Fantasy Sports Bankroll Management is one of the most important skills to master as a daily fantasy sports player. Having been involved in this industry since 2014 I’ve seen so many players struggle with this concept. One of my friend’s coworkers was fortunate enough to win over $100,000 playing fantasy football. However, he didn’t have a bankroll management system for fantasy sports. Within a few weeks, he had lost all the money and he was down an additional $10,000 on top of that! Hopefully, you cannot relate to anything close to that, but maybe you can. If you can, this article is ESPECIALLY for you and you might want to call 1-800-GAMBLER too. Just saying!
For me, bankroll management was a concept that I HAD to master if I was going to be able to play fantasy sports for a long time. I first got started in daily fantasy sports in late 2014. At the time I was working for close to minimum wage at one of the largest office supply retailers in the United States doing wireless phone sales. I had hardly any disposable income at the time and I was really struggling financially. One of my biggest regrets from way back in my college years was not following my dream to become a sports writer and instead, going into the IT industry. Who knows? I could have been one of those talking heads on ESPN or Fox Sports. Instead, I’m “slinging tellies” in retail at the time.
I had seen ads online about these websites where you could win money playing these one day league fantasy sports contests. I’ve been playing fantasy sports since my college days but I always played season-long fantasy sports. The concept of a one-day fantasy sports league seemed strange to me at the time. However, after seeing the ads over and over again curiosity got the best of me and I decided to check it out.
When I first got started, I only had enough to make a $10 deposit. I played free contests at the beginning just to get the hang of it. Then I graduated to the 25 cents contests. I love those contests because it’s a great way for a newcomer to get started. In fact, I still pay the 25 cents contests to this day! I landed a much better job in early 2015 doing door to door sales and was able to make some more deposits. However, after four months I realized that wasn’t for me. I ended up back to close to minimum wage jobs, this time driving and chauffeuring, until the end of 2015 where I finally landed a really good customer service job. Up until that point, I really didn’t have a lot of disposable income so I needed a tight system for managing my bankroll. I read a few articles on the internet and eventually settled on my very first fantasy sports bankroll management system. That system has been revised over the years as I’ve learned more about the industry. This article is about my fantasy sports bankroll management system.
Step 1 – Identify Your Budget For Playing Fantasy Sports
The first step is to decide how much money you have available to play fantasy sports contests. Your budget isn’t necessarily what’s in your fantasy sports account. If you have a certain amount that you are willing to deposit above and beyond what’s in your account, include that as part of your budget. When I first got started, my budget was $20 a month. That’s all I could afford to deposit at the time and even that was a struggle. I would have to skip lunch a couple of days to make sure I had the money to deposit. So I can certainly appreciate your struggle if you’re just getting started and don’t have a lot of money because that was me! Your budget is what determines your available bankroll. So for instance, when I made my first deposit of $20, my bankroll was $20. If I played $2 worth of contest that night and lost all of them, my bankroll would now be $18. However, if I won and doubled my money that night, my bankroll would be $22. I would continue to work with whatever I had out of that $20 until I was able to make another deposit. Then that new deposit added to whatever I had in my account at the time became my new bankroll.
Step 2 – Only Play A Small Percentage Of Your Bankroll On Each Slate
The second step is to have the discipline to only play a small percentage of your bankroll on each slate. This is the biggest area where I see people mess up. They will have $100 set aside to play fantasy sports. Then they will play $50 that night. They lose that and then play another $50 the next night. They lose that and now they have to wait until they get paid to deposit again. I recommend sticking to a maximum of 10% of whatever your current bankroll is. This way, if you have a bad night or even several bad nights in a row, you still have money to play with.
So in December 2015, I had been playing daily fantasy sports for a year. I was down ROI lifetime but I had just landed a new customer service job with the federal government making 50% more than what I was making at the time. It was my first week on my new job and my total bankroll was up to about $100. I entered some NBA contests that night. When I got off from work, I took a look at my phone and saw that my teams were doing well. As the night went on, two particular lineups were going up, up and up. I got as high as 5th place in a large tournament with over 23,000 teams, First place was $1,500 and my entry fee was only $1. Then, one of the games went to overtime and I had 3 players from that game in my lineup. I rocketed past the rest of the teams to secure first place in that tournament and 3rd place in another tournament. My total winnings that night was over $1,700! I withdrew $1,000, left $800 in there and that became my new bankroll.
Which brings me to my second point on playing a small percentage. The higher your bankroll the lower you can make your percentage. When I only had $100 in my bankroll, I played 10% of my bankroll each night. Once I won that big tournament and had $800 to play with, I reduced my percentage to 3% of my bankroll. 3% was still double what I was playing before, yet it gave me a lot more room to work with should I go on a losing streak.
