DraftKings Investigating Millionaire Maker Winner

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On Sunday, “papagates” took down the $1 million first place prize in the Week 3 Week 3 DraftKings Millionaire Maker. A top daily fantasy player, papagates is among the many players who take advantage of DraftKings 150 entry limit in certain contests such as the Millionaire Maker.

After the contest, his win arose suspicion from followers of DFS because his brother, chipotleaddict, also won the same contest in October. The concern is that the brothers may have colluded when creating their lineups in Week 3 by making sure there was little overlap in their lineups. This could have been done to give one of the players a better chance at winning the top prize.

This news has has spread beyond the world of DFS to outlets such as the Wall Street Journal.

Fallout from the Controversy

Since, the papagates took down the prize, players on forums have been speculating about the possible wrongdoing.

There is no confirmation of wrongdoing, but the circumstances have led DraftKings to take the matter seriously. DrafKings Head of Compliance, Jennifer Aguiar stated that an investigation is ongoing and that if they did share lineups that would put them in violation of DraftKings rules. “That would effectively allow them to circumvent the site’s rules that limit the number of entries per person and that also prohibit collusion among users. If you are sharing lineups for the purpose of—for the lack of a better word—gaming the system, that is unacceptable.”

Some players have previously claimed that DraftKings has not done enough to investigate concern in previous contests. This is despite DraftKings recent clarification of the way it handles such matters. The industry has a whole has been under a microscope since the so-called data leak which occured during last year’s NFL season.

Matt Crowley aka chipotleaddict, denied any wrongdoing and stated that he and his brother communicated very little last week. Crowley told the Wall Street Journal that he understood the concerns given the two large wins but that we was “stunned and upset” of the allegations.

The Challenge for the DFS Industry

Regardless of whether there was or wasn’t any collusion, the case illustrates that full enforcement of rules and code of conduct can be extremely difficult to enforce. Friends and family are going to talk about daily fantasy sports, argue over their picks and probably even share some advice. In fact, it’s arguably one reason why sports fans love DFS so much and even one reason why DFS is becoming more social with social-friendly programs like DraftKings Leagues.

While some of the social aspect of the game is encouraged, the systematic effort to “game” the system is a different story entirely.

DraftKings only last month posted Community Guidelines which they aimed address some of the challenges in the policy. FanDuel released something similar called the Bill of Rights. Because of the sensitivity of the situation, DraftKings was quick to point out that there systems also detected the possible issues stating that their response “shows the site’s commitment to fair play the value of making lineup information publicly available.”

Conversations between friends and family about DFS can’t possibly be monitored, so a huge challenge in enforcement is still obvious. Another difficulty is drawing the line in the sand between harmless discussion and collusion between players to work the system. The industry needs a fair amount of self-policing combined with DraftKings and other DFS sites proving to players that they are going to be series about collusion even before an issue garners headlines. “We really value our community members and their ability to self-police. We are going to stay one or two steps ahead of anyone with ill intent,” said DraftKings spokesman Jason Alderman.

Why do players enter so many lineups?

To the casual observer, one might ask why many DFS players enter so many different lineups. Unlike 50/50s or head to head contests where a stable, high-value lineup is desired, in a large tournament, a lineup often wins with high point totals from overlooked players.

In guaranteed tournaments, or GPPs, there are often very large fields with a relatively large number of maximum entries. Because a single entry is likely to win, a participant lower their variance by using strategies that vary their lineups and focus on players that aren’t likely to be widely drafted. This is type of player that isn’t likely to put up many points, but if they do, could potentially put up a lot. Due to this fact, these lineups often focus on the “boom or bust” type of player, a lot of entries are needed to lower the variance.

This is how players can beats tens of thousands of other entries and win a life changing prize of $1 million. You vary enough lineups and pick your “boom or bust” players wisely you can potentially have that lineup that does really well, even if many of the others were duds.

Using multiple lineups in a given contest is a strategy that is perfectly allowed by the rules and even encouraged. Indeed, the practice of entering multiple lineups in a single contest is quite popular. In the Rotogrinders report from the Week 3 Millionaire Maker, only 33% of all entries were from players using a single lineup (although it should be noted that the overall % of players entering these contests is skewed because of the multiple contests entered..

Even though these contests are among the most popular with players, for those that don’t like entering these contests, there are contests available with lower maximum entries. The headline grabbing prize pools of the Millionaire Maker and Sunday Million at FanDuel have such large prize pools because players are able to enter a large number of contests.