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  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    Hello!

    This is Dan Barbarisi, author of Dueling with Kings, the recently-released book about the world of DFS. In DFS itself, I’m known as Pimpbotlove. The nice people at Rotogrinders have asked me to do an AMA here, so if anyone has questions on the book itself, the book writing process, the industry, my journey, my time covering professional baseball, or whatever, fire away, and I’ll do my best to answer them over the week!

    A few basics about me:
    -Born NYC, raised Rye Brook, NY. Undergrad Tufts U., Grad school Brown U.
    -Spent 2001-2008 as political & crime reporter in Providence, RI, at the Providence Journal
    -Started covering the Boston Red Sox in the fall of 2008
    -Covered the NY Yankees for the Wall St. Journal from 2010-2015
    -Quit the WSJ in Dec. 2015 to work on Dueling with Kings full time.
    -DWK covers the period from May of 2015 thru the announcement of the DK/FD merger, Nov. 2016. Buy it here: https://t.co/Q5iI7nnDOy
    -Born July 2, 1979, the very same day as Jumbo Joe Thornton, though he looks like he could be my dad.

    We will randomly select 10 people (who ask a question) to receive a copy of ‘Dueling with Kings’, so ask away!

  • cantclark

    Did you make most of your money in MLB DFS in cash games or GPPs? How much $ were you playing per night?

  • krazyju84

    Dueling with Kings has been in my Amazon cart for couple weeks now. Only thing preventing me from hitting the order button is that I am not much of a book reader. Give me your best teaser! or just say ROI will increase by reading it!

  • blueboy36

    Can I have a copy of your book? I am very interested in the knowledge you have.

  • wolfjb1

    I bought the book after Dan Back promoted it on his pod a couple of weeks ago and it’s great.

    My question is, What do you see as the future of the industry? Here on RG, the doomsayers dominate the forums. It’s jumped the shark. Only the pros can win. It’s not fair. The sites suck. It’s stacked. Yada yada yada. But RG is an echo chamber, a bubble. My opinion is that the industry’s future – once it digs itself out of the colossal hole it created for itself and is able to stop paying lobbyists and lawyers – is that the future is bright. Before the implosion, we kept hearing that there are something like 100 million fantasy players in the U.S., but only a small percentage play DFS. So the target market is huge. Absent a Black Friday type ban from the feds, DFS should be here for the long haul, right? What do you think?

  • jhcrowther

    After this experience can you tell me if this is a game of skill or luck? I can point to several examples to support both arguments. Some days it feels like a little of both but wanted your opinion.

  • bripc23

    2013 PFBC Finalist

    Dan – you are a good writer. How did you develop your skillset? Have any good writing tips/advice?

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @BleechDaddy said...

    Dan, Have not read the book. Which DFS site do you prefer, and are you a data/analytical guy or a feel player?

    Well then go read the darn thing already!

    I’d say 90% of my action is on DK. Just suits me better.

    And I’m much, much more a data guy than feel, but that has its place as well, no question.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @randlan said...

    I heard on an RG podcast that you landed BeepBeep as your mentor. Did you ask anyone else? Which DFS players were on your mentor wishlist?

    My two initial targets were CSURAM & The Artist Formerly Known As MaxDalury (now Saahil Sud). Neither one worked out in that capacity, but no fault of theirs, I aimed pretty high! But hey, I don’t want to give away chapters 1 & 2, you’ll just have to read it to see my efforts to track them down! ;)

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @tgowen said...

    I’ve always had the desire to write a book (albeit a fictional one about obscure superheroes that my son would enjoy). So my question for you is what advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing this dream and what is one of the biggest challenges from start to finish in getting your book completed?

    Writing a book is a relentless project that is basically never finished. This one is out, and in some ways it still feels incomplete to me. What I can say is that it requires a lot of forethought — it isn’t just about sitting down and putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were). That served me well during my newspaper journalism career — but didn’t work well here. Instead, it became much more important to map out, mentally, where I wanted each paragraph to go, what ideas I wanted each section to transmit, what were the themes and lessons and motifs behind each grouping of words. So, I’d say, spend some quiet time before you sit down to write at each point, and really attack, in your brain, where you want to go with your writing that day. And then do it (almost) every day, so that you’re mentally in it consistently, and it becomes a part of your routine.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @cantclark said...

    Did you make most of your money in MLB DFS in cash games or GPPs? How much $ were you playing per night?

