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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!

  • WidumBoise

    @pimpbotlove said...

    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.

    Dan, very true.

    I view the DFS landscape as almost similar to the stock market where capitalizing on market inefficiencies can generate profit, albeit the market always seems to correct itself, you just need to be ahead of the curve.

    DFS adds in the “ownership” dilemma in GPPs which add a twist to simply buying up players at good salary points and turning a profit automatically.

    Do you share a similar worldview for DFS vs the stock market per se?

  • Faucher

    • Blogger of the Month

    Hey Dan, haven’t read the book (yet) but think your story of getting into DFS is fascinating. My questions are was there a point you regretted making the decision to play DFS full time and attempt to become a pro? Was there a bad stretch that you said this isn’t worth it? If so, how did you overcome that?

  • kieff5280

    • Blogger of the Month

    I just finished the book. While an entertaining read, I don’t fully understand how you were able to pay your bills, go down thousands of dollars at first, and then up to playing thousands of dollars a day. I get that you had backers to help you with the Qs? Just seems to me that the whole industry are people who are financially independent that can use their time and money to devote to DFS… In your research have you come across anyone who was a regular joe with a bankroll of a few hundred dollars becoming a shark?

  • plaudati

    what got you so fascinated with DFS

  • VertigoLemming

    What is the most common entry fee for the GPP’s you enter? Did you notice a change in your winnings once you moved up in entry fees?

  • VertigoLemming

    Also, does RG provide you with beer while you answer these? If so, what’s your brand?

    (I listened to the audio book on Audible and loved it, nice work!)

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @Faucher said...

    Hey Dan, haven’t read the book (yet) but think your story of getting into DFS is fascinating. My questions are was there a point you regretted making the decision to play DFS full time and attempt to become a pro? Was there a bad stretch that you said this isn’t worth it? If so, how did you overcome that?

    I definitely got pretty down at various points, but luckily for me, I pulled out of it before it got too bad. The reality was, though, I decided to make that effort in order to tell the larger story of DFS, so as long as diving in in this manner allowed me to better understand the world and tell its tale — which it did, perfectly so — I was pretty much in no matter what. For me, the story was always the most important part. If I’d been a huge failure, it would have still allowed me to be on the inside and tell the stories of the people and situations around me, which was the point all along. But I’m happy it turned out the way it did, don’t get me wrong.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @kieff5280 said...

    I just finished the book. While an entertaining read, I don’t fully understand how you were able to pay your bills, go down thousands of dollars at first, and then up to playing thousands of dollars a day. I get that you had backers to help you with the Qs? Just seems to me that the whole industry are people who are financially independent that can use their time and money to devote to DFS… In your research have you come across anyone who was a regular joe with a bankroll of a few hundred dollars becoming a shark?

    Well, I actually think this is pretty well explained in the book, but I’m happy to go over the chronology again, which may make it better able to make sense; I lost the vast majority of the $$ I lost while I still had my WSJ job. Only about 15-20% of it, and my nadir, came after that. Which covers the period from Jan 1 2016 until about 3 weeks later. Then, I started upswinging, and while that may seem to have happened “instantly” in the book, it reflects about a month of everyday, consistent, hard play, until by the end of February I was crushing it, and THEN betting thousands a day. It did feel like it happened fast, both to me, and in print, but that’s what it was.

    I think there are many people in DFS who come in with significant advantages in both time and money. Those advantages then lead to further edges once they become successful. But there are definitely people who have done the true “fish-to-shark” journey, and not just those like Assani who did it for real, but were poker types first. Those regular guys do exist; I don’t claim to be evidence of that because my journey was for another purpose, to tell the bigger story of DFS. But those guys are out there, for sure; many just grind away, and get buried under the volume of tout talk and pro banter.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @VertigoLemming said...

    Also, does RG provide you with beer while you answer these? If so, what’s your brand?

    (I listened to the audio book on Audible and loved it, nice work!)

    RG does NOT provide me with beer, but that’s a great idea! I’m actually doing this out of my Boston home, but I’ll be in the RG offices in Nashville at the end of the week, and I believe Cal & Co. should definitely have beer waiting. Banner idea. (Actually, this inspired me to crack one, mid-answer, and I went with a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union, a really good beer from a local Boston brewery)

    Generally speaking, what I care most about is the $333 hockey tourney. I rarely enter the 1K, and while I enter the $27 and the $4 daily, those are incidental to my results. To me, it’s all about the $300-level range, plus the $50 and $150. And yes, as I moved up in stakes, to these higher-$$, lower entry tourneys, I saw a significant improvement in my results. If you can afford to swim in those circles, and face that level of competition, I think the game size is excellent.

