INDUSTRY FORUM

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  • HopscotchAnon

    Hey all,

    I am a high-volume DFS professional, and wanted to try and give back a bit to the community by trying to answer questions from a different perspective. I think the more transparency there is in the industry, and especially from the sites and professionals, the greater confidence the general public and other participants will have in the industry. And more people playing DFS is better for everyone involved – the casual players, the major sites, the sites built around DFS (such as RotoGrinders), as well as myself and other pros.

    Some background: My background is in STEM. I started playing DFS later than most, well after it became well known, and started with a typically small bankroll. As my models succeeded, my bankroll has scaled to the point that I now enter nearly all available tournaments in the sports I play. I play multiple sports, and all the major sites. My career entry fees total in the eight figures, and my trailing 12-month ROI is comfortably double-digits. This username is not my playing username.

    Some thoughts/observations on strategy and the industry to get the discussion rolling (and my views are my own, I certainly do not speak for anyone else):

    1. There are many ways to generate profitable models. Generally, more data is better, as long as it is properly handled. I personally don’t watch the sports I play – my models are entirely data-driven and automated, outside of interactions with the sites themselves. I do believe that knowledge of the sports and manual adjustments can improve models, and many pros benefit from such adjustments, but manual adjustments are difficult to backtest.

    2. Publicly available projections (paid or free) run the gamut from very little predictive power to very good. It is important to be able to know which projections actually work. My models incorporate both my own projections, and projections from a few specific sources. They help to account for extraneous shocks to specific games that my models can’t fully account for based on collected data alone.

    3. MME tournaments are in no way a guarantee of profit. MME is typically a multiplier of your edge, and if you have a negative edge, it will magnify your losses. There are a staggering number of possible lineups, even on small slates. The average overlap among pros on main MME NBA slates is only about 6%, so any two pros will typically have less than 10 lineups in common on any given slate.

    4. I understand many people play DFS for entertainment, and can get frustrated by professionals. But do understand that wherever there is significant money involved, there will be opportunity for those who wish to capitalize on it. I am very much in favor of the restrictions sites impose on the pros. For example, I can’t enter any tournament with an entry fee less than $3, and only large tournaments where fees are less than $5. This applies across all sports, so if I decided to play a new sport, I would have to enter higher dollar tournaments from the very beginning. For those playing for entertainment, the lower fee contests are a fantastic option.

    5. I won’t comment on specific things, but most of the conspiratorial ideas about pros and the sites don’t seem to based in a lot of fact, at least nowadays. The sites are friendly, and encourage the pros, but (at least for myself) they don’t provide any special favors. They are heavily motivated to try and keep the games clean and user’s confident in them, although I do agree some of their processes can be made more transparent.

    6. The well-known names have widely varying ROIs. Professionals tend to average a trailing 12-month ROI in the upper single digits, but with lots of variance, and there are also some that are negative (especially now). ROIs have tended to drop as time goes on, especially after the initial years of DFS. Competition adapts and improves, and some pros seem unable to. Rankings are not a great indicator of success, as they generally show volume, and have little correlation with ROI and profit.

    Happy to answer any questions!

  • sochoice

    • 2017 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2017 FanDuel WFFC Champion

    What is your username on DK and FD?

  • HopscotchAnon

    I prefer to remain anonymous, sorry.

  • maddysdaddy0914

    My guess is this thread will remain quiet as long as you remain anonymous

  • jv21

    • Ranked #76

      RG Tiered Ranking

    No one else is asking questions so here are some I have:
    1. How much work does it take to make a model?
    2. Is DFS just math now? eg optimizers, projections, variance, standard deviation, just making lineup is like a math problem too.
    3. Is there an edge in dfs? And is it still beatable? For any level of player.
    4. Why make this thread?

  • HopscotchAnon

    @jv21 said...

    No one else is asking questions so here are some I have:
    1. How much work does it take to make a model?
    2. Is DFS just math now? eg optimizers, projections, variance, standard deviation, just making lineup is like a math problem too.
    3. Is there an edge in dfs? And is it still beatable? For any level of player.
    4. Why make this thread?

