There’s plenty of talk in the industry around big cash prizes and live finals. There’s endless stories about players entering hundreds of lineups into GPPs. You can find hundreds of articles on bankroll management. The one thing that few people like to talk about is ROI. That’s return on investment for those who are unfamiliar. Literally, how much you can expect to make in return on your entry fees. Obviously the higher the ROI, the better. I want to present four simple ways that you can increase your ROI without becoming a better player. These tips helped me and I know they can help you.
Only Use One Lineup
Let’s start with the tip that worked the best for me. It’s so easy to create multiple lineups. Almost too easy! I was a victim of wanting to have exposure to every possible player, so I would create a lineup to try and cover as many combinations as possible. When you are doing this for a sport like MLB, which has hundreds of eligible players a night, it’s easy to create more lineups than you originally intended. I am a firm believer that your first lineup is your best lineup. That’s the lineup that you spend all day tweaking, studying and grinding over. In theory, any lineup that you create after the first would be “worse”. If you thought that second lineup was better, it would have been your first!
The practice of creating one lineup is incredibly valuable. It forces you to make tough decisions and grow as a DFS player. Anthony Rizzo or Miguel Cabrera? Russell Westbrook or Steph Curry? When you are deciding between two players and the margin is close, it’s easy to make a lineup with both of them. Forcing yourself to make one lineup, forces you to make those tough decisions. It forces you to use your research and logic to determine one as the better play. That’s an excellent practice in decision-making. Doing that over and over again across every position for every sport, every day is going to improve your skill-set and DFS instincts. It’s EASY to create multiple lineups, don’t fall into that trap.
There is nothing wrong with taking that one lineup and entering it into multiple contests. That’s the best lineup you can create, you should enter it in as much as your bankroll dictates. There will certainly be nights that an injury derails your entire night but that is why bankroll management is so important. Over a larger sample size, you can expect a greater ROI with this method. As you feel more comfortable in making decisions, expand to two lineups, then three and so on as your confidence dictates.
Create Your Contests, Limit Your Exposure
Head-to-Head contests are the bread and butter for many DFS grinders. You only have to beat one person and you’re never worried about ownership numbers. When playing a large percentage of H2Hs, ROI is to most important metric in you becoming a winning player. Creating your own contests allows you to control your exposure. Many players don’t even realize that they can create their own contests instead of joining an already created contest.
By creating your own contest, you identify the exact sport, slate and buy-in that you want to play. Taking it one step further, you can control how many contents you will allow an opponent to take using this handy tool:
I recommend starting with one. That means if you have ten open contests, you will face ten different opponents. In turn, you will face ten different lineups which will lower your variance. This is a way to protect yourself against one player scooping all of your games and winning/losing all of the contests. That will limit your swings and protect your bankroll. As an added bonus, using this tool will protect you from one pro coming in and scooping all your games. This game is hard enough, we don’t need to add the extra disadvantage of having one of the top players in the world coming through and picking up every game they can, including yours!
You are looking every edge you can find, even if it’s only 0.5%. Extrapolating that over every H2H, every day, can turn you from an break-even or losing player to a winning player.
This goes hand-in-hand with the above tip, but is more specific towards GPPs. When you open the lobby and look at the featured tournaments, they are always going to be the ones with the largest prize pools. They are the sexy marketing tools that the sites use to entice their players. They always boast a large first place prize, but they always come with a ton of entrants. If you are serious about improving your ROI, I would consider playing the smaller GPPs. Let’s look at an example here:
Both of those tournaments are the $3 SharpShooter (NBA) on DraftKings. The top is the “featured” tournament that will always be at or near the top of the lobby. That boasts a $12,000 first prize if you can weave through 61,300 opponents. I’d recommend scrolling down the lobby and taking a look at entering the “Deep SharpShooter”. It has a much smaller prize pool but a much smaller field to navigate.
There are other major differences here as well. The main SharpShooter pays out 12,800 spots of 61,300 which is 20.8% of the field. The Deep SharpShooter boasts a much flatter payout structure, paying 765 of 1,916 entrants or 40% of the field. Now, many of the first payout spots in the Deep SharpShooter are simply winning $3, or getting their money back. However, think about that! Breaking even in DFS, like blackjack, is essentially winning. Think about all the times you finished just outside the money in a standard GPP. Wouldn’t you have loved to have you buy-in back? That’s exactly what the Deep SharpShooter is offering.
I know what you’re thinking, they must have taken a ton of the top prizes to pay out an additional 20% of the field. That’s not exactly true. The SharpShooter pays $12,000 to first which is 7.5% of the prize pool. The Deep SharpShooter pays $400 to first which is 8% of the prize pool. So the Deep SharpShooter offers double the amount of positions paid and a higher percentage of the prize pool for first place. That’s a win-win!
As an additional bonus, it is going to take a significant lower score to win the Deep SharpShooter than the regular SharpShooter. In those large fields, you tend to see all types of contrarian lineups and plenty of permutations. You are going to need close to the perfect lineup to actually win the thing. That’s not going to be nearly the case for the Deep version as there will simply be less lineups to compete with. Knowing the lobby and learning how it impacts you is going to make a huge difference in your returns.
Have A Plan, Stick To It
This sounds simple, but most DFS players to do not adhere to any plan. What sports are you going to play? How much of your bankroll are you going to risk on a nightly basis? How will you split that bankroll up across your contests? These are all questions that you should have answers to before entering a single lineup.
If you want to be successful as a DFS player, even if it’s grinding out an extra $20 a month, you need to practice proper bankroll management. Most would recommend never entering more than 10% of your bankroll into contests on a single night. I am a little more conservative and play more GPPs than usual, so my number is closer to the 3-5% range. This is going to allow you to withstand bad days or weeks without going broke. Also, it will allow you to gradually move up in buy-ins when your bankroll dictates.
Splitting up that bankroll is just as important as adhering to your constraints. The general rule of thump is to enter $4 worth of cash games (double ups, triple up, H2Hs) for every $1 worth of GPP that you enter. This accounts for the lower win-rate and built-in volatility in GPPs.
Just from a general viewpoint, it’s so easy to not have a plan. Or to start creating lineups and not adhering to that plan. I used to always get stuck saying “just one more lineup”. Or loving a slate and extending my exposure outside of my bankroll. The way to be successful is to create a strategy that works for you and employ it every single day.
This goes as deep as you want it to. Now, when I create multiple lineups, I plan out how much exposure I want to specific players. Maybe I want Russell Westbrook in 40% of my lineups, but James Harden in only 5%. Once I have created my exposure numbers, I can start creating lineups accordingly. It’s been a massive help for me in my DFS career.