When I was first introduced to DFS not too long ago my initial excitement was due to the fact that I saw DFS as one big math problem. Not only did I see it as a math problem, but one that was potentially “beatable.”
There are some “professional” DFS players who have an edge over all the rest of the players because of experience, commitment, and time spent preparing their lineups and doing research. This begs the question: should you play DFS casually?
I found myself asking that question this weekend.
As I said in a previous post, I work full-time in corporate finance and run a personal finance blog in my spare time. While I have been able to put some of my free time towards DFS research, I feel hypocritical by not digging into the numbers to a greater extent. I know I’d have an edge if I did more research and data analytics, but I’m still putting money on the line even when I don’t have sufficient time for research and analysis.
Professional players and those who at least think they have an edge over the field need casual players in DFS just like poker players need amateur players in their game. The reason is simple: they need losing players in the game.
There are many ways casual players lose in DFS, and I think it has much more to do with time than anything else. Here’s a few ways:
- Less time to research – The more time you have to dig into the wealth of data available on players, teams, etc., the better off you are as a DFS player. While there is something to be said about “experience” in DFS, I personally think it comes down to the numbers, especially if we are talking about having a long-term positive expected value.
- Less ability to handle variance – Casual players have far less tolerance of variance than non-casual players, because they have less of a handle on whether they are actually playing with a positive expected value. It’s easier to get frustrated after a few down weeks when you are uncertain of whether you are simply gambling or playing with an edge.
- Bankroll management becomes an issue – When you are a casual player you have less ability to utilize a bankroll. Even committing $1,000 to a DFS bankroll is a stretch for most casual players, so it’s harder to diversify risk through multiple lineups/player exposures, and in turn easier to go on tilt from losing a few weeks in a row (which is much more likely with a smaller bankroll).
To answer my question, no you shouldn’t play DFS casually, assuming your goal is to win money over time. If you are looking to gamble it’s a different story. I don’t personally know anyone whose goal is to gamble, though, so I think for a large majority of DFS players or potential players, it’s much better to be fully committed to DFS.
Being a fully committed players – as opposed to a casual player – means you are willing to put in significant time researching matchups, trying to find value players, and conducting retro (after-the-fact) analysis on whether your assumptions were correct.
On the bright side if you are committed to DFS there is huge potential for profits. This assumes you are willing to create data models, test assumptions, and commit enough money to your bankroll to weather the ups and downs of the crazy variance that is integral to DFS.
Photo by JA SC