In this article I’m going to talk about how you should be managing your money (also referred to as your bankroll) when you’re playing Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Our goal is to make money when playing DFS, and managing your bankroll is key to helping you succeed.
We will be taking a look at how to decide how much money to be putting in play each week, how much of your money should be going towards cash games and tournaments, when to increase or decrease the amount of money you’re playing, and more.
What is a Bankroll?
This term comes from poker player and sports bettors and refers to the amount of money you set aside to play with. This is money you can afford to lose in a worst case scenario. I also like to think of it as an entertainment expense. Unfortunately not everyone wins money when playing DFS, so you need to make sure the amount of money you set aside for your bankroll is money you can part ways with without any stress.
Of course our goal is to help you win money and increase that bankroll, but that’s the best way to look at it in case you do lose most or all of your bankroll.
How Should I Determine My Bankroll?
My favorite way to look at a DFS bankroll is a weekly bankroll. This makes the most sense during the NFL season because you know exactly how much you can spend on entries fees each week. If you want to you can have an overall NFL bankroll, and then each week set a weekly limit too.
So for this we would set aside an amount of money you can afford to lose each week. Think of it as an entertainment expense. So instead of eating out 4 or 5 times this week you may decide to set aside $50 to play DFS with.
The amount of money in your weekly bankroll will be different for each individual. For some it might be $5 and for others it might be $100. Don’t worry about the amount of money others are spending – you can win money at all different entry fees. So even if you have $10 to play with each week you can enter 10 different $1 contests and still have a shot at some good money.
Don’t be the guy that deposits $500 and spends it all in one week, loses it and then can’t play for a few weeks. Be smart and set aside a weekly limit for yourself.
Splitting Up Your Bankroll For Game Types
There are two main types of games at DFS sites like DraftKings: Guaranteed Prize Pool Tournaments (also referred to as GPPs) and Cash Games.
GPPs are the big tournaments with set guaranteed prize pools. The sizes range, but many of them have thousands of players and the money is paid our similar to a poker tournament – it is front loaded with about the top 20% being paid out.
For these tournaments the payouts are front loaded so if you finish in the 20th percentile you’re getting around double your entry fee back in winnings, but if you finish in first or near the top you are getting some very large payouts compared to the entry fee. For example, I placed 1st in a 16,000 person tournament back in Week 2 of the 2015 NFL season. The entry fee was $27 and I won $100,000.
The cash games are the 50/50s, double ups, head to head matches, etc where you need to finish roughly in the top 50% to win usually around double your money. I say “roughly” and “around” because the different game types have a bit different payout structures. For example in 50/50s you need to finish in the top 50% and you win slightly less than double your money as the DFS sites take their fees from the entry fees. While in double ups you win exactly double your entry fee, but you need to finish in about the top 45%.
These types of DFS contests aren’t offering the huge payouts like the GPP tournaments, but they are the best for building your bankroll. Instead of having to get really lucky and have an absolute elite lineup to win big like in the GPPs, you can consistently win money just beating about 55% of the field.
Because of this if you’re serious about making some money playing DFS you should be putting most of your money towards the cash games. There is a general rule floating around there that you should have about 80% of money in cash games and 20% in GPP tournaments weekly to be able to make a consistent profit (assuming you’re a good DFS player).
The 80/20 bankroll rule is definitely a good starting point that I agree with, but I think it should be tweaked for each individual depending on their goals.
Ask yourself why you’re playing DFS. Are you using it as entertainment similar to the lottery, where you’re hoping for that million dollar pay day? Or are you trying to make a consistent side income throughout the year? Or maybe somewhere in between?
Personally I use DFS looking for a big score. I’m willing to lose money over the course of the year in hopes for hitting a big winner. Because of that I play more than 20% of money bankroll in GPPs.
I have a friend who is more so hoping to make an extra $500 a month so he can do stuff like buy new things and go nice places with some extra spending money. Because of that he plays more than 90% of his weekly bankroll in cash games where he has a better chance at making a profit.
Decide what your goals are and split your bankroll between GPPs and Cash Games accordingly. I highly recommend the 80/20 rule (or more than 80% in cash games) if you’re looking to play DFS for a long time and enjoy it.
One way to increase profits is to have a “dynamic bankroll”. What I mean by a dynamic bankroll is a bankroll that increases and decreases with your wins and losses.
If you are playing with $20 per week but you end up hitting a big payday for $500 placing high in a contest you could then increase your weekly bankroll slightly (for this example maybe up to $40 per week).
When doing this you want to make sure that if you were to lose back that money won that you go back to your regular weekly bankroll that you were comfortable with. So for this example you doubled your weekly bankroll to $40 with your $500 in winnings, but if you lose that $500 back you would want to go back down to your original $20 weekly bankroll.
DFS Bankroll Recap
That’s pretty much it when it comes to bankroll management for Daily Fantasy Sports players. The key point is to only play with an amount of money you can afford to lose if things don’t go your way. For a lot of people things don’t go their way, so keep that in mind.
Write down and plan your bankroll and be strict with what you’ve decided on. Don’t be tempted to increase your bankroll at all unless you’ve won some big money that you’ve decided to put towards increasing your weekly bankroll (knowing full well that you could lose that money back).
Also, don’t be afraid to lower your bankroll for a week where you don’t feel comfortable with the games, pricing, players, etc (or even fully sit out a week). This can be smart for times when you’re busy and aren’t able to do full research. Why throw money down the drain because you’re unprepared when there’s always next week?
Good luck with your DFS contests. I hope you win big! If you’re looking to increase your chances of winning check out my DFS NFL Strategy article I wrote and published here at The Sports Geek.