The Great Multi-Entry Debate

Is a super-sized bankroll and six player stacks all you need to succeed in MLB? Join me as we take a look at the results from the DraftKings Perfect Game from May 6th to May 14th.

The date was May 7th 2013. There was nothing extra special about this day. The NBA Playoffs were going on and LeBron James and the Miami Heat were in a tense series with the Chicago Bulls. I wasn’t a big sports fan but I always tried to make an effort to catch some playoff basketball. A friend casually mentioned I should try out these new one day leagues on FanDuel. I remembered creating an account in the past but never deposited any money. When I arrived home, I hopped on my laptop and deposited $10. I joined a head-to-head for $2 against “johnyrev”. I remember sweating the contest out until the bitter end. johny defeated me 206-204. I didn’t even care about the $2 I just lost. I was hooked! By the way, ff you are still around, johny, I would like a rematch. I’ve gotten a little better and I know not to pick players like Shane Battier now. Anyways, like I said, I was hooked from day one.

Even though I wasn’t winning often, I loved having action on games. When the NBA Playoffs ended, I decided to try out MLB. I had not watched a game in years or ever played season-long MLB. I wanted to learn the game though. The good folks in FanDuel chat were a great help getting me started. I was learning about BvP, hot streaks, and even some new sabermetrics like wOBA, ISO, etc. Something was still missing from my game and I continued to lose throughout the remainder of that first MLB season.

Just like many of you, MLB was just buying time for me until NFL started. At some point during the succeeding NFL season I discovered RotoGrinders. Being a part of this community alerted me to the fact that other sites such as DraftKings, DraftDay, and FantasyFeud exist. I also learned about some new strategies from this community. One of those strategies was something called “stacking.” This was something I had never considered as a new player. Why in the world would someone want to select six hitters from the same team? Over the next couple of years, I saw both the benefits and drawbacks of stacking. I even tried it myself with some success. Throughout this time I noticed some in the community become more vocal about stacking. Especially multi-entry stacking where the same user stacks every team playing in a GPP. This debate seems to rage strongest when a big name player takes down a large GPP with a stack.

What I never seem to see in this debate is facts. Everyone just repeats the same opinions. Some will say all you need is a large bankroll to win big money. Others will note you can try out the same thing yourself in the Quarter Arcade Challenge. A couple nights ago, I set out to reveal the numbers behind multi-entry. Stacking seems to be the worst on DraftKings where users are allowed to take six hitters from the same team. Unfortunately for me, DraftKings only allows users to see the previous ten days worth of contests. For the purpose of this study, I’m using nine days of data. I realize this is both an arbitrary starting and end point, and a small sample size. If I this were an essay for a college level statistics class, I would fail automatically for those two reasons. Just because this is only a snapshot in time doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from the data.

Methodology – Before I get started, I want to be clear that I’m not writing this article to shame anyone. Because we are talking about large gains and losses I’m not naming names. I can guarantee the profit or loss mentioned here is not indicative of the overall profit or loss for the players studied. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about the data. I downloaded the CSV for the DraftKings Perfect Game for each night from May 6th-May 14th. I opened the files in excel and added a column for entry fee ($300) and winnings. I then sorted by username so that each user’s entries would be grouped together. For the purpose of this study, I noted the entries and winnings for any player with at least five entries. There are some nights where a player is included because he entered five times but in the future he played less than 5 entries and those are not included. The idea here is not to track individual ROI but rather how much of the prize pool is funded by multi-entry and how much do they profit off those buy-ins?

The Data – Over the nine days sampled there were 63 unique users who entered five or more entries on at least one night. For the purpose of this study, those entries are treated as $300 cash even though they may be the result of satellite wins. Across this time period, users who entered at least five lineups saw a net profit of $95,012.70. That doesn’t mean everyone who multi-entered was profitable though. Of the 63 players who multi-entered 40 saw a net loss while 23 saw a profit. Of the players with a net loss, five realized a loss greater than $10,000 with the worst loss recorded being $15,800. Again this was in a nine day period. On the positive side, six players realized a profit greater than $20,000 with the largest profit being $45,300. Below are the results in table form. In order to make the table fit I’m showing net profit or loss each day. Again, the players’ names are hidden but each is identified by a number.

In the above paragraph, I forgot to mention one thing. While players with five or more entries saw a net profit of $95,000 they were not profitable on an everyday basis. Three of the nine days multi-entry players saw a net loss including one day where they lost $27,333.44. The last row represents the daily total for all players.

