. You look up and down the leaderboard and realize you were so close to finally hitting that huge GPP prize. A prize big enough to justify all the time and energy you spend everyday trying to beat DFS. While you will often cash with this team, it’s always about what might have been. Worst of all, many times the team that wins the massive GPPs doesn’t make much sense based on your research and doesn’t really reflect many “expert” picks either. Now I’m thinking, why do I waste so much time doing research when that is the type of lineup that won tonight. Sure, I can play a smaller GPP field (and I do), but let’s face it, the HUGE prize in the main GPP is what we really want to take home. The closer you get to taking down one of the life changing GPPs the more painful it becomes when you fall short.

The easiest scenario for me to get over, is actually the team that completely tanks. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because the team wasn’t even close to cashing despite everyone getting their expected playing time. I find with this lineup it’s actually easy for me to just close the laptop and move on. Often, it will motivate me even more the next day. It doesn’t stick in your mind as long as the lineup that was just one player away from taking a GPP down.

I think part of the problem are my own expectations and the reality that you need to finish in the top 0.03% that night to really earn a significant boost to your bankroll. Hell you can beat 95% of the field and only triple your buy in many GPPs. Of course, you can’t do that every night, so often times your are just breaking even or a little on the plus side in a given week. That’s the world of playing a lot of GPPs. In the education system, a 95% will often result in an A or A+ grade. Getting an A+ will often make you feel pretty good or at the very least successful at whatever you are being graded on. In DFS an A+ can mean very little, especially if you had a few nights of B’s and C’s that didn’t return anything. Since I’m playing to win, anything else seems like a failure to me.

Go ahead, play cash games like 50/50s or double ups and get a few winning nights under your belt. What I’ve found is that often the same score required to cash in a 50/50 or double up will often cash in a GPP. We also know that cash games are a condensed contest full of the best of the best. It’s a bunch of A+ students competing against each other day in and day out. After you figure in rake and taxes (if you profit enough), cash games can be extremely difficult to make a consistent profit in. We hear, play this % of cash games and this % of GPPs, but you can end up getting crushed night after night with B lineups that just miss cashing in all formats.

I’ve actually stopped playing “cash games”. I will only play GPPs, Triple Ups, and Quadruple Ups. After crunching my numbers, I tend to build better GPP lineups and can actually stretch my bankroll further by not playing a lot cash games. So I’ve put myself in a position to go through long losing streaks. The most difficult part of playing a high % of GPPs is the mental aspect. Trying to stay positive and not throwing your laptop through your TV (I still have the same laptop). You know you need a break, but don’t want to miss an opportunity to finally put that “perfect lineup” together.

When I started playing DFS about 2 years ago, I used only money that I won from my season long leagues and vowed to never take money from my household income. To this day, I am still playing on that money won from those season long leagues. I practice strict bankroll management and refuse to reload. I literally stopped playing NBA on DraftKings this season because it just wasn’t worth my time and bankroll investment. I will start back up on DK for the MLB season. I wasn’t going to chase the losses in NBA any longer and have had more success on FanDuel this season. It’s certainly not easy walking away from the first site I started playing DFS on, but it’s just not clicking over there.

The last six months I’ve devoted an enormous amount of time to DFS and it really hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I know without spending that time, I probably wouldn’t have a bankroll at this point. That said, I believe it’s only going to get more difficult win consistently as DFS continues to evolve and grow. To be frank. I play DFS to win money. I play season long fantasy sports to win money. Winning matters to me and I honestly could care less about just participating in fantasy sports for fun. Winning is fun. Losing is not fun. It’s that simple for me. Spinning my wheels and/or running in place isn’t my idea of a good time either. What I’m realizing is that I’m not enjoying myself much these days. Looking back, I think this NBA season has been responsible for most of my frustration. I devote so much time to game research and following lineup information online that I’m absolutely defeated when that one player lays an egg or craps his pants. I’ve never done anything in my life that is more of a waste of personal time and energy than when an NBA lineup is toast just minutes into tipoff. That’s probably what I love about MLB. You can absorb that awful game from a player and still have a successful lineup.

