FanDuel is a New York based corporation offering daily and
weekly fantasy sports contests with cash prizes. The popular
technology blog TechCrunch suggests thinking of a FanDuel
contest as a “‘one-night stand’ of fantasy sports”, and that’s
as good a description for the kind of action you’ll get here as
any. FanDuel (along with DraftKings) is one of the two 800-pound
gorillas in this niche.
One of the major differences between FanDuel and their most
aggressive competitor (DraftKings) is the variety of contests
available. FanDuel has a more focused menu of sports to choose
from, offering only football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.
Some might consider this a drawback, but I see this as one of
the pros of using their service. Why deal with a cluttered menu
of contests for sports I have no interest in? I’d rather look at
a simple list of four sports that I’m interested in instead.
This is better even for those players who are only interested
in football, for example, because you have fewer choices to wade
Should you play at FanDuel?
I see no drawbacks to playing at FanDuel in general. The
interface works great, the site is user-friendly and
trustworthy, and the contests are varied enough to keep anyone
interested. Since sports betting is illegal in most United
States jurisdictions, and since Internet poker is dying a slow
death (at least for U.S. players), FanDuel’s service is the next
The law that gutted online poker, UIGEA, includes a specific
exception for games of skill like fantasy sports. You don’t have
to worry about something like poker’s Black Friday coming down
on you like a surprise stack of bricks one day.
The only real drawbacks FanDuel has are related to how they
fare against the competition. Their signup bonus is lower than
DraftKings. And if you’re interested in having more of a variety
of contests in which to play, DraftKings has FanDuel beat.
The two sites have minor rules differences, too, and some
small differences in scoring, but nothing that would necessarily
encourage a player to choose one over the other.
The rest of this review will tell you everything you need to
know about FanDuel. If you’d like to find out more about
DraftKings, please take a look at our review of that site.
Here are some additional details about the three main bonuses
and promotions available to FanDuel customers.
WELCOME BONUS – New players get a 100% up to $200 on your first deposit.
This bonus amount is released at a rate of 4% of your entry fees
as you play games.
REFER-A-FRIEND BONUS – When you refer a friend to play at the
site, you’re eligible to receive a percentage of his or her
entry fees. This can add up to quite substantial amounts if you
refer a few friends and they all play regularly.
MONEY BACK GUARANTEE – This isn’t exactly a bonus, but it is a significant
perk. If you don’t like the site after playing in your first
contest, FanDuel will refund your money.
One of the few complaints I have about FanDuel is to do with
the signup bonus. Specifically, I am disappointed that it isn’t
easier to find information about it on their website. I have the
same complaint with DraftKings. This might be an industry norm,
but I don’t like it. I never played at an online poker site,
casino site, or sportsbook which didn’t make the amount of their
signup bonus clear, front and center.
FanDuel, being a United States company, conducts business in
United States Dollars. The site accepts all of the following for
FanDuel processes refunds via your deposit method. This is a
fraud prevention tactic. If this safeguard weren’t in place,
someone could steal your credit card, make a deposit, and
withdraw that money into their PayPal account.
FanDuel makes a distinction between refunds and withdrawals.
Refunds are withdrawals that come from your initial deposit.
Withdrawals can only be made on money you’ve won beyond your
You can withdraw winnings via PayPal or via check. The
turnaround time for a PayPal withdrawal is 48 hours, but a check
takes 7 to 10 business days to receive.
Sports Available at Fanduel
I’ll explain more about the contests for each of these sports
shortly, but first I’m going to cover a few general points. Most
of the readers of this review already have some familiarity with
fantasy sports, but for those of you that don’t, this brief
introduction ought to get you enough up to speed to at least
understand this review.
Traditional fantasy sports leagues usually consist of a dozen
or so sports fans. They hold an annual draft and choose players
for their fantasy teams. Then they manage that team throughout
the season choosing which players to play and which ones to
bench every day or each week.
The players agree to a scoring rubric at the beginning of the
season, and the commissioner of the league sets up a schedule
for when each team plays each other team. Based on their
individual players’ performances, the teams get a score, and a
winner is determined every day or each week. At the end of the
season, the players with the best records compete in a play-off
for the championship of that league.
If that sounds like a big commitment and a lot of work well,
Daily and weekly fantasy sports contests, on the other hand,
eliminate the season-long commitment. You draft a team just for
that day’s or that week’s games. Your opponent(s) do the same.
When that day’s or week’s games are over, winners are
determined, and everyone gets on with their lives.
Season-long fantasy sports contests often involve an entry
fee and a cash prize, but you have to wait until the end of the
season to collect your winnings (if any). One of the perks to
the daily and weekly contests available via FanDuel and their
competitors is the immediate return on your investment.
Comparing DFS to Poker
These kinds of contest have almost as much in common with
poker tournaments as they do with traditional fantasy sports. If
you’ve ever played in a sit-n-go poker tournament at an Internet
cardroom, then the prize structures, buy-ins, and payouts of a
daily fantasy sports contest probably trigger an immediate sense
of deja vu.
For example, if you enter a 2-person (head-to-head) contest
at FanDuel, you’ll pay an entry fee ($1, $10, or more). The
prize money for the contest is made up of both players’ entry
fees less a commission. For example, the prize for a typical
head-to-head match with a $1 buy-in is $1.80 the $2 in entry
fees less a 10% commission.