Stacking – The date above represents players with five or more entries. That doesn’t answer the question of whether or not stacking is profitable. Not everyone who multi-enters uses stacks and some with only one entry employ the stack strategy. To determine whether stacking works I decided to dig a little deeper into the individual player results. For the sake of my time and yours, I’m only going to look at the results of the players who entered a large volume throughout this time period. What types of stack did they enter and did it work?

Player 49 – Let’s start with the guy I’m guessing most of you are wondering about. How did someone lose $15K in just nine days? What’s going on here? To be honest, lots of bad luck. Here are the day one rosters for this player from May 6th. In that picture we see the following stacks, Angles, Dodgers, Athletics, Blue Jays, Brewers, White Sox, Yankees, and then some mixed stacks. Not a single team cashed. Looking at other days provides the same results. A few times this player minimum cashed but he never had the right combo of pitchers, stack, and then two additional hitters who put up a decent score. The end result is a $15,000 loss.

Player 6 – Here is another player who stacks but at a much larger volume. This player is at the forefront of any stacking debate. In nine days this player had $104,400 in entries in the Perfect Game alone. That’s 348 entries across nine days. What did those entries net him? He returned $98,125 to his bankroll for a net loss of $6,275. On any given night, this player had multiple stacks that included six players from the same team. Even with a massive bankroll (at least $100K) this player couldn’t brute force his way to a first place finish or even an overall profit. We need to remember we are looking at just a nine game sample here but the result is intriguing. Even with every team covered every single night this user couldn’t turn a profit without a first place finish.

Player 53 – This player is in the same boat as Player 6 above. In nine days he had $68,700 in entries and returned $55,600 to his bankroll for a $13,100 loss. Between Player 8 and Player 53 we can easily see that a massive bankroll and stacking six players is not an automatic ticket to success.

Player 61 – If bankroll and stacking are not the key to success well then what is? Don’t get me wrong here, bankroll is important. We are talking about a nine day sample that included some wild swings for some.. Anyone playing multi-entry needs to have a large enough bankroll to sustain long losing streaks. So what is the other element needed? Just a little bit of luck. In this nine day sample, player 61 netted first, second, and third place finishes on three separate days. This player had less than ten entries on each of those days but managed to nail the right combination. Those three finishes were worth $20,000, $15,000, and $14,000. The teams used were a Pirates stack on May 7th, a Cubs stack on May 8th, and a Padres stack on May 14th. In all three cases Player 61 had the correct stack, two decent pitching performances, and the +2 (two non-stack players) also performed.

Conclusion – I’m mostly indifferent on multi-entry and stacking. Above I have pointed the risks and reward involved in stacking. The reason that prize pools continue to grow is because a few players are pumping in over $100,000 in entries over nine days. If stacking is limited or eliminated, prize pools will shrink as these players may not see the upside in pumping in a ton of entries. Players who don’t multi-entry or stack can compete but as evidenced by the results here, it netted them a $95K loss over nine days. Last but not least, I want to emphasize bankroll management. Only you can decide whether playing a contest has a positive expected value. This decision needs to be based on your results in similar contests in the past. Don’t let the allure of massive prizes suck you in. Play within your means and eventually your big win will come.

About the Author

  • Seth Yates (sethayates)

  • Seth Yates hails from Dayton, Ohio. Seth started playing DFS during the NBA Playoffs in 2012. Seth rose to stardom in 2014 when he won the NFL Preseason Bomb using picks he blogged about. When he isn’t playing DFS, Seth is a Financial Analyst for the Air Force. Even though paying taxes on DFS isn’t fun, Seth re-invests your taxes back into DFS for you.

Comments

  • ap28

    Very interesting..Thank you.

  • buffballz

    Good read , very interesting and my wife would totally kill me if I lost 15K in 9 days playing fantasy baseball

  • sandman84

    Agree I’d be sleeping on the street for a few days. But great write up!

  • tomac

    Some data missing to draw full conclusions (number of entries in the gpp’s).

    But assuming 5 entries per person in this study – which we all know is a low assumption – and using today’s Perfect Game size (518 entries) and prize pool ($140,000):

    63 guys entering 5 lineups = 315 lineups, which win on average over the nine-day stretch $10,555 daily…

    Thats 60.8% of the field winning 75% of the pool over a nine-day stretch, leaving 25% of the cash for the 39.2% single bullet crowd.

  • sethayates

    @buffballz said...

    Good read , very interesting and my wife would totally kill me if I lost 15K in 9 days playing fantasy baseball

    To be clear this is just a 9-day stretch of that person’s play. The player who is down $15K in this stretch has won the Perfect Game at least once this year. I may have just caught him during a bad stretch. Ideally, we would want to see the data I provided over a full season before drawing any conclusions. To the guys playing the heaviest volume I’m not sure it is a big deal to see their balance drop $15K as long as they can win it back at some point later. It only starts to matter when they are having to deposit new money in order to keep employing the multi-entry strategy.

