DFS Contest Selection 101


Contest selection is crucial to success in daily fantasy sports. I touched on it briefly in my bank roll management article back in January.

For today’s strategy session, I’m going to go over and hopefully give you a solid understanding of how to choose the right contests in DraftKings.

As mentioned in the article above there are really two types of contests..

You have GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) Tournaments. In these contests, you have the ability to reel in a large sum of money, but are significantly less likely to surpass the cash line in general. An example of occurrence was last nights $5 – 150 max tournament. 19.34% of contestants cashed with the high-end paying out $100,000, and the brunt of the cash line just $10.

Almost 100,000 people didn’t cash, and that is before we even account for mass entries.

In Cash Games, we have the opportunity to enter Single Entry Double Ups for $5 where 43% of the contest won $5 plus their $5 initial investment. As you can see, your chances of winning are far likelier in a cash game, (which range from a 40-50% cash rate) vs 17-24% in GPPs.

Single Entry vs. Mass Entry Contests

It is crucial that you understand that mass entering a contest doesn’t necessarily increase your odds of winning, it simply increases the amount of money you can potentially win.

For example, if you were to mass entry the $5 – 150 max entrant GPP as stated above, you would need to sacrifice $750. You would need half of your rosters to surpass the cash line (and the lowest payout) just to break even (at a probability of 17-24%). The reason why high volume players do this is to maximize the coverage of the pool of players that their algorithm supplies them. With my algorithm, I have a model which spits out 10-40 players projected above 5x value. I know right away that I can’t cover all of my model’s combinations, but I can certainly identify a core (similar to how we do at theDPA) and then use the rest of the pool to create 150 unique lines if I want.
In these contests you need to make a decision if losing to mass entry players such as Chipotle Addict and Awesemo 150 times each is worth the chance to win huge money. This is a risk and investment that most players are not willing to take on.

Single Entry Contests

Here is where I invest a lot of my money; You can still play GPPs, but eliminating the possibility of sharks with every combo possible is integral to DFS success if you are playing smaller hands.
By restricting the ability of sharks to max out a contest and clog the prize slots, you naturally have a better shot at cashing yourself. For GPPs, larger single entry contests are generally more favorable, whereas for cash games, I will target smaller pools.

Higher Entry Fee Contests = Easier to Win

This one is interesting because you would probably assume that it’s the other way around, but generally cashing slots in $50+ entry fee contests are less than cashing in lower dollar GPPs. This has to do with the fact that while high volume players will still max these contests, it limits the number of players who will actually max enter them. To max out a $50+ contest with 150 rosters, you are spending $7500 on a single contest. Thus, players who tend to max enter contests tend to do so at lower entry fees. The single entry contests also permit a lower cashing score when the entry fee is north of $50. These contests are also oftenly avoided by casual players, so you get much less variance of off the wall picks. This is answers the question is it better to single entry a $50 gpp or play 10 in a $5 contest. When it comes down to choosing between a single entry $50 GPP or submitting 10 entries to a $5 contest, go with the single $50 GPP.

Monitoring Overlay

Our very own Oaktown told us about how he maximized overlay to win Tickets to the Superbowl, and turned $300 into $3000 by taking advantage of satellites.
Overlay occurs when guaranteed contests are about to start and don’t completely fill. For example, you have a 3,000 person guaranteed prize pool which pays out the top 1000 places. This yields a 33% shot at cashing, however if that 3,000 person contest only has 2,550 entries by lock, your chances of cashing increase to 39% as the contest will still pay out 1,000 contestants, yet now only has a pool of 2,550 to draw from. Always scroll through DraftKings Tournament lobby in the minutes leading up to the lock of the slate.  I have seen 10 man contests (especially on the late slates) with a $50 entry that only have 6 people signed up at lock. This equates to 4 out of 6 people cashing, rather than 4 out of 10. Moral of the story: don’t sleep on overlay.

Tune in every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for more from Z-Will as he breaks down his cheat sheets for all major slates of the NBA season – exclusively on theDPA.