Welcome back to The Daily Grind, the place where I will be discussing all the happenings in Daily Fantasy Sports on a weekly basis. The Daily Grind will be my voice to help you through the constantly changing DFS landscape as I highlight important news, free articles, resources, potential overlay situations, great contests to play and more every week. The emphasis here will be first to cover the four sites that we partnered with this year (FanDuel, DraftKings, FantasyAces and FantasyScore), but I will still discuss major news and contests beyond those sites when applicable.
DFS LESSON OF THE WEEK – GPP TOURNAMENT PAYOUT STRUCTURES
This week here at The Daily Grind I wanted to talk about GPPs (Guaranteed Prize Pools, or Tournaments). Even with December now here and most of the bigger contests wrapping up, there are still plenty of DFS tournaments to enter into, but which ones? This is a question I get asked quite often, and while I would love to say that there is an easy answer, the truth is that it all depends on what you are shooting for when you look at GPP tournaments.
Before I get into how I evaluate tournaments, I will say this – tournaments are like snowflakes. No two of them are ever exactly alike. Well, that’s almost always true, but quite often FanDuel or DraftKings will repeat a tournament each week that looks very similar to the prior week. A word of caution though – just because FanDuel runs another “Sunday Million” or DraftKings runs another “Slant”, that does not mean that the payouts and tournament structure, or even the buy-in price, is the same as last time. You really have to look at each GPP individually to decide which ones you like and which you do not.
So where do you begin? Great question. I’ve seen this question posed numerous times, and over at Rotogrinders I’ve even seen a few attempts to define the best GPP payout structure, but I will throw a flag on this first example and tell you why after I tell you how to really evaluate a tournament. What I do is I try and look at the entire payout structure from top to bottom and decide what a realistic return would be if I finished at the very top, near the top and in the money for that tournament. To do that, I have to see what the entry fee is, how the top payouts (not necessarily the Top 10) are paid, and where certain entry fee multipliers are paid out for the entrants.
As usual, this is best illustrated with a few examples, and this is the perfect week to do it. To show you what I mean about how different GPPs can be structured, I decided to use two tournaments for the NFL that FanDuel is running this weekend – a Saturday NFL Rush and a Sunday NFL Rush. Why? Well, part of a good comparison is to reduce the number of variables. Here I have the same sport, site and entry fee ($5), so the only differences are the size of the contest and the prize pool. In fact, the commission (“rake”) for each contest is 13% for both, so that’s the same as well, so we are really just down to the payout structure – which is exactly what we want to compare. Let’s begin.
First, I want to look at the very top prize. Is it around 10% of the total payouts? The Sunday NFL Rush is $100,000 for a $1.2M total payout, or 8.3%, while the Saturday version is $2,500 out of $25,000 (exactly 10%). Close enough, and a good start. If it is too much higher than 15%, I can expect a very top-heavy GPP, which clearly favors first place but hurts the expected return for entering since the odds of finishing exactly first are pretty steep. Next I look at a few points along the payout structure, starting with how deep the payouts go. Somewhere in the 17-23% range is what I hope for (meaning 17% to 23% of the entrants win something) as that also indicates a typical and reasonably flat payout structure. Both of these GPPs in this example hit that mark (Sunday is 19.2%, Saturday is 20.6%), so we can move towards the full payout evaluation.
Here is where the math can get a little tricky, so I like to define certain points along the payout structure to check to see how the payout curve looks. The payout curve is how quickly or slowly the prizes go down from the top prize. If a tournament pays 75% of the money to the Top 5 and everyone else in the payout zone just doubles their money, then there really is very little incentive to play that GPP because of the steep payouts at the top of the winners list and how hard it likely will be to get there. Some people like to look at the Top 10 or compare first, second and third place, but I think that is not the right way to go. The reason is pretty simple, as shown with these two contests in our example. The Sunday NFL Rush is 48 times as large as the Saturday NFL Rush, so comparing Top 10s from the Saturday contest to the Sunday contest is not apples to apples. Saturday’s Top 10 represents almost 2% of the field, while Sunday’s Top 10 is 0.004% of the entrants. The better way is to compare GPPs by percentage of the entrants to see what they get. I like to use 0.1% as the “elite” metric for the GPP, but also check 1% and 0.01% if it is a really big GPP. The last one loses importance for smaller GPPs like the Saturday NFL Rush since 0.01% reflects only first place. Looking at the 0.1% of the field is relatable, as it says “if I am one in a thousand in this GPP, what can I expect to win?” That’s a reasonable question to ask, and reflects a great comparison point for GPPs.