Today, my bankroll percentage varies based on the sport that I’m playing, how frequent that sport has contests and how good I am at that sport. My best sports right now are NBA basketball and MLB baseball, which are all daily sports. So for those sports, I play 5% of my bankroll. My two other best sports are PGA golf and NFL football, which are all weekly sports. So for those sports, I play 10% of my bankroll. Other sports that I play that I’m decent at, but not as good as the previous sports I named, I play a lower percentage. For instance, I play fantasy MMA, which is a weekly sport, but I only play 5% of my bankroll because I’m not as good at that as I am at golf and football. Same goes for Euroleague basketball. That’s twice a week so I play 5% of my bankroll and there are times where it’s 4 times a week. During those weeks I’ll only play 2.5% of my bankroll each slate.
Step 3 – Play The Right Combination of Contests Types
The final step to good fantasy sports bankroll management is playing the right combination of contest types. The right combination depends on what type of fantasy sports sites you are playing on. There are two primary types of sites. There are salary cap sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel. Then there are draft sites, such as Drafters and Draft. Each of these sites has different types of contests.
When I first got started, I played on DraftKings only. Now on DraftKings there are two primary types of contests. The first type are known as cash games. This is where you can win up to 100% of your entry fee. The most common type of cash games are head-to-heads and double ups. Head-to-heads are when you play one opponent one on one. Double ups are when you enter a contest with a number of other players and the top 40% or so double their money.
The second type of contest is called Guaranteed Prize Pools or GPPs for short. In these contests, a number of players enter and only the top percentage win. It can be anywhere from the top 26% all the way down to only one winner period. The higher you finish in these contests, the higher percentage of the prize pool you earn.
When I first got started, I highly recommended playing 80% of your contests in cash games and 20% of your contest in GPP contests. I think you should always have at least some percentage of your contest in GPPs because you never know when you are going to have a really good night. You don’t want to be that person who scores 400 points in NBA but you only played a head to head contest that night. So the reason why I use to recommend 80% of your contests in cash games is that it was easier to win a cash game than it was to win a GPP at the time. Let’s say you needed a score of 300 points to win money in a GPP. Back then, you might need only 250 points to win money in a cash game. So it made sense to have a higher percentage of your entries in cash games because those games you had a higher chance of winning.
However, the industry has changed. Players have gotten smarter and smarter. If you need 300 points to win money in a GPP you might need 290 points to win money in a cash game. Sometimes you actually need LESS points to win money in a GPP than you need to win money in a cash game. For this reason, I personally no longer recommend playing cash games on salary cap sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. It’s better to just play GPP because most nights you need close to the same score to win money no matter what contest you play. With GPP you have the same risk that you have with cash games but you have higher upside. Instead of playing cash games, I recommend that you diversify your games by playing on at least one salary cap site and one snake draft site. On the SNAKE DRAFT site is where you can play your cash games and just stick to GPPs on the salary cap site.
If you are unable or unwilling to play on multiple sites and you really feel the need to play cash games, I recommend playing head to head contests and 3 player contests. These two contest types typically have the lowest score needed to win because you’re playing against one or two other players. I also recommend that you manually select your competition. There are a lot of really good players who create contests on these sites. Avoid those players and stick to players who are at or below your skill level. If you’re just getting started, most sites offer a beginner and/or intermediate level contest where the experienced players are excluded from playing. Play those contests. However, once you get past that level, you will need to manually search for and avoid the more experienced players. What I use to do was have a Word document with the names of all of the experienced and successful players that I see in the contest lobbies each night. When I see a contest, I would check my document and if that screen name was in my document, I would avoid that contest. If there was a player who I won against, I would make sure I create a new contest the next day and challenge that same player. I would also join leagues that consisted of players around my skill level or below and just play them. There are plenty of ways to do it. The key point is you want to avoid the highly experienced players.
So this is my three step system for managing bankroll in fantasy sports. Obviously, you don’t have to do everything that I do. You can make your own bankroll management system based on what works for you. What’s important isn’t that you follow every single thing that I do to a tee. What’s important is that you have a system in place that helps you minimize your losses and maximize your gains. I hope you find this system to be helpful in maximizing your profits in daily fantasy sports!
Finally, if you’re looking to learn more about being successful playing fantasy sports I highly recommend you join my fantasy sports community The DFS Masters! We have over 8000 members and talk about all types of fantasy sports, from as popular as NFL football to as niched as Euroleague basketball or fantasy Esports!