    1) It heavily depends on your experience. A lot of the work is gathering data, and then analyzing the data. Gathering data can take a very long time, especially without programming experience. But analyzing can be quite fast with a background in statistics or machine learning. A model is never truly done, it is continuously improved with new ideas and new data. For a very rough approximation, I would say about three to six full-time months of work went into my first “completed” model, however it was functional after about a month.

    2) There is an enormous amount of math and statistics, but only so far as there is appropriate data available. There are, and will continue to be, pieces of information that aren’t easily gathered via data (interpreting coach’s statements on player workload would be on example, as the samples tend to be both small and hard to parse). A lot of players can manually incorporate this data to improve statistical models (which can simply be public projections), but I don’t think purely “gut-play” models work well.

    3) Absolutely there is an edge for players, and it is “beatable” in the sense of making consistent profit. It depends on the rake, but to be profitable probably requires you to be in the top quarter of players. To be consistently profitable and make a living off of it probably requires you to be in the top 1%.

    4) Two main reasons: I appreciated reading (and listening to) similar things when I started, and I believe having the industry be more transparent as a whole is healthy for its growth.

  • jjwd

    Do you enter any tournaments where max entering does not = 3% of total entries? If so, how does your player pool vary among contest size?

  • HopscotchAnon

    @jjwd said...

    Do you enter any tournaments where max entering does not = 3% of total entries? If so, how does your player pool vary among contest size?

    Yes, as the majority of contests have an entry limit far less than 3% of total entries. Though, at higher entry fees (> ~$300) the limit is about 3%. My player pool / exposure doesn’t change directly due to contest size or entry fee, but rather just due to the total number of entries allowed. Each additional entry allows for exposure to more players. I probably have larger total player pools than most, as the variance among individual players is pretty large relative to their expectation.

  • jjwd

    @HopscotchAnon said...

    My player pool / exposure doesn’t change directly due to contest size or entry fee, but rather just due to the total number of entries allowed.

    Thank you. Interesting

  • jv21

    • Ranked #76

      RG Tiered Ranking

    @HopscotchAnon said...

    1) It heavily depends on your experience. A lot of the work is gathering data, and then analyzing the data. Gathering data can take a very long time, especially without programming experience. But analyzing can be quite fast with a background in statistics or machine learning. A model is never truly done, it is continuously improved with new ideas and new data. For a very rough approximation, I would say about three to six full-time months of work went into my first “completed” model, however it was functional after about a month.

    2) There is an enormous amount of math and statistics, but only so far as there is appropriate data available. There are, and will continue to be, pieces of information that aren’t easily gathered via data (interpreting coach’s statements on player workload would be on example, as the samples tend to be both small and hard to parse). A lot of players can manually incorporate this data to improve statistical models (which can simply be public projections), but I don’t think purely “gut-play” models work well.

    3) Absolutely there is an edge for players, and it is “beatable” in the sense of making consistent profit. It depends on the rake, but to be profitable probably requires you to be in the top quarter of players. To be consistently profitable and make a living off of it probably requires you to be in the top 1%.

    4) Two main reasons: I appreciated reading (and listening to) similar things when I started, and I believe having the industry be more transparent as a whole is healthy for its growth.

    Thanks for the responses. its good to read about how others see and play dfs.

  • sochoice

    • 2017 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2017 FanDuel WFFC Champion

    @HopscotchAnon said...

    I prefer to remain anonymous, sorry.

    No worries. I’m the CEO of a major corporation then. Any questions?

  • factorial89

    how about a bona-fide spreadsheet for say 3 months.just 2 columns matter. money in-money out.then see which total is larger.

  • jjwd

    @sochoice said...

    No worries. I’m the CEO of a major corporation then. Any questions?

    I’m not buying it. CEOs are sharp. Sharp guys would appreciate the chance to talk strategy in a thoughtful thread.