    I was a GPP player almost totally. In MLB, at my peak, I was up to about 2k on FD daily and 1k DK. My real, consistent peak in NHL was around 3.5-4k daily.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @krazyju84 said...

    Dueling with Kings has been in my Amazon cart for couple weeks now. Only thing preventing me from hitting the order button is that I am not much of a book reader. Give me your best teaser! or just say ROI will increase by reading it!

    Your ROI might increase by reading it — but that’d be besides the point. The best pitch I can give you is that the larger world of DFS players, not exactly big readers for the most part, are picking this up, tearing through it, and saying it’s the rare book they loved, because it speaks their language. That means a ton to me, and hopefully it’ll be enough for you.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @blueboy36 said...

    Can I have a copy of your book? I am very interested in the knowledge you have.

    Sure! Thankfully, we live in a cash economy, where if you want something, you can use your resources to acquire it. In fact, I will direct you to exactly where to go to purchase a copy, thus allowing me & mine to eat, and keeping the whole virtuous cycle going for everyone:

    https://t.co/Q5iI7nnDOy

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @wolfjb1 said...

    I bought the book after Dan Back promoted it on his pod a couple of weeks ago and it’s great.

    My question is, What do you see as the future of the industry? Here on RG, the doomsayers dominate the forums. It’s jumped the shark. Only the pros can win. It’s not fair. The sites suck. It’s stacked. Yada yada yada. But RG is an echo chamber, a bubble. My opinion is that the industry’s future – once it digs itself out of the colossal hole it created for itself and is able to stop paying lobbyists and lawyers – is that the future is bright. Before the implosion, we kept hearing that there are something like 100 million fantasy players in the U.S., but only a small percentage play DFS. So the target market is huge. Absent a Black Friday type ban from the feds, DFS should be here for the long haul, right? What do you think?

    I think DFS is definitely here for the long haul, but they have a lot of work to do to rebuild the trust that was lost during 2015. A lot of casual players signed up, lost quick, and then felt dumb about HOW they lost, as more and more negative revelations about the industry came out. Nobody wants to feel like a sucker, and a lot of regular guys felt that way. The Anti-DFS stuff that came out at its peak was always overblown, but it was grounded in truth: the playing field WAS badly slanted. The top players DID have too much of an edge. The sites WERE too focused on catering to them. So, now they’ve made changes, and appear committed to doing more… but for the regular guy who gave it a shot two years ago and lost his $50, he’s probably not going to come back until he hears enough Word-of-Mouth from friends who had good experiences in DFS, saying, “okay, this thing is cool, it’s not all sharks, you should give it another shot.” I think they’ve got a ways to go before that becomes the case. I do believe a merged company will have a place in the sports landscape, and should be able to raise money and promote itself effectively. But they have more work to do.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @jhcrowther said...

    After this experience can you tell me if this is a game of skill or luck? I can point to several examples to support both arguments. Some days it feels like a little of both but wanted your opinion.

    It is, as with poker, a hybrid, where both play a role. The exact spot where that line is drawn remains up for debate. I’d argue it’s clearly more skill than luck, in that over the long haul better players are going to beat lesser players. But in the short run, anything can happen.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @bripc23 said...

    Dan – you are a good writer. How did you develop your skillset? Have any good writing tips/advice?

    Why thank you! To take the 30,000 foot view, I started by reading a ton as a kid, then writing a lot as a teen (stringer for local newspapers and the like) then just writing, writing, writing, writing, until you iron out some of the kinks and it all becomes second nature. It really is the kind of thing where repetition counts, but more than that, you need to go and seek out examples of what you believe to be good writing, and look at what they do. Everyone stands on the shoulders of those who came before, and that’s both okay and good. Look at good writers, lots of them, and try to blend elements of what they do into what you do.

  • hartshornd

    Dan, loved the book! Couldn’t put it down because I wanted to hear more stories as you lived them—next thing I know I finished the book in two days and wanted more. Two questions: Now that the book is out, what is one story you wish you included in the book? Second, you mention how the casual fan was burned in the past. Do you think it’s now worth the casual fan to join up with their $25-$50 and try to make a bit of extra cash—or should they continue to stay away because they won’t have a chance?

  • aguigno

    ———————-

  • AdamLoebSmall

    Dan – great book. I read it in about a week, which is not easy for a married guy with two kids and a lot of work on my plate. But it was a well told story, and I liked particularly weaving back and forth between industry developments and developments in your own playing career. I’m sure it was a very enriching experience to follow the industry during this particular period while also taking a deep dive into what it’s like to grind full time.