  • sethayates

    @tomac said...

    Some data missing to draw full conclusions (number of entries in the gpp’s).

    But assuming 5 entries per person in this study – which we all know is a low assumption – and using today’s Perfect Game size (518 entries) and prize pool ($140,000):

    63 guys entering 5 lineups = 315 lineups, which win on average over the nine-day stretch $10,555 daily…

    Thats 60.8% of the field winning 75% of the pool over a nine-day stretch, leaving 25% of the cash for the 39.2% single bullet crowd.

    I may take another look at some point and try to determine what you are asking here. I do have all the data readily available to make that happen. You are correct that the multi-entry players are getting more back from the pool than they are putting in.

    I do need to be careful drawing conclusions from that though. A player who is willing to bet $1500 (5 entries) is probably on average much better than a player who is only entering $300. That hurts the ROI of the non multi-entry guys because even though there are some good players who only play one or two, they are drawn down by lower caliber players.

    I went into this with an open mind but the realization that guys with less than 5 entries lost 90K to the multi-entry crowd is not lost on me. With that being said, the Perfect Game is basically a tournament created by the high rollers for the high rollers. Anyone who puts in an entry should know what they are up against. In most cases it would make sense for a single entry player to take the $300 they would need for a single entry and play 11 entries in the Payoff Pitch for $297 instead.

  • kevin8053

    • 175

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #17

      RG Tiered Ranking

    Interesting write up but I’m confused on the conclusion if any that was reached. Of course multi-entering doesn’t automatically lead to big money wins or profitability nor does a large bankroll. Thats the kind of stuff that sore losers say and think to convince themselves that their losses are someone else’s fault. Multi-entering lineups is a skill that only a few players are exceptionally good at. There is strategy that goes in to it which differs a bit for each of the different sports. You already touched on the absolute disprover of the theory when you mentioned that it’s easily possible to replicate multi-entry for anyone with even a small bankroll using the quarter arcade or dollar entry contests.

    Last season in NFL I placed second in a FDFFC qualifier. The person that beat me had just 16 wins to their name. That was a 22K entrant contest. It is certainly possible to win a large GPP with just one entry.

    Back to the point I don’t see here where evidence is presented that stacking is a good or bad idea in MLB. It may make sense to redo this using a larger contest with a smaller entry fee. The idea presented in the initial paragraph alluded to stacking every team as a fool proof strategy. You may find multi-entry players in the larger GPP’s with smaller entry fees employing that type of strategy.

    Final not, I’ve observed that Multi-Entry GPP strategy really only becomes profitable when the player gets some top 10 finishes. Your article seems to confirm this. Looking at it statistically if a contest is 5000 players strong one has a 1 in 5000 chance of taking 1st place using just one lineup. Entering 100 lineups should bring the odds to 1 in 500. Employing a decent strategy (not randomly selecting a bunch of different disconnected lineups) should conceievably improve on the 1 in 500 odds but I’d leave it to statisticians to figure out that part.

  • tomac

    @sethayates said...

    I may take another look at some point and try to determine what you are asking here. I do have all the data readily available to make that happen. You are correct that the multi-entry players are getting more back from the pool than they are putting in.

    I do need to be careful drawing conclusions from that though. A player who is willing to bet $1500 (5 entries) is probably on average much better than a player who is only entering $300. That hurts the ROI of the non multi-entry guys because even though there are some good players who only play one or two, they are drawn down by lower caliber players.

    I went into this with an open mind but the realization that guys with less than 5 entries lost 90K to the multi-entry crowd is not lost on me. With that being said, the Perfect Game is basically a tournament created by the high rollers for the high rollers. Anyone who puts in an entry should know what they are up against. In most cases it would make sense for a single entry player to take the $300 they would need for a single entry and play 11 entries in the Payoff Pitch for $297 instead.

    Obviously we are basing this all off a nine-day window, but if your data for those nine days was the norm for a season’s worth of Perfect Games, your last sentence is spot on.

  • sethayates

    @kevin8053 said...

    Interesting write up but I’m confused on the conclusion if any that was reached. Of course multi-entering doesn’t automatically lead to big money wins or profitability nor does a large bankroll. Thats the kind of stuff that sore losers say and think to convince themselves that their losses are someone else’s fault. Multi-entering lineups is a skill that only a few players are exceptionally good at. There is strategy that goes in to it which differs a bit for each of the different sports. You already touched on the absolute disprover of the theory when you mentioned that it’s easily possible to replicate multi-entry for anyone with even a small bankroll using the quarter arcade or dollar entry contests.