  • sochoice

    • 2017 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2017 FanDuel WFFC Champion

    @jjwd said...

    I’m not buying it. CEOs are sharp. Sharp guys would appreciate the chance to talk strategy in a thoughtful thread.

    I would too. When was the last time you had a thoughtful discussion with an anonymous source when there is no reason to be anonymous? Perhaps with your anonymous plumber? Or anonymous financial advisor? Or maybe your anonymous doctor? That’s where I’m coming from. If you get something out of this, that’s your business. Just know the chances you are in a legit discussion with a true successful high stakes DFS pro is very low. At least that is what my anonymous HVAC technician told me after checking my furnace.

  • jjwd

    @sochoice said...

    I would too. When was the last time you had a thoughtful discussion with an anonymous source when there is no reason to be anonymous?

    Yes, your point is obvious. And my point should be obvious too: if you’re skeptical, challenge the guy. Turn the thread into a productive discussion.

  • HopscotchAnon

    @sochoice said...

    I would too. When was the last time you had a thoughtful discussion with an anonymous source when there is no reason to be anonymous? Perhaps with your anonymous plumber? Or anonymous financial advisor? Or maybe your anonymous doctor? That’s where I’m coming from. If you get something out of this, that’s your business. Just know the chances you are in a legit discussion with a true successful high stakes DFS pro is very low. At least that is what my anonymous HVAC technician told me after checking my furnace.

    To prevent this devolving, I’ll respond to this just once. Unlike your examples, I am not selling a service or product, where a known reputation allows you to sell more. And contrary to your assertion, there are indeed many reasons to remain anonymous. If you choose to not believe me, that is fine, but I would prefer to keep this discussion about DFS rather than my identity.

  • Pandamonious

    • Moderator

    • 2019 Blogger of the Month

    I just thought I’d interject for a minute here..

    Before HopscotchAnon did this they reached out to me for permission to do so, and did so respectfully.

    I don’t know who they are and did not ask for proof of anything. If someone wants to remain anonymous, that’s up to them. Anyone who has played DFS for a few years knows there are a few top of the top DFS players who have no other known presence then when we see them near or at the top of the standings every few nights. They don’t have their results linked or accounts on RG. They’re not on Twitter. They’re completely unknown.

    Anyway, my point was, I have no reason not to believe them. They really have nothing to gain here by lying. Someone who is an attention seeker, well this is an odd way to go about it. Especially even more so to ask permission to do it.

    So, while I’m as curious as anyone to who “HopscotAnon” is, I respect their decision to go about it this way, and would like all to do the same. For people who do choose to believe them and want to ask questions and have good discussion let them. If you choose not to believe them, then I ask you to respectfully just leave things be and not get involved in taking away from the point of the thread.

  • OttawaCityMadman

    Getting the popcorn popping. Waiting for the inevitable Collusion questions…

    Well I will get the ball rolling. HA, what’s your thoughts on, and have you ever seem collusion in your experience?

  • factorial89

    plenty of collusion. remember that guy condia a few yrs. ago.

  • HopscotchAnon

    @OttawaCityMadman said...

    Getting the popcorn popping. Waiting for the inevitable Collusion questions…

    Well I will get the ball rolling. HA, what’s your thoughts on, and have you ever seem collusion in your experience?

    Inevitable is right! As you would suspect, collusion is quite a sensitive subject, so I will certainly not name names and try to stay high-level.

    Just so we are all on the same page, I view collusion as knowingly circumventing the entry limits imposed by the sites to gain an unfair advantage. For example, two different users creating a portfolio of 300 unique lineups and each entering half of them, or knowing each other’s lineups so as not to replicate them. Simply sharing projections and thoughts on the slate would not be collusion. As well, from a mathematical perspective, colluding would generally reduce ROI, but also reduce the variance of returns (and the lower the variance of returns the better).

