We’ve all heard the Benjamin Franklin quote. Bankroll management is as much about saving money as it is earning it. Money is simply a tool to leverage your profitability when it comes to DFS sports, particularly NFL. If you are new to the game, or struggle with money management in the game, do read on. Let’s fix perhaps the largest leak in your game.
Bankroll Management as a DFS Fundamental
Bankroll management is really just discipline. It’s a system you put in place to keep yourself from going busto. Perhaps the most important element is knowing how much money to risk in a given contest, slate, or day. Once you have that system figured out, the rest is just discipline. Much like getting out of bed when the alarm clock goes off, or putting down that 3rd beer because said alarm clock will be going off in the morning. Some people struggle with discipline more than others. Some simply don’t know how to implement the system. Neither matters; we can fix both.
Like many in the DFS industry these days, my background comes from poker. Poker is really just mathematics and discipline. Sure, you can calculate the odds of catching that card you need or make a shrewd bluff, but poker has the same pitfalls as DFS in that managing your bankroll is a skill we all know we need, but few of us practice religiously. It’s this proper management of your money that will potentially keep you around long enough to catch your big score.
Calculating Your True Bankroll
True bankroll, or total bankroll, is a number most players miscalculate. It’s not the total money on a particular fantasy site. It’s not even the total you may have on all the sites from which you play. Your true bankroll is the total amount of money you will give to daily fantasy sports this particular season. And, that number might be the number in your online accounts, but it may also be more if you are ok with redepositing. For simplicity, we will pretend we have $200 on 2 different sites, but if that disappears, we are willing to deposit up to another $100 or so per month. We will pretend this brings our true bankroll up to about $1000 for a nice, round number.
Formulating Your System
Now that we have a number, we need to asses the kind of player we are. This requires a bit of introspection. Do you enjoy the grind of cash games and the safety of a large percentage of the field being paid out? Do you hate grinding and feel it’s more fun to chase the million dollar winning prize in tournaments? Honestly, most of us practice bankroll management somewhere in the middle and mix in a little of both.
In our community, the DFS Army, we preach an 80/20/10 mix as a default. You will hear us refer to these numbers a lot. The 80 stands for 80% of your allocation to cash games (we’ll define these in a bit). The 20 is for 20% of your bankroll allocated towards tournaments (or GPPs if you’re a lingo guy). Finally, the 10 is 10% of your true bankroll in play on any given slate. A slate is usually a day’s worth of games. Instead of going into boring detail of how some slates are subdivided (Early, Main, Express, Thur-Sun, Weekend Only, etc), let’s just stick with the day’s worth of games. In NFL, it will obviously be a week since you can’t typically play again until next Thursday night rolls around. Before we move on, take a look at what we have put together as a content website below.
Here’s what we have going for the 2016 NFL Season. DFS Army VIP members will get the following:
- My complete weekly player picks for both Fanduel and Draftkings broken down by Cash, GPP or Both contest types.
- Access to our PREMIUM slack chat forums where you can ask me questions and get access to my last minute player picks and ALL IN plays. Most of our members consider our Slack Chat forums to be the best part of our membership program. Aside from myself, we have full time DFS Pros there sharing their strategies and plays for the weeks slate of games.
- NEW FOR 2016 – Access to a members only podcast where I will go in depth in to each weeks slate of games and players. Writing a column has limits as far as how in depth I can go on each individual game. In my DFS Army VIP podcast we will dive deeper in to each slate looking at potential GPP strategies and contrasting those with chalk or cash plays for each slate of games.
- Links to download two Daily Fantasy Football strategy eBooks that cover bankroll management and in depth lineup construction methodology
- NEW FOR 2016 – The Geek’s DFS Army – DFS Domination Station – A custom designed optimization tool which will generate anything from a single optimized lineup for cash games to hundreds of lineups for mass GPP entry. The tool will be loaded with my own DFS Army projections which users will be able to customize. This tool is currently in production and I will update things as they progress.
- Every sport under one plan. I’ve elliminated the concept of seperate memberships for every sport. This season and going forward our one VIP Membership plan provides access to all of the sports we cover, and we pretty much cover them all.
- Contests and prizes. We run contests to win DFS Army swag all throughout the season. Those come together in our slack forums as well
- Access to the latest player updates. We have an army of members posting player status updates all the way up to gametime, with quick access to pivot plays when a player you were using suddenly goes inactive.
Get a free month of DFS Army VIP Membership when you register for Fanduel or Draftkings via the following links:
Fantasy Draft – Register for a new Fantasy Draft Account via This Link – Make sure to put CHIEFST in the Refferer Code
Fanduel – Register For Fanduel Via This Link – YOU MUST USE PROMO CODE: CHIEFST
I’ve registered a new account with an initial deposit VIA THE ABOVE LINKS – now what?
Once you’ve registered a new account for one of the three DFS sites above and made your initial deposit you muse email us at [email protected] and let me know the following:
- The site you registered for and your screen name for that site
** Bonus Offer** We are currently running a 10% off promotion for our monthly VIP Membership package! Now is the chance to lock in at 10% off the normal monthly rate.