    I also think having both those experiences in tandem may give you a fairly unique perspective on the competing desires of the pro community vs. other industry stakeholders. This is a big, ongoing issue in the poker world. Professional players don’t have an entirely clear idea of what their place is in this system. Or as Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” To be fair, a lot of industry folk also don’t have a clear idea of what the role of the professional is in their economy, and it leads to somewhat of a love-hate relationship between the two groups.

    I liked very much the chapter where you talked about meeting with Al Smizzle. Al’s one of the people who interests me most in this community, because he actually seems to fully buy into the idea that being successful long term probably means being a famous promotor of the industry. It’s not that he can’t be a successful player, of course, but he recognizes that to really be a value-creator and ensure himself a spot in this ecosystem, he has to be giving back. Simply putting entries in isn’t enough.

    There’s a lot of confusion (for lack of a better word) among professionals in this kind of game about who’s really benefiting from their participation. My take is that primarily it’s the winning player himself who benefits most from his participation. His volume may grow prize pools, but if he’s taking more money out of the system than he’s putting in, he’s probably not much more than a break even customer for the sites. That could even be a generous assessment.

    From what was written in the book, it seemed like most of the people you spoke with had a pretty measured outlook on their place in all of this, understanding that all the free money and perks couldn’t go on forever. But I’m wondering, did you have any interesting conversations with high level DFS pros about how they view their relationship with the DFS sites? Do they primarily view themselves as value creators or net takers? Do they believe the sites can’t live without them, or do they lean more towards a belief that what’s really important is that deposits keep coming in? And if it’s the latter, do they see any obligation on their own part to help promote the game in a positive way and contribute to the marketing that will keep the money flowing?

  • Geir

    I’ll be buying your book (unless I’m lucky enough to win a free one lol), and look forward to reading it.

    My question: Do you feel the information in your book will help casual DFS players become more succesful?

  • WidumBoise

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks so much for doing this.

    To echo Saahil’s sentiment- do you believe that cash games are “dead” and that the only real +EV left to play for is in GPP due to so much dead money?

    Where do you see DFS evolving towards in 5 years?

    10 years?

    Will there be any +EV left to exploit and return a profit? Can we still beat the rake?

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @hartshornd said...

    Dan, loved the book! Couldn’t put it down because I wanted to hear more stories as you lived them—next thing I know I finished the book in two days and wanted more. Two questions: Now that the book is out, what is one story you wish you included in the book? Second, you mention how the casual fan was burned in the past. Do you think it’s now worth the casual fan to join up with their $25-$50 and try to make a bit of extra cash—or should they continue to stay away because they won’t have a chance?

    So glad you liked it! So to answer those:

    - More than having whole stories I wished made it in, I wish a few stories were included in their original form, rather than edited and truncated and often pared down significantly. A few that come to mind are a scene from the Beach House chapter with Cal Spears — his winning at that restaurant was originally much longer — and one in the “Mark Cuban” chapter discussing multi-entry pros and cons with Saahil.

    - I think it’s certainly worth it for the casual fan to join up. They do have some chance. But what they need to understand now — and what hopefully makes this era different from the 2015 “ad blitz” era, is that this isn’t some get-rich-quick gold rush. This isn’t the world that those first commercials promised, where you “pick your players and pick up your cash.” If they know they’re going into a tough game, but a fun one, and that it’s more entertainment product than moneymaking scheme, then awesome. But it’s about how it’s presented.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @aguigno said...

    Hi Dan,

    The book sounds very interesting and area that I think needs more journalistic attention. Do you think more regulation is needed? I ask in reference to allegations of people using multiple accounts, selling lineups etc.

    I’m generally pro-regulation, because I think businesses will always largely act in their own self-interest, and higher authorities exist to represent the interests of the average user. So, yeah, within reason, more please.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @PaiGowChamp said...

    Dan – great book. I read it in about a week, which is not easy for a married guy with two kids and a lot of work on my plate. But it was a well told story, and I liked particularly weaving back and forth between industry developments and developments in your own playing career. I’m sure it was a very enriching experience to follow the industry during this particular period while also taking a deep dive into what it’s like to grind full time.

    I also think having both those experiences in tandem may give you a fairly unique perspective on the competing desires of the pro community vs. other industry stakeholders. This is a big, ongoing issue in the poker world. Professional players don’t have an entirely clear idea of what their place is in this system. Or as Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” To be fair, a lot of industry folk also don’t have a clear idea of what the role of the professional is in their economy, and it leads to somewhat of a love-hate relationship between the two groups.