    Currently, among medium- to high-volume pros, I don’t think there is any meaningful collusion. Solo play is profitable enough that it would not be worth the risk of being banned to collude. Sites also have extremely strong incentive to prevent collusion (for example, there was a big incident in the NFL last year that brought a lot of negative unwanted attention). A site reducing the play of a colluding group is far less damaging to profits than national headlines about collusion.

    There are ways to try and detect collusion, for those with access to data and that are interested. First, you can calculate lineup overlap in tournaments, the idea being collusion done well would have very little overlap (sure, minor overlap can be done to throw off the scent, but every replicated lineup is counter to the purpose of colluding). Overlap among some pros is surprisingly high. Second, you can calculate how similar their player exposures are across tournaments. Players that share projections will have similar exposures, so this method is less effective. But players with very little overlap and very similar exposure would be suspect – I see very little of this nowadays.

    There were some groups in years past that I had suspicions about, but I no longer have those suspicions (due to changes in play, volume, correlations, and perhaps ultimately intervention by the sites). I really wish the sites would be more public about their collusion investigations, but there are likely a myriad of legal reasons to just deal with it behind the scenes.

    And for other responders of a different view, instead of throwing out allegations, please try to provide some sound reasoning. Speculation is not productive.

  • mandrzejewski

    • Ranked #79

      RG Tiered Ranking

    Thanks HA for starting this thread. I am a somewhat casual player (been ratcheting things up a little since the restart) and struggle with cash games. I don’t like them but still am trying to tinker with things to get a positive ROI. Starting to get a little better with higher variant sports (NHL for example) but am terrible at NBA. My question is this. Do you think a DFS player can be long term profitable, say a year time frame, playing just GPP’s and scrapping cash? And what are your percentage of cash versus GPP?

  • Southie777

    I must say, when I first saw this I rolled my eyes and thought, “Well, this person is a little presumptuous.” But I’ve come around and think this is interesting and thank you for it. If you’re a fraud, then I’m a naive fool and it is what it is.

  • HopscotchAnon

    @mandrzejewski said...

    Thanks HA for starting this thread. I am a somewhat casual player (been ratcheting things up a little since the restart) and struggle with cash games. I don’t like them but still am trying to tinker with things to get a positive ROI. Starting to get a little better with higher variant sports (NHL for example) but am terrible at NBA. My question is this. Do you think a DFS player can be long term profitable, say a year time frame, playing just GPP’s and scrapping cash? And what are your percentage of cash versus GPP?

    No problem! I barely play cash games. I don’t think they are generally worthwhile. My ROI tends to be lower, and there isn’t enough volume, so my GPP percentage is nearing 100% nowadays.

    Yes, you can absolutely be profitable playing just GPPs. But they have more day-to-day variance, so you want to do whatever you can to even out your returns. My suggestion: take some single digit percentage of your bankroll each day, and enter as many lineups as possible in the highest entry-limit contests you can, even if that means playing low entry-fee contests. If you have an edge, it will be apparent far faster doing it that way than playing low-entry limit, high entry-fee contests. And it will also keep you saner. A year of entering as many lineups as your bankroll will allow should certainly show profit (with an edge).

    Quick edit: one of the scary things about scaling up is that very high entry-fee tournaments (>$300) tend to have pretty low entry limits, and your success will generally have been in the opposite style of tournaments. You can backtest all you want on historical standings and results to show you should be profitable at that level, but it is still nerve-wracking to have a significant portion of your entry fees in only a few lineups.

  • Russthabus26

    Why hasn’t anyone said this better not be Seth MF’n Yates being a troll douchebag.

  • Southie777

    @Russthabus26 said...

    Why hasn’t anyone said this better not be Seth MF’n Yates being a troll douchebag.

    🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂 100% thought this!

  • jjwd

    @HopscotchAnon said...

    Quick edit: one of the scary things about scaling up is that very high entry-fee tournaments (>$300) tend to have pretty low entry limits, and your success will generally have been in the opposite style of tournaments.

    If your player exposure only changes according to the amount of entries allowed, then how much are you diversifying your player exposures within a small high buy-in tournament? Are you simply entering your top few projected lineups?

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