  • Mickles

    • 872

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #12

      RG Tiered Ranking

    I do not read many books, but decided to give this a shot while at the airport. Phenomenal read.

    Thanks for your story Dan.

    What’s the biggest GPP you’ve ever won, in terms of entry size? It sounds like you built your bankroll via high buy-in, smaller field tourneys.

  • jba

    Just finished the book yesterday. Enjoyed it very much. You are an excellent writer and I hope this book becomes more than just a niche book.

    Initially the book brought back memories of Fantasyland by Sam Walker, another fantasy related book that I enjoyed. Was pleased to see you reference his work.

    But it veered off from seeking an edge via access to (baseball) players to seeking edge by access to (DFS) players. I’m impressed by how easily you befriended them and became a part of the inner circle. Well done.

    Is Amalie enjoying being a feature writer, or does she miss the beat?

  • hendog

    • 2017 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    Hey Dan, loved the book. It exceeded my expectations in every regard.

    I’m also a Brown alum who stuck around Providence. Don’t live there any more but miss it all the time. Shit, I remember the ProJo layoffs, you must have been part of that. Anyways, if you covered crime and politics you must know about the podcast Crimetown, which I just discovered the other day and have been listening to non-stop. So consider this a recommendation for everyone else, check out Crimetown!

    I don’t know how these things work, but are you going to be able to make any appearances on late night TV or anything like that to promote the book? The general public could use a more nuanced perspective. I hear only good things about the book, but how’s it selling compared to expectations?

    Anyways, I grinded the under $5 GPPs (NFL) for a long time (the $9 remained kind of scary to me even as I moved into the $1000s on weekly entry fees) until I finally hit some big payouts, and now I’m thinking of moving up. Your experiences are encouraging me to move up even higher than I would have otherwise. However I have less of a feel for the NHL field sizes. Would you be more interested in the lower buy-in GPPs in a sport like NFL where the field is larger? Or to you, would that big top prize not be worth the increased field size? I guess my question is—since these things vary across sports—which variable would you look at for determining the attractiveness of a GPP? There’s a wide variety of payout structures and some are just less appealing to us GPP-only variance maniacs but its hard to pin down just what it is. For me, I think about whether a top finish would cover all my entries for the week, and if it doesn’t it’s much less appealing. But I’m not sure if that’s a sustainable attitude if I move up to the $300 level. (edit: I see you’ve basically already answered this; I think we have a different style despite both being GPP players. Feel free to disregard.)

    You might not be the best person to ask for bankroll advice, but have you thought about what your threshold for moving down would be if you went on a losing streak? Do you have any rules of thumb (or heard any tossed around among other GPP players) as far as what % of your bankroll to play or what size swings to be prepared for as a function of entry fees? This stuff was all well understood in the MTT poker world but it’s harder to figure out for DFS.

    Edit: wow, someone tell the RG developers there’s a bug and potential HTML injection issue here in the forums. My post got cut off at a less-than sign (when I said “under $5”)…luckily hitting back in my browser recovered it.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @Mickles said...

    I do not read many books, but decided to give this a shot while at the airport. Phenomenal read.

    Thanks for your story Dan.

    What’s the biggest GPP you’ve ever won, in terms of entry size? It sounds like you built your bankroll via high buy-in, smaller field tourneys.

    Thank YOU for reading it, and great question! I had to go deep into my records to find an answer, which is definitely incomplete, but you’re absolutely right about how I play — I love the high buy-in, lower entry stuff. Since I’m a 3-5 lineup guy, I hardly ever come close in the giant field tourneys. Had some top-10 finishes in some big ones, but from a quick search, the biggest tourney I ever WON appears to be a 1500 entry hockey tourney. A few others in that range, but that’s the basic idea. The 50,000-style ones are not my bag.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @jba said...

    Just finished the book yesterday. Enjoyed it very much. You are an excellent writer and I hope this book becomes more than just a niche book.

    Initially the book brought back memories of Fantasyland by Sam Walker, another fantasy related book that I enjoyed. Was pleased to see you reference his work.