    Last season in NFL I placed second in a FDFFC qualifier. The person that beat me had just 16 wins to their name. That was a 22K entrant contest. It is certainly possible to win a large GPP with just one entry.

    Back to the point I don’t see here where evidence is presented that stacking is a good or bad idea in MLB. It may make sense to redo this using a larger contest with a smaller entry fee. The idea presented in the initial paragraph alluded to stacking every team as a fool proof strategy. You may find multi-entry players in the larger GPP’s with smaller entry fees employing that type of strategy.

    Final not, I’ve observed that Multi-Entry GPP strategy really only becomes profitable when the player gets some top 10 finishes. Your article seems to confirm this. Looking at it statistically if a contest is 5000 players strong one has a 1 in 5000 chance of taking 1st place using just one lineup. Entering 100 lineups should bring the odds to 1 in 500. Employing a decent strategy (not randomly selecting a bunch of different disconnected lineups) should conceievably improve on the 1 in 500 odds but I’d leave it to statisticians to figure out that part.

    Thanks for reading. The intent of this article was more about multi-entry than stacking. I mentioned stacking a few times but as you said, I didn’t prove or disprove stacking is a good idea.

    The only thing I can definitely say based on the data here is that a massive bankroll and 6 players stacks is not an automatic ticket to success. It think most of us knew that anyways.

    The better approach to stacking would be for someone to take the Quarter Arcade Challenge but then compare their results to the Perfect Game. In other words, treat each $0.25 entry as a $300 entry and see whether you profited or lost over a 10-day time period. (If anyone reading this wants to try it I would love to see that blog)

    The thing about stacking is that even the experiment I just mentioned won’t definitely prove it. Some are better than others at stacking. Since you can only have six players in your stack you have to leave out 2-3 hitters. Some teams like the Orioles have 4-5 outfielders so you can’t even get every player you want. Their is definitely skill in deciding who should be part of any stack. for example, if you stacked the Mets this weekend you probably left off Flores hitting 9th (behind the pitcher) and he hit a Grand Slam.

    Mostly, the only conclusions I’m drawing here is that bankroll and stacking are not the automatic ticket to success that some would think. Also, it is worth monitoring over the rest of the season whether multi-entry players continue to profit over single entry. The results show that 42 of 63 players were not profitable yet the multi-entry as a whole was. This mostly leads me to believe the multi-entry guys are just swapping money around in the Perfect Game. More data is needed before I could definitively make that call though.

  • kantiger77

    I think the Player 8 you refer to is actually Player 6?

  • Russthabus26

    I will definitely finish the article because Seth always seems to be level-headed and put out great stuff but you lost me at 2013 Lebron on Cleveland.

  • sethayates

    @Russthabus26 said...

    I will definitely finish the article because Seth always seems to be level-headed and put out great stuff but you lost me at 2013 Lebron on Cleveland.

    Oops, I just fixed that. No wonder I sucked so bad back then. The link I posted even shows James on the Heat.

    @kantiger77, you are correct Player 8 that I mentioned was actually Player 6. I fixed that in the article. I originally wrote this look at the names then went back and changed to numbers but I looked at the wrong line. The data is still correct though just had him titled wrong. Thanks for pointing out.

  • 21CRB80

    Great article Seth on an interesting topic. Keep up the great work!

  • Wakefield49

    Very nice blog! There seems to be two strategies (at least) for multi-entry: 1. Stack a different team in each entry, 2) Stack same team in each entry but vary the pitching and 2 non-stack hitters (and/or 1-2 members of the stack). In one case, the skill involved is in choosing the top non-stacked players, and in the other the skill involved is in choosing the best stack. In the long run, I would predict that the first strategy is better (measured in profit) than the second for smaller (5000) fields. Any thoughts on this?

  • VChair23

    • 856

      RG Overall Ranking

    Nice to see someone chart this. Wish there was Data accessible over a longer period.

  • kaetorade

    • 2013 DraftStreet DSBBC Finalist

    Great blog Seth!

  • shanksalot

    2013 PFBC Champion, 2013 DFBC Finalist, and 2013 FFFC Finalist

    • 274

      RG Overall Ranking

    • 2017 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    • 2013 FanDuel WFFC Finalist

    Seth that was a very interesting read. Thanks for the work!

  • kevin8053

    • 175

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #17

      RG Tiered Ranking

    Pointing out that Bales did some work regarding the viability of stacking in his most recent MLB book and there was a clear positive relationship between stacking and winning GPP tournaments.

  • OrdaNation

    Great read Seth, glad you went ahead with with this.

