Payout Analysis – Part 2: Comparing GPP pay structures on DK

This is part of a series of articles I will write on various payout structures of contests on Fanduel and Draftkings. While it is not the sexy topic that people love reading about, understanding Draftkings payout structures and being deliberate about your contest selection over the long run will help maximize your profitability in DFS.

You can find my first article about CASH game structures here:
(It’s from spring 2018 but the numbers still hold true for both sites right now)

In this second LONG overdue article, I’ll breakdown some of the MME (mass multi-entry), SE (single entry) and 3-entry max contests offered on Draftkings tonight (Saturday, Jan 19th).

I. Definitions

A. How much Draftkings keeps
Margin: also known as rake, a measure of what percentage of the prize pool is being paid out to Draftkings instead of to its DFS players.
Expected Return: a restatement of margin but in terms of $. If DFS were a blind lottery draw, expected return shows how much money would you are expected to get back for each entry in this contest.

In general, we like lower margins in a contest since it means more of the entry fees go into the prize pool.  Most GPPs are at a -15.9% margin on both Draftkings and Fanduel. The exception to this occurs in the higher entry contests ($20+) where margin drops a little.

B. Top heaviness
% Min Cash: the percent your entry must finish in order to cash. Paying attention to whether a contest provides 1.5x vs 2x min cash!
First prize: what percentage of prize pool goes to first place alone.
Top 1% prizes: the total allocation of prizes that are reserved for the top 1% of finishes in this contest. This encompasses the “first prize” as well but is a little more comprehensive.

Most GPPs have about 25-40% of their total prize pool reserved for the top 1% prizes, with a top prize being about 10% or less of the total prize pool. The flashiest contests that DK pushes on their front page are the most top heavy (see $333K Big Jam contest info below).

C. Profit multiplier thresholds
2x%: cut off percentage for how you must finish in order to double your entry fee
3x%: cut off percentage for how you must finish in order to triple your entry fee
… and so forth for 5x, 10x, 25x thresholds.

I like to use 2x, 3x, 5x, 10x, and 25x percentages across all GPP contests whenever possible so that I have common benchmarks I can compare. These benchmarks are also the same multipliers of our cash game staples:   Double ups (2x% = 44%) /  Triple ups (3x% = 29%) / Quintuple ups (5x% = 17%).  This illustrates the fact that you are paying a premium for a chance at profit upside in GPPs since the flat pay out structure of cash games is much more lenient (but capped).


II. Contest specs for tonight

Note that not all contests have the standard 2x-3x-5x-10x-25x benchmarks – in these cases, I state the closest percentage.

A.  MME contests

B.  Single Entry and 3-entry max contests


III. Where I’m going tonight / advice for newbies

I’ve personally moved to an MME only approach this past season and have been having good success. I figured this would be a good day to write this article given how tilted FD players got last night over the DDR and Lou Williams late scratches (I had 60% and 40% myself).  I don’t have great takes on SE, 3-max, but hopefully the numbers above allow you to make some comparisons for yourself.

For tonight, I will be building 150 lineups for the mini-max ($75) in clusters of 20-30 lineups with a strong core to hopefully land a cluster in the top 10% finishes.

[note: thresholds in $0.50 DK mini-max are pretty similar to the $0.25 FD fadeaway, thus the two contests play pretty similarly]

Then out of those 150 LUs, I’ll probably pull every 7th or so until I get 20 LUs to max enter the $0.25 Quarter Juke and $1 And-One contests ($25 total).   I do this as part of my process to leave out the guess work of which lineups I think are my “best”, and instead, just trust my overall build and exposures to be well represented by pulling out every 7th lineup or so from my 150. I’m okay running the same 20 LU in the Quarter Juke and And-One since the two contests play similarly due to similar payout structures.

  • If you’re new to DK MME, then I would recommend starting with the $0.25 and $1 contests since their pay structure are very accommodating with 2x min cash and a lower threshold for 2x-3x-5x levels. The Mini-max is a bit top heavier, so unless you can afford to enter 150 LUs and be willing to be bit more contrarian to finish in the top 2%, then it’s not worth it.
  • Also, if you’ve never built 150 LUs on DK, make sure to leave more time than you would for FD.  Multi-positional eligibility + optimization almost always = lots of cheap value jammed into your lineups.  You have to be a bit more careful about thinking through whether you trust the value plays and limit exposures accordingly.  Also, DK optimization is a little slower since the multi-positional eligibility has so many more possible combinations for the algorithm to run through.
  • Lastly, if you’re switching over from FD to DK because you got burned by the late scratches, just be aware that the trade-off is that you will be at a disadvantage for MME on DK if you cannot afford to be by a computer when any post-lock news breaks… it’s not just about swapping out scratched players but about potentially capitalizing on value that opens up and allows you to fit better plays. This is actually why I don’t MME as frequently on DK since I normally don’t have that flexibility to monitor my builds throughout the night. Yeah, even though getting burned last night on FD sucked, I’m still in favor of non-late swap –but that’s just my two cents.

Good luck!