    But it veered off from seeking an edge via access to (baseball) players to seeking edge by access to (DFS) players. I’m impressed by how easily you befriended them and became a part of the inner circle. Well done.

    Is Amalie enjoying being a feature writer, or does she miss the beat?

    Thanks, and any comparison to Fantasyland is absolutely intentional! As Sam was my boss, I talked to him extensively about his process in Fantasyland when I was envisioning DWK. My book owes a great deal to his, and to anyone who hasn’t read it, it’s well worth the read.

    Amalie is very much enjoying her new gig — she gets to do features, which she loves, but a bit of beat stuff too, especially where the Bruins are concerned. And then durin the playoffs, she just gets to cover one series after another for two months or so, which is grueling but can also be fun. I think I can safely speak for her when I say that she’s been very happy with the job change.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @hendog said...

    Hey Dan, loved the book. It exceeded my expectations in every regard.

    I’m also a Brown alum who stuck around Providence. Don’t live there any more but miss it all the time. Shit, I remember the ProJo layoffs, you must have been part of that. Anyways, if you covered crime and politics you must know about the podcast Crimetown, which I just discovered the other day and have been listening to non-stop. So consider this a recommendation for everyone else, check out Crimetown!

    I don’t know how these things work, but are you going to be able to make any appearances on late night TV or anything like that to promote the book? The general public could use a more nuanced perspective. I hear only good things about the book, but how’s it selling compared to expectations?

    Anyways, I grinded the under $5 GPPs (NFL) for a long time (the $9 remained kind of scary to me even as I moved into the $1000s on weekly entry fees) until I finally hit some big payouts, and now I’m thinking of moving up. Your experiences are encouraging me to move up even higher than I would have otherwise. However I have less of a feel for the NHL field sizes. Would you be more interested in the lower buy-in GPPs in a sport like NFL where the field is larger? Or to you, would that big top prize not be worth the increased field size? I guess my question is—since these things vary across sports—which variable would you look at for determining the attractiveness of a GPP? There’s a wide variety of payout structures and some are just less appealing to us GPP-only variance maniacs but its hard to pin down just what it is. For me, I think about whether a top finish would cover all my entries for the week, and if it doesn’t it’s much less appealing. But I’m not sure if that’s a sustainable attitude if I move up to the $300 level. (edit: I see you’ve basically already answered this; I think we have a different style despite both being GPP players. Feel free to disregard.)

    You might not be the best person to ask for bankroll advice, but have you thought about what your threshold for moving down would be if you went on a losing streak? Do you have any rules of thumb (or heard any tossed around among other GPP players) as far as what % of your bankroll to play or what size swings to be prepared for as a function of entry fees? This stuff was all well understood in the MTT poker world but it’s harder to figure out for DFS.

    Edit: wow, someone tell the RG developers there’s a bug and potential HTML injection issue here in the forums. My post got cut off at a less-than sign (when I said “under $5”)…luckily hitting back in my browser recovered it.

    Go Bears! I love Crimetown. About 2 episodes behind, but for me, it’s great — I knew Buddy reasonably well, actually scored the first one-on-one interview with him the day after he got out of jail in ’07, and have interacted with a lot of the people quoted and referenced in the show. And I didn’t get laid off from the Projo! I left when the WSJ came calling. But certainly knew a lot of friends who were, sadly.

    I’ve done some TV and a ton of radio on this, along with about 10 metro & national print features about the book, then attendant reviews. However, getting a “Late Night” TV spot, in the vein of Jimmy Kimmel or similar, is a much higher profile gig than I think I qualify for with this! But if you have any connections, please let me know! :)

    Regarding bankroll and swings, Beep always tried to teach me to keep a very, very small % of bankroll in play, 4-5%. (of course, the fact that everyone defines bankroll differently can be a problem as well; Beep often talked about it as “the amount of money you would accept losing before never playing fantasy sports again”). I routinely violated that, but not by much. I’ve only had a few times where I was clearly being stupid with bankroll, taking shots with like 20% of it at once. That was dumb. Usually ended badly.

    Anyway, a few losses wouldn’t necessarily make me change betting strategy. However, after a protracted period of downswinging, I’d definitely drop my bets by like 1/3 or so, until I get it built back up again. Usually, it’s a matter of NOT playing super-high-value, high variance tournaments like the hockey 1K, where you can finish 4th out of 12 five days in a row and blow 5K just on that, even with good lineups.