  • BeepImaJeep

    • 2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    • x7

      2015 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    solid read! i think i’m #6

  • Brian4state

    Good read…thanks

  • yanks237

    @sethayates said...

    The better approach to stacking would be for someone to take the Quarter Arcade Challenge but then compare their results to the Perfect Game. In other words, treat each $0.25 entry as a $300 entry and see whether you profited or lost over a 10-day time period. (If anyone reading this wants to try it I would love to see that blog)

    Hey sathayates, so I have actually been thinking about this approach for a while now. I am a college kid studying mathematics with a love for baseball (a pretty good match for dfs). I don’t have the bankroll to be putting up $300 a night let alone probably all baseball season, but the quarter arcades have been something I want to check out.
    At 10 entries a night for 10 days I could afford even not cashing once and be able to do this experiment. I believe I would choose the ten highest scoring teams that night, as predicted by Vegas. Unless of course weather is involved or I just have a “feel” for someone else.
    Just a few open-ended questions, would we define a stack as having 6 players from a lineup or could it be as low as 3-4 per lineup. I think this would be a very important question on determining if stacks work or not.
    Secondly, I will not be able to do this in ten consecutive days with the proper research allowed, some days are just busier than others. But rather in an 18 day span, probably less (Memorial Day weekend is pretty much a wash, maybe sunday or saturday but thats it)
    Third, I am a relative beginner in the field, I have dabbled in dfs football and back in 2012 I actually took down a FanDuel tourney for $7500 in the Conference Championships when Brady got intercepted by the Raven’s defense, that propelled me from 5th to 1st and ended the game. (But thats just a case of beginner’s luck as I had absolutely no idea what I was doing). With that being said would the data received be worth looking into if only from a novice player?

    I am going to do more looking into today, and probably start a blog anyways, hey it’s worth a shot! Please give me any feedback as I can sure use it!

    EDIT: I can’t believe I forgot this, absolutely great article! Brought up very good points and would be interesting to see the data over the long term on how multi-entries work. I am sure they do as more high-rollers continue to come on scene. Thanks for the information and inspiration!

  • mannmicj

    The problem is, DK isn’t really interested in single entry. If you look at the single entries they offer each night, they have small fields (even the Daily Dollar) and they do ZERO to promote them. In fact, they tend to be buried in a huge list of other multi-entry tournaments. I would never say they need to get rid of multi-entry. That said, why not promote a HUGE single entry from time to time and embrace that DFS user base. If DFS is growing as much as everyone thinks, there should be plenty of folks willing to fill those Single Entry GPPs while offering a very nice prize pool.

    The big multi-entry players will say they offer the single entries, just don’t play the multi-entry if you don’t like it. They are MISSING THE POINT. The main message is there is a large contengent that would like to see more single entry with larger fields which would create the larger prize pool. If sites like DK put in a few more resources (promotion), I think big single entry GPPs could be a very good way to get in new players.

    My hope is, that someone like Yahoo or ESPN will see that single entry is a neglected part of DFS and run with it. They already have the HUGE user base in fantasy sports, they could easily put on large field GPPs with big price pools. If ESPN or Yahoo does it with success, it could push DK and FD to offer more as well. Everyone can be happy and play what they enjoy.

  • Stonecoldnuts

    Another great article my man…..I hate personally hate the draftkings rule of being able to take 6 players from one team..which Is one of many reasons i hardly ever play there. If you notice almost every night the person that wins the gpp over at draftkings always has a stack of 6 players from one team..it just takes a lot of the skill out of it when you just multi enter 6 person one team stacks like crazy imo…

  • daveinchi1975

    2012 DSBC Finalist

    There are a lot more than 2 strategies to stacking – if you are playing to win the whole thing, then stacking the Rockies and/or their opponent in Coors against bad opposing pitchers doesn’t help much, since 400 other entries out of 5K entries will have the same stack. You end up with a min. cash when your stack performs well, but your extras don’t. However, if you stack a poor offense against a decent pitcher and it comes through, you gain a large advantage on the field (there might be 10 entries out of 5000 that stack the Padres at home against the Dodgers 4th starter). This is further differentiated by the entry fee – the lower the entry fee, the more often you’ll see odd stacks like this, since it is much easier to pull the trigger on a iffy stack when you are paying $5 than when you are paying $300 for it. I don’t know who (or why) anyone would think that stacking the entire league is ever a good idea – why waste money stacking a bad hitting team against an ace? Consequently, I highly doubt that there are any more than 15 teams stacked by any 1 gamer in these high-value multi-entry gpp’s, whereas in the quarter-arcade, I’m sure there are people stacking EVERY team twice in it!

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