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Lesson 1: Understanding the Fundamental Differences Between Cash Games and Tournaments

Justin Van Zuiden (stlcardinals84)

Justin Van Zuiden, aka stlcardinals84, is a popular RotoGrinders contributor and GrindersLive host who routinely finishes in the top 10 of the TPOY race. He’s appeared in numerous live finals and has logged countless six-figure wins in a host of different sports, including five in PGA. Justin is also a main contributor of sports betting picks at ScoresAndOdds

The first basic thing we need to do in understanding how to approach tournament play is to re-establish how it is different from cash game play. As a refresher, cash games are generally defined as head-to-head games, three-player games, and your 50/50, double up, and triple up contests.

A few more games might get this label, but you get the picture. These are games where between 30% and 50% of the field tend to get paid at the end of the contest.

You can almost always play cash games from a “safe, secure” perspective. If a dirt cheap running back is drawing a start because the top two running backs on a team are injured, he will be mega popular in almost every DFS format.

In cash games, you don’t get cute with this. You play said dirt cheap running back and move on. Tournament play brings about a whole different level of discussion, which we will delve deeper into in a later lesson.

The other major difference between cash games and tournaments is variance. If you play a bunch of head-to-head cash games and you put up an “average” score, you’re going to win somewhere in the vicinity of 50% of your contests.

Now, this may vary week to week based upon your opponents’ scores, but in the long run, that’s about where you will land. If you play a bunch of tournament lineups and you put up an “average” score, you’re going to lose almost every time.

This fundamental difference is hard to digest for a lot of people, and it makes some people scared to take more of a tournament-focused approach. However, part of the key to overcoming this fear is to embrace the variance that GPP play offers. Branch out. Don’t play it safe with that dirt cheap running back that’s going to be 70% owned.

In tournaments, the potential leverage is always there. Basically, if I had to boil GPP play down to one concept that makes it fundamentally different, it is this:

Tournament play makes you think more.

You have to digest strategy. What are my opponents going to do? What is the ownership going to be on Player X compared to Player Y? Which player has the higher ceiling? Is there an injury risk that some people might avoid, giving me an upside player at a cheap price tag? How much risk am I willing to take? How many lineups am I building?

There is so much that goes into tournament game theory – and that’s why I love it so much.

In cash games, building more than one roster is almost always suboptimal. Pick your best lineup and roll with it. In tournaments, there are additional layers of strategy to consider based on the things I described above. You’re simply dealing with a different mindset.

So, now that we’re mentally ready and understand the differences between building cash game and GPP lineups, let’s march forward!

The first basic thing we need to do in understanding how to approach tournament play is to re-establish how it is different from cash game play. As a refresher, cash games are generally defined as head-to-head games, three-player games, and your 50/50, double up, and triple up contests. A few more games might get this label, but you get the picture. These are games where between 30% and 50% of the field tend to get paid at the end of the contest.

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About the Author

  • Justin Van Zuiden (stlcardinals84)

  • Justin Van Zuiden, aka stlcardinals84, is a popular RotoGrinders contributor and GrindersLive host who routinely finishes in the top 10 of the TPOY race. He’s appeared in numerous live finals and has logged countless six-figure wins in a host of different sports, including five in PGA. Justin is also a main contributor of sports betting picks at ScoresAndOdds

Instructor

Justin Van Zuiden, aka stlcardinals84, is a popular RotoGrinders contributor and GrindersLive host who routinely finishes in the top 10 of the TPOY race. He’s appeared in numerous live finals and has logged countless six-figure wins in a host of different sports, including five in PGA. Justin is also a main contributor of sports betting picks at ScoresAndOdds

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