Transitioning from Season Long to DFS Part 3

The last part of my 3 part series on how I transitioned from season long leagues to DFS.

If you haven’t checked out part 1 and 2 of the series make sure you start there first as they set the foundation of how we are going to build our bankroll by making smart game selections, utilizing and building our specific skillsets and checking our results against other solid players.  

Bankroll management

One of the biggest things that has led me to success is being patient and utilizing sound bankroll management. I wrote about this in more details in the past  but in summary you should most likely play less on high risk contests than you are playing each week. This doesn’t mean you should be moving money from high risk tournaments to low risk cash games. If you recall from part 1 our split between different games should be based on how well we are performing at each of the different game types not because of some predetermined allocation.

Instead it means that if your allocation is going to skew more heavily towards high risk tournaments then you need to decrease the amount of money you are playing each week and make smart bankroll decisions because with high risk games you are going to see more volatility in your results.  There have been several weeks that have been complete disasters for me like when I lost $40,000 last year in a single week due to some injuries on players that I was heavily invested in. If I had not been conservative with my bankroll those types of weeks could have completely wiped me out and I would constantly be starting over the process of building my bankroll.

This is why I highly recommend playing a specific percentage of your bankroll and not deviating from that no matter how big or how small your bankroll gets. You can use some of the calculations that I provided in my linked article above or you can use a general rule of thumb and say that you are going to play about 10% of your bankroll if you are playing cash games or 5% if you are playing tournaments. A lot of people ask me, “So if I deposit $100 I can only play $10 per week?” The answer to this is “it depends”. Does this $100 represent all the money you are willing to lose in DFS? If so then the answer is yes you should only play $10 in any given week. But if the real answer is I really have $1,000 in my bank account that I am willing to lose then you could realistically wager that full $100 but just be ready to reload if you have a rough week. Just like how you wouldn’t spend all of your money in an auction on 2-3 players don’t put it all on one to two games in DFS.

Take a contrarian approach to tournaments

Just because you are being patient with your bankroll doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taking chances, especially when you are playing tournaments. Most tournaments pay out over 10% of the prize pool to first place finishers and some like live finals qualifiers can go all the way up to 90% of the money to first. When playing contests that are so top heavy you need to take some chances. A lot of players are taking information from the same places. A lot of those places look at each other’s rankings causing a circular reasoning issue and the DFS community comes to a consensus on what the best players are. Often times these are the correct plays. However, even the best plays are only successful at the level you need them to be about 20% of the time in tournaments. This means that if you go against the grain you can surpass a lot of players very quickly. This is a perfect place to use your special skills to identify the player that no one else has and will catapult you to the top of the standings. I suggest as you build your tournament lineups that you build at least one or two players that you haven’t seen represented very much in any articles all week long but rate highly on the metric that you are specializing at. I talked about this theory in a lot more details here.

Dominating cash games

This year I am going to be writing about how I am building my cash lineups each week at Fanduel. What I am not going to tell you is this is the lineup you should be playing each week. There are several reasons for this but the biggest is that I don’t really believe there is an optimal lineup that you should be using every week. When sites are building their prices every week they take a look at what teams the players are playing and how favorable their matchup is. This makes their pricing fairly efficient and will often make several players valued approximately the same. This leads me to an approach that says if I really want to optimize my cash game play I should play the players that are the best value (my core players) in a very high percentage of my lineups and then rotate players that are very close to together in my other lineups.

This is a different approach than you will hear from most pros who recommend playing one “optimal lineup”. There are several reasons why I think playing multiple lineups is the best approach. First of all, as I mentioned there are probably a handful of a players that are significantly better values than the rest of the field. These players should be your core players and in all of your lineups. But there are less of these core players than most people think, most weeks there may only be 2-3 of these types of guys. At the other positions the best guy that doesn’t make your first lineup may be just as good of value as the guys that are in your lineup due to salary constraints or at a minimum within a fraction of being into the lineup. So by going to your secondary lineup you may be dropping your optimal lineup by something like 0.1 points which is all rounding differences. In fact not only is your second lineup likely this close so is your third, fourth, fifth, and even your top 20 lineups are well within range of good lineups. Since the various top lineups are approximately the same if we play multiple cash lineups it gives us a few more opportunities to hit the upside contests like quintuple ups now we aren’t relying on just one lineup to win those contests we have given ourselves more outs.

Secondly, playing more lineups stabilizes your results. Some people argue this is less “skillful” than playing a single lineup but it is actually the opposite. The reason it is a lot more skillful is that you reach your long term expected return a lot quicker. If you are a below average player it is easy to get lucky and hit a winning lineup for a couple of weeks in a row. But if you are entering several lineups you won’t be able to keep that streak together. However, on the other hand if you are skilled player you may get unlucky and create a terrible lineup but if you have a more diverse set of players you will succeed more often. Since our goal is to be more skilled than average we should be looking at ways to take advantage of that skill and playing more lineups with small deviations fit that quality.

Finally, if you are playing several lineups you will have some that do really well and others that aren’t so good but by playing several lineups you will gather more data points on how good you really are at making lineups. Let’s say for example that you played 20 lineups every week and your friend played one. At the end of the season you will have 340 data points telling you how good you are at all of the different game types and your friend will only have 17. In fact after a few weeks you will have gained more data points than he will have all season. This gives you an improved process of selecting games and you can maximize that skill.

All of these are good reasons to play more than one cash lineup and why when I write my articles this year you will see me tell you what players you should be starting your lineup building process with and then from there which players you should be considering as you fill your various other positions with. I am not going to recommend you have to play 20 lineups every week even if I think your results will be fine if you build a big core but I do strongly believe you should be playing at least 3 different cash lineups each week. We haven’t talked about tournament lineups but it goes without saying that I think the best approach for tournaments is to play more lineups than most suggest since it will give you the best chance to let your skill show in the quickest manner possible.

With good patience and a fair amount of effort you should be able to follow the steps I have outlined in this series and be able to successfully transition from a season long player to a DFS player. If you have any questions or feedback please let me know on twitter @stevebuzzard or via email at