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Picking the right DFS contests for MLB

By Matthew Kirkeby - 6 years ago in MLB News, MLB Winning Strategy

How to choose the right DFS contest for MLB


We are not trading securities on the Stock Exchange, but the principles of risk that apply to trading stocks also apply in choosing the right MLB DFS contest. Choosing a DFS contest is deciding what kind of risk you will take on. The roster you build should be dependent on the level of risk of the the contest you’re playing.

If you don’t enter a balanced portfolio of games, you leave yourself open to the risk of making very little money, or busting out quickly. The risk associated with each contest you enter should influence the personnel decisions you make with your roster. A balanced risk portfolio can let you steadily increase your bankroll, while still taking some shots at big money.

Cash Games


Let’s look at 50/50s and Head to Heads contests. In these contests the winners basically double their investment minus the 10% or so that the hosting sight keeps for administrative fees and profit. You will need to win 53% or better on all cash games to make a profit. If you’re playing cash games, you want to roster players that consistently produce and stay away from boom/bust players. You only need to finish in the top half so there is no need to take unnecessary risks.

Who should you roster in cash games?

Most of the time, you will want to pay up to get a good pitcher with a good matchup. Messing with rookies and bargain pitchers adds to your risk, which is the opposite of what we want to do when building a roster for a cash game.

As for hitters, look for value in the name brand guys. You may try staying in the $3,000 to $3,500 range on FanDuel with all your bats. Look for guys with high floors. You should use OBPs instead of averages when considering hitters because walks provide more stability to your lineup. This will improve your chances to at least get something out of every position.

Which cash games should I play?

A good way to enjoy Daily Fantasy without making an impact on your personal finances is to stick to low cost cash games. You can win $1 to $2 cash games regularly with minimal effort.  Competition gets more difficult in the $5 cash games up. If you’re not into capitalism, it may surprise you to know that people work harder when more money is on the line. That means you will need to work harder to find success if you’re entering contests with higher entry fees. Nevertheless, the bar for success is much lower in cash games than tournaments. Low cost cash games are good investments that will help you gradually build your bank roll. However, everyone wants a little upside…

Tournaments (and 3-100 Players)


Tournaments are high risk, but more risk means more reward. You must be mindful that very few people win on a nightly basis and that means each tournament entry is more likely to lose than win. You may have to lose quite a few before you win one. Even if you finish in the money, you will have to finish towards the very top to get in the big money. That said, when you win a tournament style game, you pay for a lot of losses.  You have to place high in a tournament if you want to win big, but you have to play smart if you want to keep from going broke.

Decision making with this kind of risk/reward structure calls for more extreme decisions. Paying for an elite pitcher means you need a LOT of production from all of your value bats: and even then, you may not win. You are much more likely to find success taking a cheap pitcher in a good situations and hoping for lightning in a bottle.

Value pitchers for tournaments

Picking value pitchers for tournaments is an article by itself, but you will need very good criteria for picking them in tournament entries. This is where it helps to know talent levels of obscure young pitchers. If you take an electric arm on the right day, the edge you get over your competition is massive. The extra funds you save this way let you dig deep at the positions where you’ve got an edge and buy the hot name brands where you don’t otherwise have an edge. If you need to know how to find guys that will give you an edge, check out this article.

Large tournaments offer the payouts most DFS players are looking for, so interest is never the selling point. Teaching yourself to exercise caution and manage risk intelligently are important to keep from going broke playing DFS. That’s why I make sure to make only about 10% to 20% of my investments in Tournaments and 3-100 Players games. You want to give yourself a shot at the big payouts tournaments offer, but you should still play more low-risk games to make sure you are steadily increasing your bankroll. This makes it much harder to go broke and helps you profit even when you don’t finish in the money in tournaments.



Multipliers are the in-between games. Double Ups are like 50/50s, with two minor but important tweaks: you make what you invest, but the cutoff for cashing out is the top 45% contestants instead of the top 50%, like it is in 50/50s. That little bit matters, but mathematically it means your risks are about the same as with 50/50s. Each of the other Multipliers provide higher payouts as their names suggest (Triple Up, Quadruple Up, Quintuple Up), but fewer people finish in the money as the payouts increase. The higher the payout, the more these games start to function like Tournaments.

Spread your exposure

You may want to play a couple Multipliers games in lieu of 50/50s. Your entries should still consist of at least half of your money entered in cash games or Double Ups.

For example, a well-structured investment on a $20 budget may consist of six $2 – 50/50s, a $2 Double Up, a $2 Quadruple Up, a $2 3-100 Players contest, and a $2 tournament. That gives you a good balance of low risk/low reward with high risk/high reward games. Just remember to develop at least two rosters: one for the safe games, and one for the higher risk/reward games. That will give you the ability to stick around for a while, profit as you learn, and strike gold when it all comes together for you.

Lastly, our MLB pros have pointed out that you should take less risk early in the season and play more cash games. As the season progresses we will have more relevant statistical data to help you make more informed roster decisions. It’s difficult to take good calculated risks with last year’s data.


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