    I liked very much the chapter where you talked about meeting with Al Smizzle. Al’s one of the people who interests me most in this community, because he actually seems to fully buy into the idea that being successful long term probably means being a famous promotor of the industry. It’s not that he can’t be a successful player, of course, but he recognizes that to really be a value-creator and ensure himself a spot in this ecosystem, he has to be giving back. Simply putting entries in isn’t enough.

    There’s a lot of confusion (for lack of a better word) among professionals in this kind of game about who’s really benefiting from their participation. My take is that primarily it’s the winning player himself who benefits most from his participation. His volume may grow prize pools, but if he’s taking more money out of the system than he’s putting in, he’s probably not much more than a break even customer for the sites. That could even be a generous assessment.

    From what was written in the book, it seemed like most of the people you spoke with had a pretty measured outlook on their place in all of this, understanding that all the free money and perks couldn’t go on forever. But I’m wondering, did you have any interesting conversations with high level DFS pros about how they view their relationship with the DFS sites? Do they primarily view themselves as value creators or net takers? Do they believe the sites can’t live without them, or do they lean more towards a belief that what’s really important is that deposits keep coming in? And if it’s the latter, do they see any obligation on their own part to help promote the game in a positive way and contribute to the marketing that will keep the money flowing?

    Thanks PGC! Appreciate the kind words. A lot here, so I’ll try to compartmentalize and answer things in turn.

    - To view all professional players as a monolith is part of the problem that I think many have. A monster-volume Saahil is simply not the same as a mid-volume JeffelJefe is not the same as some guy calling himself a pro but who’s barely making money. They all have different needs and wants and all approach the system in different ways. The guy who’s barely hanging on is probably more likely to engage in what we might think of as predatory behavior as he tries to turn a profit, but people will focus on Saahil because he is absolutely everywhere and they engage with him more, even though he is likely to play it more conservatively because he’s always under the microscope.

    - Al, I think, gets it more than most, and I really respect what he’s done to try to be an ambassador for the industry but also a caretaker of parts of it.

    - I think many of the top pros — at least the ones I became closer to — did feel a certain responsibility to play the right way, to not be predatory, to make sure the ecosystem is semi-stable. That said, they are always, always going to put their needs first, that’s simply human. So even if that means eschewing the most predatory tactics, it still means doing things that may be negative for the ecosystem as a whole, because they are first and foremost trying to earn a living here. That’s why I’ve always argued that the sites need to be the ones restricting player behavior, even at the risk of pissing off some of their best customers.

    - Most of the pros, in the end, say themselves as net takers, but they wanted the value creation aspect of what they do recognized — the “the big prize pools don’t exist without me,” part. That said, they didn’t view themselves as knights in shining armor, either.

    Thanks for the good questions!

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @Geir said...

    I’ll be buying your book (unless I’m lucky enough to win a free one lol), and look forward to reading it.

    My question: Do you feel the information in your book will help casual DFS players become more succesful?

    Thanks Geir! I look forward to you checking it out one way or the other!

    DWK isn’t a how-to book, but yes, I do believe it will help casual players become more successful, because it shows them the landscape of the world they’re dealing with. (on top of some more conceptual game selection, bankroll management, game theory stuff). That wasn’t why I wrote it, at all, but I have been told many times that was a collateral effect.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @WidumBoise said...

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks so much for doing this.

    To echo Saahil’s sentiment- do you believe that cash games are “dead” and that the only real +EV left to play for is in GPP due to so much dead money?

    Where do you see DFS evolving towards in 5 years?

    10 years?

    Will there be any +EV left to exploit and return a profit? Can we still beat the rake?

    WB – I don’t believe cash games are dead, but I am of the opinion that the money is to be made in tourneys. I’m almost entirely a GPP player, but to me, the cash scene just has too many sharp people bumping uglies.

    In the next 5 years, I think DFS will do pretty well, return to some of the growth it saw before it shot itself in the foot by trying so hard to grow so fast.
    In 10 years, that’ll largely depend on what the larger sports gambling landscape looks like across the US; particularly, whether generalized sports betting receives broader legalization (which I think it will in some form).

    Beating the rake, +EV to exploit… that’s hard to say. But I do think online poker has provided, and will continue to offer, a good model for predicting the trajectory of DFS, and poker has certainly had a lot of problems with people optimizing the game to too great a degree, and pushing out the casuals.

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