Trust your research.
I say that a lot. Heck, I wrote a whole NBA article a few months ago about trusting your research, and it was the most popular NBA article I wrote (granted, I wrote about six NBA articles in all, so there wasn’t much competition).
Trust your research.
In the past, I have always been a bit of a streaky MLB DFS player. This is something I hate, and is something I aim to correct (or…at least, is something I aim to correct as much as possible). And I know what most people would say: “It’s just variance.” Sure, that’s somewhat true. But not fully.
Now, I’ll be honest: I probably give less credit to variance than any other high-end MLB DFS player. Certainly, I give less credit to variance than the monster of variance is due. But at the same time, I feel that most other top MLB DFS players give variance too much credit.
You see, it’s partially on purpose that I give variance less credit than it is due. By taking my results into my own hands, I push myself to identify mistakes in my play (however big or small they might be), in order to constantly find ways to improve. I feel that if I gave variance more credit, it would be too easy for me to say, “Oh well, it’s just variance.” And while this would be a less stressful approach to MLB DFS, it would also clog up the engine that drives me to constantly search for ways in which I can be better.
By giving variance less credit than it is due and taking my results into my own hands, I effectively force myself to look for ways to improve. This includes looking for ways to become less “streaky.” Which cycles back around to trusting my research…
I started this MLB season 0-6. Six slates. Six negative outcomes. “It’s just variance, right?” Maybe. “It’s just part of being a single-entry DFS player, isn’t it?” Perhaps. But the worst part was, my narrowed-down list each day was absolutely on point. Worse yet: the fact that I continued to be unable to cash led to me second-guessing everything my research said.
In the middle of this last week, I should have finally broken through with my first solid day – what would have been roughly $5k in winnings. But right before games began that day, I freaked out and changed my team. I won nothing.
Then, Saturday happened. Five minutes before games began, this was my DraftKings lineup:
Total score: 185.30.
As I wrote that, I was unable to just look on my DraftKings account to see what the total score was for that team…because I did not actually end up using that team. Three minutes after contests locked and the first games began (and two minutes before any of my players locked), I freaked out and pulled up my DraftKings app and changed four players on the team.
Total score of the team I used: 151.90
If I had stuck with my original team, I would have won the Gold Glove ($20k), and I would have won a Qualifier for a seat to the Live Final in Toronto.
Instead, I failed to trust my research.
Sometimes, as DFS players, we get so set on “building the perfect team.” We want to lock things in place in such a way that it all feels “just right” – and oftentimes, this leads to us changing a well-researched team until we have tinkered too much for our own good. Typically, when this happens, we lose money over time.
Typically, when we instead trust our research and simply roll with whatever team our research led us to, we make money over time.
I am writing this post, partly, because doing so is cathartic. But I am not just writing this for me. For one thing, I imagine that reading this is cathartic for many of you, as you have recognized this hole in your own DFS play, and it feels good to know that you are not alone.
But catharsis only accomplishes so much. I am also writing this because I realized it’s a message that needs to be shared:
Trust. Your. Research.
It’s not always easy. It’s won’t always go well. But listen: It will go well far more often than “freaking out and changing teams at the last minute” will go well. It will make you more money in the long run. It will lead to a lot more success – and a lot more fun.
Finally, it’s important to learn to separate results from self-assessment. I’m preaching to myself here as much as I’m preaching to you, as a large part of the reason I tend to be a streaky MLB DFS player is the simple fact that I am far more likely to “freak out and change things on my team at the last minute” when things have been going poorly. Take this last week, for example: if I had simply cashed one day early in the week, I would not have “freaked out and changed my team” on that mid-week night when I would have won around $5k. And had I won around $5k mid-week, I would not have “freaked out and changed my team” on Saturday, when I would have picked up $20k and a seat to the Live Final.
But why should I have been freaking out in the first place? Why should I have been refusing to trust my research? As I said earlier: my narrowed-down list each day had been on point. My research was sharp and accurate. I could look at my list at the end of each night and say, “Wow – I had a really solid day today.” The only thing missing was results. Had I been self-assessing independent of results, I would have had an easier time trusting myself with the teams I built. I would also have a lot more money right now than I have.
Trust your research.
You won’t win every day. But you’ll win a whole lot more over time than you will by “freaking out and changing things at the last minute.”
After the week I just had, I can tell you: That’s good enough for me.