Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The "Donkamentization" Of Daily Fantasy Sports

I think I know how Phil Ivey feels. Just a little bit.

When a good poker player looks at the field of 7,000+ the the WSOP main event, they realize it's a huge luck fest. Despite playing at the peak of their skill, they will need good cards at crucial points to advance.

Meanwhile, the players who think their shot in the WSOP is a springboard to fame, glory and recognition - well, those folks are usually guaranteed dead money.

How does this relate to daily fantasy sports?

I observed the $1400 baseball contest on Fan Duel this past Monday. This was the 1st "large field" contest I've seen in quite some time.

(The only thing that made this field "large" was the fact that they allowed multiple entries per player. I don't think they would have avoided an overlay if they stuck to a one entry per contest rule.)

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for large cash prizes. However, to win a contest versus 150 opponents (rosters) you need to have a perfect night. PERFECT.

Basically, every player on your roster must provide scoring above their relative value. (I believe that's what happened for the winner. He managed to outscore all eligible entries by about 20 points.)

I know that I can pick a roster projected to put up a huge score but will not. In fact, my projections put up GOOD scores regularly, but GREAT scores rarely. The idea is that a GOOD score will win often enough HU (or small field) to be profitable.

I started daily fantasy playing at Game Day Draft which offered daily freerolls for real money (usually $5). These freerolls would get 70-250 entries regularly. I played them every day for months and I believe I cashed twice. I was close plenty of times, but one roster spot didn't perform well enough to get me there.

All in all, I feel that these large field contests are donkaments, plain and simple. I don't think they represent skill in correlation to the prize money. I think fantasy players are attracted to the "fool's gold" of the large prize.

I do think that they should limit these contests to 1 entry. Do you remember the scandal several years ago when a syndicate tried buying all of the lotto combinations in Virginia (because the jackpot was more that the total cost)? If a +EV situation occurs, I'd drop a ton of entries under those circumstances.

My daily fantasy strategies are designed for small consistent profits over the long run. I've had near perfect days where I've profited as much as 1st place did on Monday. But my winnings were spread out over dozens of contests - to help hedge risk and provide a better chance of SOME return than an all or nothing scenario.

As for the upcoming FFFC on Fan Duel - I think this really is fool's gold. Winning one week gets you a trip to Las Vegas and $250 cash, plus a 3 out of 11 chance at a big prize. 2nd place in the weekly gets you $500 cash. I would much rather have the $500 in the hand.

My suggestion for large prizes would be a steps tournament system, just like the poker sites use. You can buy in at a higher step, or begin at the bottom step and work your way up. This will guarantee large prizes and a reasonable expectation of winning.


Blinders said...

The FFFC to me is a pretty big step backwards IMO for daily though the large prize amounts will generate some extra interest. One big problem is no guaranteed payout percentage like the season long lotteries, but thats just the start. First off, daily fantasy sports is not big enough yet to concentrate prizes like this. If all goes well and they break even, the three big prize winners will have all of the cash, and everyone else will have contributed the 50k+. 99% of your their user accounts will be drained, so that three people will have more cash than they could ever use in daily. Hope that works our for them. I would expect many of the people they attract will find us at where you have a great chance of winning cash each weekend vs. a massive crapshoot with nearly no shot at winning.

Next the multiple entry thing is not good if you want to profit. If you have a system for picking players that works, only one team will be the best, with your largest chance of winning. Each additional entry has a lower ROI than the one before it. The more times you enter, the lower your ROI goes. Unless there is a large overlay, you really should not be stuffing the ballot in these things, and unless you are watching closely you will have no idea if an overlay will happen or not.

Buffalo66 said...

"Each additional entry has a lower ROI than the one before it. The more times you enter, the lower your ROI goes."

While this is true, it takes a LOT of entries before the ROI falls to a unattractive level.

If there is a $600k carryover pick 6 at Santa Anita, you are saying I should only enter once? That is silly.

Sean David said...

I agree with your logic to an extent, Blinders, but not so sure that losing $10 a week will drain 99% of users. Ten dollars is a pretty cheap level. How much retention would a new user have if they have that much issue with losing $10 anyhow?

The great chance for a new player to win at FSL doesn't seem all that accurate when Kaiser, Prime, Buff, Kev and now Etoppsfan consistently snag a high % of contests and dominate week to week.

And it's not as if users that enter the fffc can't participate in HU contests to hedge their $10 fffc entry. But, it is hard to argue that this 'crapshoot' has potential to scare away new users.