  • randlan

    Thanks for your answers Dan, I’ll take a look at this book when I have the time (MLB is starting up in less than a week, after all).

  • jtkucheck

    From reading the book, seems like the majority of your success has been in hockey. I’ll say that I’ve had some pretty impressive jumps in my hockey performance since having read DwK, which may be due simply to variance, or my previously putrid performance, but I’ll give you the credit anyway, even though this was decidedly not the point of the book.

    I’m curious as to your strategy in MLB, as it looks like you have also been a profitable (or at least decently high volume) player there as well. I would say I have the most intrinsic knowledge about MLB of any sport, but as you’ve alluded to, this is at best irrelevant and possibly detrimental. As a new MLB DFS player… any tips?

  • Ga_Sal16

    As a new member of the DFS as of last year, I’ve been winning my money back and then some here and there. Some say I’m too conservative and that’s why I only win pocket change (no more than $8 sadly, highest for one entry). I do try hard and research. Doing something wrong. I know everyone is trying to win big bucks. Just need some more guidance i guess.

    what advice do you have for someone like me when it comes to tournament play for NBA?????

  • skyflydfs

    RotoGrinders DanBarbarisi what is the one most important piece of advice you can give new DFS players for the upcoming MLB season?

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @jtkucheck said...

    From reading the book, seems like the majority of your success has been in hockey. I’ll say that I’ve had some pretty impressive jumps in my hockey performance since having read DwK, which may be due simply to variance, or my previously putrid performance, but I’ll give you the credit anyway, even though this was decidedly not the point of the book.

    I’m curious as to your strategy in MLB, as it looks like you have also been a profitable (or at least decently high volume) player there as well. I would say I have the most intrinsic knowledge about MLB of any sport, but as you’ve alluded to, this is at best irrelevant and possibly detrimental. As a new MLB DFS player… any tips?

    Lineup correlation matters most in hockey and baseball, and chances are, if DWK has helped you anywhere, it’s there. Same concept applies in MLB. Stacking in tournaments, in some way, is pretty much essential. Depending on which site you’re using, you’re likely either stacking two teams (FD) or one (DK) and hoping for explosions from both. Baseball is super-high variance, so some bankroll and the ability to withstand swings are huge. As are good stats, and an understanding of such. If you’re not already familiar with Fangraphs, and Baseball Ref, I’d say become so, or mostly stay away!

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @Ga_Sal16 said...

    As a new member of the DFS as of last year, I’ve been winning my money back and then some here and there. Some say I’m too conservative and that’s why I only win pocket change (no more than $8 sadly, highest for one entry). I do try hard and research. Doing something wrong. I know everyone is trying to win big bucks. Just need some more guidance i guess.

    what advice do you have for someone like me when it comes to tournament play for NBA?????

    I don’t know NBA, specifically. But what I will say is that it is very, very hard to win big, huge-field $3/$5/$7/$8 tourneys. Everything has to go perfectly. This is why I prefer the small field, 200/300 man total tourneys. You can win those without a Lunar Eclipse-style event, no matter the sport. Raising your buy-in slightly helps in finding those, and that’s where I live — higher buy-in, smaller field — but yeah, DFS is hard, man! :)

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @skyflydfs said...

    RotoGrinders DanBarbarisi what is the one most important piece of advice you can give new DFS players for the upcoming MLB season?

    See my response to jtkucheck – but to add to that, don’t skimp on pitching. There are times where, if you don’t have Kershaw or the equivalent, you shouldn’t even bother playing. That can be aggravating, but sometimes necessary.

  • saahilsud

    • 2016 RotoGrinders TPOY Champion

    • Previously Ranked: #1 Overall

    Who do you like more MaxDalury or SaahilSud?

  • BigMatt

    Don’t need a copy as I bought it and read it in 5 days and loved it. At first when you quit your job, you didn’t really mention how your wife felt and how she supported your dream to do this in the beginning. I know I can’t quit my job right now although your situation is different than mine. Thanks.

  • pimpbotlove

    • 2016 DraftKings FHWC Champion

    • x4

      2016 DraftKings FHWC Finalist

    @saahilsud said...

    Who do you like more MaxDalury or SaahilSud?

    Hm. Tough one. I think Saahil’s probably the better guy, Max always seemed like… something wasn’t quite right there. More than meets the eye, y’know? Besides, Saahil has better hair.

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