I also like to look at multipliers within a GPP – points at which I will get at least a given multiple of what my entry fee was. For a $5 contest like these, I will look at how well I have to do to get anywhere from twice my entry fee all the way to 20 times ($100) back. Some DFS players will look at this as a negative way of thinking, because the point of going in a GPP is to try and win the big prize and finish at or near the top, but I tend to think that it is still good to know what a Top 5-10% finish will likely bring me in case I don’t win first or second. Other DFS players will complain that the returns at some points of the payout curve are weaker in some of these GPPs than a triple-up or double-up, but if that is the desired return, that is what they should be playing. The goal again of GPPs is to win many times your entry fee, not just 2-3 times. That complaint is a viewpoint of a cash game player, not a GPP player, so if that is your outlook, stick to playing more multiplier contests and fewer GPPs. I don’t mean to sound harsh about it, but GPPs are not about trying to double or triple your money. They are about getting big prizes for relatively lower entry fees. I will say this though, I do not like how some GPPs are structured to give more players payouts at the lower end just to say that they pay out 25% or more of their entrants. GPP players are not interested in getting their $5 back, or winning $6 or $7 for a $5 entry in most cases. Tournaments would be better served, in my opinion, of paying no less than twice the entry fee as a prize payout.
Enough talk now – let’s look at the numbers for these two contests. Here are two tables that outline the payout points for both contests as a function of a multiple of the entry fee and also as a percentage of the entrants in the contest.
$1.2M Sunday NFL Rush
|Entry%||Prizes||% of Prizes||# of Winners|
$25K Saturday NFL Rush
|Entry%||Prizes||% of Prizes||# of Winners|
As you can see from Table 1 for the Sunday NFL Rush, it is much more top heavy in payouts than the Saturday version in Table 2. The Top 0.1% on Sunday will walk away with over 30% of the prize money, while the best 0.1% on Saturday get under 24%. Also take note that we are talking about 276 winners on Sunday vs. just six for Saturday. Now you can see why I favor discussing a percentage of the prize winners and not a Top 10. This is where I'll differ a bit with our friend and DFS Expert Al Smizzle where Al laid out what he felt was the ideal GPP payout structure on Twitter. I greatly appreciate the attempt, but I do not think that there is a one size fits all answer. Focusing on first, second and third place prizes and their relative payouts is much more relevant in smaller GPPs than it is in big field contests. To his credit, Ganondorf built upon Al’s idea and expressed the different payout structures and curves on Rotogrinders, showing how you do need to look at the full payout structure for each GPP, like I am pointing out in the two tables above.
Lastly, let’s look at the multiplier lines for each contest in our example. I find it interesting that the 5x ($25 or more) line is comparable for both contests – 2.2 to 2.3% of the entrants win at least $25 in both. You can tell right away that the Saturday contest payout structure is flatter from top to bottom by looking at the 3x and 2x lines, since Saturday winners of $15 or more is nearly twice (9.2%) that of Sunday’s winners (4.7%) and over twice on Saturday (20.6%) than on Sunday (9.1%) for $10 or more.
In my own experience, I have found that smaller GPPs tend to have flatter payouts (less at the top, more at the bottom) than the bigger GPPs. This is typical of contests even on the same site, and especially if the first GPP fills up and a second GPP is launched for more people to play (such as a “Rush #2”). I am sure that there are counter examples of this, but as a general rule that is the trend. I hope that the tables and examples given here help you to evaluate and compare tournaments in the future and leads you to bigger and better DFS success.