When I think about what is really to blame for my DFS short comings, it really comes back to me. You can try to blame: the player, coach, so called DFS “expert”, the referee, the multi-entry computer program or maybe even the weather. In the end, I just can’t get away from the fact that I had all the pieces of the puzzle right in front of me before the games started and I failed to put that puzzle together correctly. Each night ends with a “perfect lineup” winning the GPP. The winner conquered the puzzle and I did not. Remember, winning is everything in my book. I do not put the time and energy in just for the fun of it. The thing that keeps me playing DFS for now, is that tomorrow is a new day and another great challenge. Tomorrow is another opportunity to prove to myself that I can beat DFS. Even if it’s only one great night this year, that might justify all the time and energy spent trying to solve the puzzle.

My plan this year was to play DFS until the end of the 2016 MLB season, at which time I would decide to either continue or quit playing all together. To keep playing I told myself that I need to win a very large GPP, anything short of that will not keep me playing. I know those expectations are high, but honestly, what else are we really playing for if not to take down the big one? My time is worth more than breaking even.

When the thing you once loved doing becomes nothing but anger and frustration, it’s time to move on. I’m not trying to speak for everyone. My hope is that I’m not alone in this challenge and that others have or are feeling the same way. I’ve over come many challenges in my life and if walking away from DFS is the answer, then so be it. I can always have my fun winning in season long leagues :)

About the Author


  • njsum

    Thanks for sharing @mannmicj. Cash games become increasingly difficult after the all star break in nba. I was never a tournament player but very recently found that the tourney cash line and the double up cash line in double ups are too similar, that it just makes more sense to play tourneys for the upside. yet if ur inclined to play cash, id highly recommend playing 5050s this time of year as opposed to double ups. That extra 6 percent of the field u have to beat in double ups as opposed to 5050s is significant this time of year whereas in the beginning of the year, it wasnt much of an issue. I think it has to do with all the punt plays now available due to injuries, making it easier for slightly less skilled players to post better scores. As you probably know, a lineup can withstand 1 unfortunate event (late scratch, poor play, in game injury (depending on the salary) in a 5050 but not in a tourney. so if ur experiencing some bad luck on that front play some low dollar 5050s and see how you do. Good luck man and I hope things turn around for ya.

  • mannmicj

    Thanks for the reply @njsum. This was the only place I felt that I could voice my frustrations and have people actually understand. I appreciate the 50/50 advice, but they just don’t work out for me in the long run. It’s just not the way I build a lineup. Over time for me, 50/50s are almost always a break even or pay the man in rake situation. Maybe I’ll give them a late season look, but I doubt it.

    Again, thanks for the advice. I do appreciate it.

  • KillaChap

    I have been doing this thing for over a year now, MLB, NBA, PGA and NFL. I too understand the frustration but I just do low entry fee GPPs, $1 on FD and quarter on DK. Lately, over the past month or so, I’ve been creating 5, $1 H2H’s per night and then entering that lineup in one GPP. I’m not taking anything down to the point where I can quit my real job but I do tend to win more often than lose. My goal is to build up a nice bankroll off of $1 H2H’s so that I can go into MLB and enter higher games. Not sure if it’s going to work but I have too much fun to give up!

    Also: I’m going to preach here but I’ve found more success in H2H’s with value plays as opposed to stars/scrubs. I usually pick one star and then have everyone else be a value. Seems to work much better than loading up on a Westbrook/Curry/Durant lineup with scrubs. Good luck man!

  • mannmicj

    Thanks for the feedback @killachap. Your strategy sounds good. Hope you hit your goals by MLB season.

    I’m done on DK for NBA. Just going to concentrate on FD and a little Aces. I’m not going to risk anymore DK bankroll before the MLB season. MLB is my best DFS sport and I love DK’s structure for that.

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