Winning Bankroll Management Allocation Strategy
Remember, we started with $1000. We said we would break that up per day (per week for NFL) and not use more than 10% of the total. In this case, $100. We also said we would use 80% (or $80) and apply it towards cash games. We would take the other 20% ($20) and take our shots at some bigger prizes in tournaments.
Defining Cash Games
Let’s take a moment and define cash games and GPPs. Google the terms with the keywords DFS, Daily Fantasy, Cash Game or various combinations and you can read until you go blind until all the information starts to repeat itself. My definition is a touch different, so let me explain….
A cash game is any contest which pays out more than 25% of it’s players. These contests are your head-to-head matchups, your 50/50s, your Double Ups, Triple Ups, small leagues that perhaps pay 6 of 20 players, 5 of 15 players, or even 3 of 4 players. (Yes, you can find contests that pay 3 of 4 players if you look.) These contests, as you will read, don’t require you to beat a lot of players to win some money. Because of only needing to beat half the field, or two thirds the field, you don’t need to take a lot of risk in the players you pick. Let the other guy assume the risk for you and profit when he fails.
Simply put, you are looking for the guys you know are likely to perform. You are looking for consistent producers. This lower risk approach provides a baseline, or floor, of production that will likely get you over the 50% mark most times all by itself. The cash game, no risk strategy is perhaps the biggest key to your bankroll management strategy when considering you are putting 80% of your daily budget towards these contests.
Defining Tournaments or GPPs
A tournament, or GPP, is any contest paying less than 25% of the field. Some pay 15%. Some pay 18%. Did you know some are Winner Take All (WTA)? Most of these contests are very top-heavy in their payouts, and they require you to really produce a stellar lineup to get paid much more than double or triple your entry fee. A few of these contests are also satellite contests in which only 2 or 3 tickets to bigger contests are awarded. If only 2 tickets are awarded among 20 players, you have a tournament type of contest because fewer than 25% of the players were winners.
GPPs definitely require more bankroll strategy and more “outside the box” thinking to win. Because fewer players win money, and even fewer win significant money, the object is crystal clear. You need to beat everybody and take down the top prize! But, because so many players are typically playing these contests, you need to find a way up that leaderboard. You need to separate yourself from the herd of players doing the same thing. In order to do so, you need to take some risks. After all, the top prize is significant….it’s worth going for.
A GPP player no longer cares about consistent players. He wants the home run. She wants the 80 yard touchdown. And, he or she wants it to come from the player nobody else saw coming.
Constructing Lineups within a Budget
When it comes to bankroll management, there is a set daily budget from which we draw. However, how do we build the appropriate lineup and still adhere to the 80/20/10 Rule? The answer is that it doesn’t really matter. It depends on what you want to accomplish.
I am more of a cash game player. I like to build a single lineup and run it through my selection of contests. My contests are going to be 80% cash and 20% GPPs with the same lineup. I build lineups in such a way I never know which lineup is going to go crazy and have the right stuff to win a tournament. If I want to use different players, I will simply build another lineup and enter it in the same contests again with the same 80/20 spread. For me, blending these contests with one lineup has become it’s own betting strategy I call The Ladder System.
This system ensures you only need to win your 50/50s or Double Ups to guarantee a break even lineup. The rest of the contests are pure profit if your lineup does better than beating half the field. I will write an article explaining the details of what many of our members inside the DFS Army call the best contest allocation structure they have ever seen.
Some players will build a lower risk lineup for the cash portion and a higher risk lineup for their tournament portion of their bankroll management system. These players love taking chances, but they also understand there is little need to take these chances in their cash games.
Others will build one lineup specifically for cash games and split the 20% portion for tournaments into a few lineups. These players love to build lineups and know the more they build, the more they have a chance to hit the right mixture of players. All of these ideas, however, should hold true to the 80/20/10 Rule. You can see the options are endless, but the bankroll management portion is very rigid.
Risk of Ruin in Daily Fantasy Sports
Risk of ruin comes by another name. In my poker days, we called it “going busto.” Going busto is a very real issue with many players. It’s what has prompted me to write this piece and hope you adhere to this rigid system to keep you in the game. I have witnessed player after player chase losses or ruin a winning streak with a complete lack of discipline. This lack of discipline is what had them reaching into their wallets for their debit card more than any other fundamental weakness in their game.
DFS is gambling in the sense that we don’t know the exact outcomes of the games we are playing. DFS is absolute, undeniable skill in that if we make better decisions with the information presented we will win more times than the next guy making poorer decisions. Part of these decisions are when and how much money to place on the line. By being disciplined with the bankroll management portion of your game, you can gain a huge edge on your competition simply by staying in the game longer.
Examples of Bankroll Management
Do you remember our true bankroll of $1000? Let’s run through some examples and put it into action. Hopefully, by watching a couple of examples you will see where all this ties together. Hopefully, you will put some form of system in place for yourself and plug any potential leak in your bankroll management boat.