DFS LEGAL REPORT
Fortunately this has been a relatively quiet week on the DFS legal front. I almost deleted this section this week but wanted to include it only because it has been such a major topic for DFS all year long and I wanted to make sure that I mentioned that it was a quiet week. I am not ignoring the legal issues with DFS, and the court cases are still continuing, but at least for now we can focus on the games for the near future.
FOOTBALLGUYS AND DFS COVERAGE FOR 2015
You know the deal by now - Footballguys has a ton of DFS coverage this year. Whether it is our two e-books that cover FanDuel (“Cracking FanDuel”) and DraftKings (“Cracking DraftKings”), or the 50+ articles a week we produce to cover all four major sites each week – we have it all covered. All this articles are linked in our Daily Crusher App that continues to be one of he best ways that DFS players can create lineups for cash games and tournaments and also get deep analysis on their rosters, likelihood of winning and exposure to various players. Once you start using this, it will be hard to imagine how you ever lived without it. I'm still learning all the different ways to use this great tool both by experimenting with it and with the help of our Daily Crusher Manual and I can already see its immense value to me as both a cash game and GPP player.
There's a ton more coverage we have this season for DFS, too much to outline in The Daily Grind, but we have a large section dedicated to each of our sponsor sites listed below.
We even added new video content for 2015. In a partnership with Rotogrinders, you can now see both John Lee and Austin Lee with Dan Back on The Footballguys Rotogrinders Hour. It is a great show with lots of insight. Check it out!
Of course, if you are a bigger fan of The Audible, we have both FanDuel and DraftKings shows for DFS coverage for each site as well. Be sure to subscribe to these weekly podcasts to get your weekends rolling for the NFL DFS slate.
BIG CONTESTS FOR WEEK 15
December is here and the NFL regular season is winding down, but there is still plenty of action over at FanDuel. There are tons of contests available, staring with this week's $1.75 Sunday Million Contest where someone will win $175,000 for just a $25 entry all the way down to the NFL Sunday Rush, wherr a $5 entry to this contest can win you $100,000 for first place. What a value that one is. Also, don't forget that there is a game on Saturday so be sure to check out Saturday games, including a 5-game slate of college football! More contests are highlighted on our FanDuel contests page, so dig in and have some fun and hopefully win some extra cash at the same time.
This is the big week over at DraftKings with the $15M FFWC Contest, where 200 entrants will be whittled down to just 10 finalists that will compete in Los Angeles for a $5M first place prize. What an event that is turning out to be.
Now for those of us not heading to San Diego this week, DraftKings still has plenty of GPP contests for both the NFL and college action. There is the $5M Millionaire Maker, where someone will turn $20 into $1Million by Tuesday. Also, as I have said all year long, one of my favorite tournaments is the NFL Slant at a price point of just $9. where you can win as much as $20,000. There' are also several giant 50/50 contests in the lobby as well, including a $10 entry with over 6,000 winners about to get $20 Tuesday morning. Lots of contests and lots of money to be had in Week 15, so get those lineups ready.
Even though the Live Finals for both college and NFL are complete, additional contests still exist for FantasyAces for the rest of the NFL season, such as the $30,000 Hail Mary for just $22 a team! Plenty of contests are being added daily to the FantasyAces lobby, so be sure and visit them for the latest contests available.
FantasyAces also has an interesting format called SalaryPro, where you get bonus points for staying furhter and further under the salary cap. More and more are trying out this unique format, so be sure to check out the lobby over at FantasyAces for contests that use this rule.
FantasyScore is offering up a GPP with a twist this year. If you can finish in the Top 3 in their Fantasy Football Championship Satellite, you can grab an elusive golden ticket for an entry towards the Week 16 championship game where $25,000 will be awarded. Another way to get a ticket is to go after the $20 entry satellite that is giving away four tickets. Check out all of these contests and more at our FantasyScore page.
Footballguys has you covered here - both in major DFS announcements and the tools you need to build winning lineups.
Thanks as always for reading The Daily Grind, and good luck this week.