If you’re not one of the best daily fantasy sports players on the planet, or you haven’t won a contest with a million-dollar guarantee yet, you should probably be exercising some degree of bankroll management.
If you’re not familiar with bankroll management, you should be. Much like any type of gaming or entertainment for money, you should adhere to a simple mantra: Only play with the money you can afford to lose.
This seems like a simple concept, of course, and it’s safe to guess that the majority of daily fantasy sports players aren’t dipping into their life savings to enter contests.
Also it’s easier to exert caution in DFS than it is in other forms of gaming — i.e. casino games, poker, etc. There’s less of a visceral, compulsive need to chase losses. Entering a real-money DFS contest isn’t as simple as laying down a bet at blackjack or going all-in in poker. You have to pick a contest, assemble a lineup, etc.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t potential pitfalls in using your money to play daily fantasy sports. Below, we take a look at some of the aspects of good bankroll management (BRM) and aggregate some advice from around the internet:
Don’t spend it all in one place
We’ll start with the obvious. Let’s say you budget $1,000 to play fantasy sports over the course of a year. Don’t spend a thousand dollars on one day of DFS contests.
Good bankroll management goes a little beyond that level of sophistication, however. You should figure out how much you feel comfortable playing each day (or each week, if you are not entering contests every day). Very good, or even average, DFS players can go on streaks where they win little or no money. You should be prepared for those streaks, and not count on winning every time out.
If you go through a bad streak that puts a dent in your bankroll, think about revising down the amount of money for your daily or weekly play. If things are going well, it’s OK to play a little more each day. Whatever you do, though, try to have a plan and be consistent. Leave yourself some wiggle room for playing more money, though. (See the section on overlays below.)
Get the most out of bonuses
You have a lot of options when you deposit at DFS sites, and that goes beyond just the big two of FanDuel and DraftKings. You can stretch your bankroll by getting the best possible deal when you deposit.
Many sites will match your deposit at a 100 percent rate; others can beat that rate, while others match a rate under 100 percent. Do your research before you decide to put money on a site, and weigh your options.
You should also be aware of what it takes to unlock a bonus. Pretty much no site offers money up front; you must unlock your bonus by playing in real-money contests. The rate of a bonus becoming available for play or withdrawal differs from site to site. Some offer rates as low as four percent, some as high as 20 percent.
We regularly post reviews that include information about bonuses at different sites, and how those bonuses unlock. Check back often as we add more sites to the reviews section.
A bonus doesn’t do you much good if you don’t have the ability to unlock it. Typically, a conservative bankroll strategy (entering contests where the return is lower, but more players receive money, like 50/50 contests) is the best one to employ when trying to unlock a full bonus. That leads us to our next subject…
More risk, more conservative BRM
This one should be obvious to most DFS players, but it’s worth covering.
If you’re playing in large field contests with large prize pools, your expectation of receiving money goes down. If you’re playing in contests where you win less money or a larger percentage of the field gets paid, you’re playing in contests with less risk.
If you’re playing a lot of the former — guaranteed prize pool (GPP) contests — you want to employ a more conservative form of BRM. Looking for satellite events — smaller buy-in contests that allow you to enter larger buy-in contests — can be a good idea. If you’re playing more of the latter, it’s OK to spend a little more on each contest, because you are more likely to see a return on investment (ROI).
Let’s look at this way:
If you have $100 to play for a given day, you’d be much safer playing all $100 in a 50/50 contest, rather than a $100 GPP event. The best practice, in both cases, would be to spread out the $100 over several events, or even mixing them up with different types of contests. If you only play GPP events, play a lot of the small buy-in ($1-$10 events) while thinking about taking a shot at one or two slightly larger buy-in contests. ($20-$30). If you want to play a bunch of 50/50 contests, you should feel OK about spending your bankroll on a smaller number of contests, because of an increase in expected ROI, in general.
RotoGrinders provides some guidelines for BRM, based on the types of contests you play:
What I suggest is a method that looks at your total amount risked on any given night in relation to your overall capital or “bankroll”. To establish a base number to work off of, let’s say you enter a few similar teams into HU matches, double ups, and GPPs. HU and double ups require the smallest bankroll to play, as top players reach the money 55+% of the time. GPPs require a bigger bankroll as the payouts are top heavy and top players usually only cash 15-20% of the time.
Note that not all 50/50s and lower-risk contests are created equal. From an article at The Sporting News on bankroll management:
If you’re more conservative and focused on building your bankroll, stick to mostly 50/50 & head-to-head games while sprinkling in a few multipliers (triple-up or better) and tournaments. When entering 50/50 games, look for those with the largest amounts of entrants, preferably single entry. If you choose a 20-man 50/50 and find yourself playing against five of the best professionals, you shouldn’t need me to tell you that doesn’t have a profitable long-term outlook.
Finally, thefakebaseball.com offers a few different approaches to BRM, depending on your goals and desires.
Research less, spend less
Are you spending all day setting your lineups? Or are you taking 10 minutes right before the early games begin?
It should go without saying, if you’re not spending much time on lineups, you should be more conservative in how much you spend. If you feel good about how much time you have put into your lineups and you think you have put together good plays, you can be a little more aggressive with your buy-ins.
What you shouldn’t do? Spend the same amount no matter how much time you are working on that day’s DFS strategy.
Track your results
It’s really easy to just say or think you are a good DFS player. It’s easy to explain away losing some money on bad luck. But do you have any proof to back that up?
Over small sample sizes, you can do really well or really badly at DFS. But over the long-term, your results should point to how good you actually are at DFS. And you might be better at some types of contests than others (i.e. you win more money playing GPP games than 50/50s).
The only way to find out how good you are? Analyze your results. RotoWire has some advice for tracking your results:
I can’t stress how important this is. It doesn’t matter how you track your results, whether by computer or by primitive pen and paper. Some DFS sites actually let you to export your history in to an excel spreadsheet, which can be very useful to show your ROI.
Tracking your results should show you the types of games you are successful in, and how to make adjustments to strategies.
Once you know what you are good at, allocate your bankroll accordingly.
Look for value
When you are looking to deploy your bankroll in the world of daily fantasy sports, you should be looking for the spots where you get the most value for your money.
The easiest way to find value is overlays in GPP contests. We break down overlays — which occur in GPP contests where a site is forced to add its own money to the prize pool — here. Included are tools on where to find them and how to identify them. Overlays are a way to get extra value out of your entry fee, and you should seize opportunities to play in overlay events — as long as the contest in question isn’t far out of your bankroll restrictions.
In the end, most of what we covered above is common sense. Have a plan whenever you enter a contest for real money, and leave yourself some money to play another day, and you should be fine.