Example 1 – Single Lineup Throughout
$1000 true bankroll: $100 per slate (10%) – $80 to cash games – $20 to GPPs
- 10 – $2 Head-to-Heads ($20)
- 30 – $1 Head-to-Heads ($30)
- 5 – $2 Leagues (focusing on those paying more than 25% of the field) ($10)
- 1 – $10 Double Up ($10)
- 1 – $5 Triple Up ($5)
- 1 – $5 Quintuple Up ($5)
- If you wanted to run a different lineup for tournament play, you would start the new lineup here….
- 1 – $10 Single-Entry GPP ($10 NFL Scramble pays $7500 to winner and 19.8% of all entries cash) ($10)
- 1 – $5 Single-Entry GPP (NFL Spike is $7000 to winner and 25% cash) ($5)
- 1 – $2 Mini Snap ($500 to 1st and 20% cash) ($2)
- 2 – $1 Mini Squib (pick 2 different ones for greater player mix) ($100 to winner 17.6% cash) ($2)
- 1 – $1 Single-Entry Squib ($8000 to first and 24.1% cash) ($1)
- $100 total invested
Example 2 – Several Lineups
Same true bankroll, same allocation as above through cash game portion. We vary once we get down to the tournament section.
- 1 – $5 NFL Rush ($100,000 to winner, 19.9% cash) ($5)
- 1 – $5 Satellite to following week’s NFL Sunday Million (1st – 5th out of 28 players earn tickets) ($5)
- 1 – $2 Single-Entry Safety ($5000 to winner, 20.8% cash) ($2)
- 8 – unique entries to $1 NFL Dive ($5000 to winner, 30.1% cash) ($8)
Hopefully, you can see the options are limitless. The only constant here is our budget doesn’t change. We strictly adhere to the $100 per slate and the 80% going towards cash formats and 20% going towards tournament formats. Mix and match as you please.
Winning and Losing Streaks and How to Handle Them
You will inevitably learn a term called “variance.” In our DFS world, variance is the natural ups and downs. I will not bore you with technical definitions, as I’m sure by now you have toothpicks propping up your eyelids. However, you will go on winning streaks, and you will go on losing streaks. It’s important to explain how we handle those within a bankroll management system.
That 10% of our daily allocation is the linchpin to everything here. As your account balance rises, you play more. As it falls, you play less. Remember, we are going off our true bankroll, not just what we have on a particular DFS site. You may need to shuffle money around to maintain your playability.
If you go on a massive heater and rocket your bankroll up to $4000, you can play up to $400 per slate. Hopefully, you keep riding that streak and capitalize on your hotness as you roll down the tracks. You are still well within your parameters of safe, smart play. However, we are accomplishing a couple of things. We are putting more money into play while playing well, and we are still reserving a lot of money for the inevitable fall from grace.
Keeping money in reserve is the part people miss. We are going to fall from grace at some point. And, when we do, we need to maintain the higher levels of competition we’ve earned. As our hot streak comes back around, we might be playing $10 contests like we were playing $2 contests. Staying at higher levels allows that hot streak to push us beyond where we were, and it keeps us from constantly starting over at the bottom again and again.
If we go on a losing streak immediately after implementing this new bankroll management system, we simply step down our play. For example, the first week, we lose $75 of our $100. Our bankroll is now $925. We play $92 next week. If we lose another $50, and drop to $875, we play $87 in week 3. This preserves our bankroll long enough to position ourselves for a great week when it happens.
Avoiding Disaster Positions You for Success
Perhaps the biggest flaw I see is people chasing those losses. They think they should keep playing $100 per week, and wonder why after 5 weeks they are down to just half their money. The undisciplined then throws gasoline on that fire by tilting off the rest in one big week to “get it all back.” In week 6 of a 17 week NFL season, they are busto…..gone……begging for beer money off their buddies. This scenario could have been prevented by stepping down gradually instead of just lighting all that money on fire.
Realize this, if you step down gradually, you are still playing $60 in a week after suffering a few terrible weeks. That $60, if properly allocated can turn into $2000 very quickly. But, you need to keep as much of it exposed as possible. Also, keeping $45 of that $60 in cash formats both positions you to grind the $60 back up to $80 for next week even if your tournaments bomb. And, it serves to protect you from losing everything if your losing streak continues……allowing you to take a nice shot again next week instead of only having $5 for tournament allocation. I think we all agree we have a better shot at winning $2000 with $15 allocated to tournaments instead of a measly $5.
Where to Find More Advice
I hope you have learned something from our bankroll management advice. If this kind of in-depth analysis and conceptual advice hits home, consider joining us using the above links into the DFS Army. We are always looking to add more and more great soldiers to help us spread the word intelligently. We love playing the game that is daily fantasy sports. More importantly, we love helping others play a fundamentally sound game. If you are also this type of person, we would love to have you get involved in our community! In case you missed it, visit DFS Army to enlist. HOOAH!