Tournaments

Cracking DraftKings: Tournament Contests (From Chapter 2)

Tournaments

By John Lee and Jeff Pasquino 

 

If you're practicing sound bankroll management, cash games will represent 80-90%of your weekly action, but it‘s the other 10-20% of your play in tournaments that can change your life in an instant. Tournaments live on the opposite end of the risk-reward spectrum from cash games and meet the following three criteria:

1. The prize pool is guaranteed. Even if the contest doesn't completely fill, the guaranteed prize pool (GPP) will still pay out the top finishers as if the contest was filled completely. For this reason, people often refer to tournaments as GPPs even though some cash games also have guaranteed prize pools.

2. The prize pool is not level. It‘s tiered, with first place receiving the largest prize and then the prizes descend downward.

3. Fewer than 30% of the entrants win a prize.

The smallest tournaments usually have no fewer than 45 entrants and are reserved for the heftiest buy-ins.The largest contests exceed 100,000 entries, and the buy-ins for these massive tournaments generally range from $1 to $27. The prize structure will vary from contest to contest, so read the details carefully before entering.

Playing in tournaments can be a bit daunting at first with thousands of entries and a top-heavy prize structure. Sometimes you'll have a strong week and still not cash. That‘s why it‘s wise to spend a small percentage of your bankroll on tournaments, but don't avoid them entirely.

Prize pools have grown rapidly over the years, and the largest tournaments now award several million dollars in prizes. DraftKings is known for pushing the envelope for their substantial prize pools, as evidenced by their crowning of at least a dozen millionaires during NFL season in 2014 during their Millionaire Maker campaign! DraftKings also offers non-monetary prizes on occasion as a result of their many partnerships with professional sports teams and organizations; for example, DraftKings has awarded winners of contests with a seat into the World Series of Poker, others have won Meet and Greets with Tiger Woods, some winners have enjoyed the honor of throwing the first pitch at Major League Baseball games, and one lucky winner in the Summer of 2015 won the opportunity to play in an official PGA Pro-Am tournament with a professional golfer on the PGA tour! These latter opportunities are primarily unique to DraftKings and represent a fantastic change-of-pace from standard monetary-based payouts. 

In later chapters, we'll outline plenty of strategies for increasing your odds of atop-tiertournament finish, but let‘s first take a tour of some of DraftKings‘ tourneys from Week 16 of the 2014 NFL season:

Entry Fee

# of Entries

Prize Pool

1st Place

% Paid

% Rake

$0.25

117600

$25,000.00

$2,000.00

20.1

17.6

$0.25

4700

$1,000.00

$100.00

21.3

17.5

$1.00

17250

$15,000.00

$1,000.00

20.0

15.0

$2.00

57500

$100,000.00

$10,000.00

20.0

15.0

$2.00

2875

$5,000.00

$500.00

20.9

15.0

$5.00

34500

$150,000.00

$15,000.00

20.4

15.0

$5.00

3450

$15,000.00

$1,000.00

20.3

15.0

$5.00

1150

$5,000.00

$500.00

19.6

15.0

$12.00

14250

$150,000.00

$20,000.00

20.0

14.0

$12.00

1425

$15,000.00

$2,000.00

19.3

14.0

$12.00

475

$5,000.00

$750.00

18.9

14.0

$27.00

126000

$3,000,000.00

$1,000,000.00

20.4

13.4

$50.00

333

$15,000.00

$2,500.00

19.5

11.0

$75.00

148

$10,000.00

$1,000.00

26.4

11.0

$100.00

3333

$300,000.00

$50,000.00

21.9

11.1

$100.00

222

$20,000.00

$2,000.00

20.3

11.0

$100.00

55

$5,000.00

$1,100.00

20.0

10.0

$200.00

138

$25,000.00

$5,000.00

19.6

10.4

$530.00

60

$30,000.00

$8,000.00

20.0

6.0

$530.00

20

$10,000.00

$4,000.00

20.0

6.0

$1,060.00

100

$100,000.00

$20,000.00

20.0

6.0

$5,300.00

15

$75,000.00

$30,000.00

26.7

6.0

This isn't an exhaustive table, but it shows DraftKings‘ variety of tournament sizes and buy-in amounts while highlighting some prize structure similarities. All winners in these contests will at least double their money, which isn't always the case with tournaments on other host sites. Roughly 20% of entrants will win, and first place will walk away with about 17% of the total prize pool on average. You will note that DraftKings‘ commission starts at nearly 18% for their Quarter Arcade GPP, but drops dramatically for high-rollers (6% at the $530 price point and higher), and was just a touch higher than 12% over this entire sample.

In order to achieve these massive prize pools, DFS sites often allow multi-entering, which lets a single person enter multiple rosters into the same contest in order to increase their odds of winning the grand prize. This practice is often frowned upon by novices because it would appear to be an unfair advantage for those playing with large bankrolls, but don't let multi-entry intimidate you.  Multi-entering is based on building additional lineups that are suboptimal. If you enter more than one lineup into a contest, every entry after the first one will include players that you originally thought would be less likely to win the tournament. In a later chapter, we'll talk about the sweet spot for the number of rosters that will increase your odds of winning a large GPP, but for now just know that there is a threshold for diminishing returns. 

If the notion of competing against multiple entries from a single person dissuades you from entering such contests, you can enter single-entry contests instead. Just know that the prize pools for single-entry tournaments won't be nearly as big as the epic,multi-entry contests.