In DFS there are two types of contests; “cash games” and guaranteed prize pools or “GPPs”. Cash games are contests where usually the top 30-50% win and everyone in the money wins the same amount. Common cash games are 50/50s, double-ups, and triple-ups. Guaranteed prize pools are the larger, multi-entry tournaments with large prizes for the top finishers and a much lower percentage of winners overall, usually around 23% or so. You should take a different approach to playing DFS depending on how much you want to bet on a day, what types of tournaments interest you, and what the day’s slate composition looks like. We’ll run through some tips and scenarios below to help you craft your strategy for each contest type.
Cash games are all about playing it safe, sticking to the chalk, and trying to avoid risk. There are certain sports and slates where it makes a lot of sense to enter these types of contests, and plenty of situations where they should be avoided. Cash games are generally better to enter on decently sized slates, with sports that are more consistent. Small slates have way too much volatility to make sense for cash, because one roster mistake can break a lineup. You have more leeway with larger slates in this regard.
Some sports are better suited for cash, like basketball, CS:GO, and golf. Each of these sports have more limited volatility than baseball or league of legends for example. The top players on NBA teams and CS:GO teams are going to be the best performers most of the time, and the chalky players each day are the superstars on the teams with good matchups. Golf is decently predictable in terms of players making the cut and doing enough to get you to cash, only for GPP construction do you get more crazy with roster construction. Remember, in cash games it doesn’t matter if you come in 1st or 1000th, if you’re in the money you win the same amount. You don’t need to get someone who will either score 50 or 20 when you can get a guy scoring an almost guaranteed 35, you only need enough to pass the cash line.
I’m sure most of us find cash games boring because there aren’t huge prizes, but they are necessary to keep your bankroll stable. Chasing GPP wins is the fastest way to re-depositing, so you need to play cash games to avoid that happening. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid GPPs however, you just need to balance your contest selection. If you are playing $50 in GPP lineups, enter $50 in double-ups that will cover all of your entry fees if you win. Just remember, always enter your cash game lineup in a GPP, as one day it will be amazing and you’ll be thinking that you would’ve won a GPP if you had entered it. Trust me, it happens.
Guaranteed Prize Pool contests are those wonderfully large tournaments that first brought you and I to these sites. They are lottery ticket type games with large prizes at the top and progressively smaller prizes down and a smaller fraction of total winners. GPPs require a lot of entries to consistently reap rewards and taking risks is the way to go in these tournaments. Professional DFS players max enter these contests with sometimes hundreds of lineups with many different combinations of the top players so they are very difficult to win if you just enter a lineup or 2. These contests should be approached with a strategic plan of forming your core players and then running out many combinations of them. If your core is great, you have a good night. If your core doesn’t do too well…then you tell your SO how relieved you are that you didn’t decide to play that night as you turn the TV off, punch a pillow, and stomp to bed.
Like cash games, there are times and places where GPPs make more sense to play, but they are always more fun if you just want to throw a few bucks into a tourney like you would approach buying a powerball ticket. Sports like hockey, soccer, baseball, football etc are all much better suited for these tournaments. For example, you wake up on a sunny June 6th, 2017 morning and decide you want to play some fantasy baseball. You fire up the DK app and build your roster. I was able to fit Mike Trout, Joey Votto, and the all time best right fielder Nick Markakis (not my opinion, fact) into the same lineup! You wildy exclaim this to your best bud as he rolls his eyes. You turn on the Reds game to watch Votto rake for you and take you down the yellow brick road and then Scooter freaking Gennet hits 4 home runs and outscores your entire lineup. That’s a sport for GPPs. Sports where the top players can do literally nothing while everyday scrubs tee off are better suited to risky tournaments anyways because chalky plays are much less likely to regularly work out the way we want them to.
So why should we play GPPS, Joel Embid?