FanDuel structures this buy-in slightly differently than a
poker site would. On a poker site, you’d pay a $1.10 entry fee,
and so would your opponent, and the prize for winning would be
$2. But 10% commission is still a 10% commission, though. You
should be aware of the commission before signing up for any
contests. It’s not a big deal; all companies involved in the
daily fantasy sports niche operate this way. They are
businesses, and they do have to make a profit.
Fantasy Sports at Fanduel
Another perk of daily and weekly fantasy sports is its
legality. When Congress passed the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet
Gambling Enforcement Act) in 2006, Internet poker began to dry
up at least for players in the United States. But the law
specifically exempted fantasy sports sites from its provisions.
Fantasy sports aren’t legal in every state, but in most
states, it’s considered a game of skill. Most U.S. jurisdictions
distinguish between games of skill and games of chance. Since
fantasy sports are clearly skill-based, they’re legal in most
Fantasy Football at FanDuel
FanDuel offers both NFL and college based fantasy football
contests. NFL contests take place over two or three days, in
order to get in all the games for Thursday, Sunday, and Monday
You get a salary cap of $60,000, and you use these funds to
draft a 9-player team. Your player pool consists of all the NFL
or college football players expected to see action that week.
You’re required to choose players from multiple teams who are
participating in multiple games if you just chose all of the
Washington Redskins, you might just as well be placing a bet on
the outcome of the game, which would be illegal.
A FanDuel fantasy football team is made up of the following
Running backs (2)
Wide receivers (3)
Tight ends (1)
You score points based on how your players perform that week.
The site has an elaborate scoring system, but here are some
examples of how your team members can earn points.
A rushing or receiving touchdown scores 6 points.
A passing touchdown scores 4 points.
Rushing yards and receiving yards score 1 point for every 10 yards.
Passing yards score 1 point for every 40 yards.
Each reception scores half a point.
A kickoff return or punt return touchdown scores 6 points.
Field goals score 3 points unless they’re over 40 or 50 yards.
Over 40 yards = 4 points.
Over 50 yards = 5 points.
Throwing an interception is -1 point.
A fumble is -2 points.
A sack scores 1 point.
Recovering an opponent fumble scores 2 points.
Returning an interception or a fumble for a touchdown scores 6 points.
Defenses also score based on how many points they allow.
0 points allowed is the best, and that’s 10 points.
1-6 points allowed is 7 points.
7-13 points allowed is 4 points.
14-20 points allowed is 1 point.
If they allow too many points, defenses can also lose points.
Allowing 28-34 points results in -1 point.
Allowing 35 points or more results in -4 points.
You can track live scoring as it happens via the site, and
your winnings or losses are recorded as soon as the scores
Fantasy Baseball at Fanduel
I’ve played plenty of season-long fantasy football seasons,
but I’ve never had the courage to try fantasy baseball. Since
there’s something going on every day during a baseball season,
the amount of time required to participate is too daunting.
But I am willing to play the daily contests at FanDuel,
because let’s face it-they’re one and done.
FanDuel only offers contests for professional baseball (MLB).
You start with a $35,000 salary cap and 9 roster spots, as
Fantasy baseball scoring is relatively simple.
Getting to first base is 1 point.
Getting to second base is 2 points.
Getting to third base is 3 points.
A home run is 4 points.
RBIs are worth 1 point each.
A base on balls (BB) or a hit by pitch (HBP) is worth 1 point.
A stolen base is worth 2 points.
Hitters can also score negative points.
Each out, calculated as bats – hits, is -0.25 points.
A win is worth 4 points.
A strikeout is worth 1 point.
Each inning pitched is worth 1 point.
Pitchers can also lose points too.
An earned run is worth -1 points.
Fantasy baseball points are tallied on the site in a real
time basis, and you get your winnings (if any) credited to your
account as soon as the official scores are all in.
Fantasy Basketball at FanDuel
FanDuel offers both college and professional fantasy
basketball contests. NBA contests seem to be the more popular of
the two options. Savvy bettors know that there’s probably more
opportunity to put their skills at handicapping to work in the
less popular of these contests, but there’s also correspondingly
less action on those games.
Like the other fantasy sports contests at FanDuel, your
fantasy basketball team roster has a salary cap-in this case,
$60,000. Your roster consists of 9 players.
Point guards (2)
Shooting guards (2)
Small forwards (2)
Power forwards (2)
Fantasy basketball probably has the simplest scoring rubric
on the site, as follows.
A 3 point field goal is worth 3 points.
A 2 point field goal is worth 2 points.
A free throw is worth 1 point.
Rebounds are worth 1.2 points each.
Assists are worth 1.5 points each.
Blocks are worth 2 points each.
Steals are worth 2 points each.
Each turnover is -1 points.
Fantasy basketball contests have real-time scoring, and your
payouts are credited to your account as soon as the site
verifies the official statistics for each game.
Fantasy Hockey at Fanduel
Fantasy hockey at FanDuel.com is based on the players in the
National Hockey League (NHL). You get a $55,000 salary cap
and a 9 player roster, consisting of the following positions.
Left Wing (2)
Right Wing (2)
The scoring is different for outfield players and goalies.
Goals are worth 3 points.
Assists are worth 2 points.
Plus/Minus is worth 1 point.
Penalty minutes are worth 0.25 points.
Power play points are worth 0.5 points.
Each shot on goal is worth 0.4 points.
A win is worth 3 points.
Saves are worth 0.2 points.
A shutout is worth 2 points.
Every goal against is -1 point.
FanDuel posts live results on their site, so you can see how
you’re doing at any time during the games. When the official
totals are tallied, you’re awarded your winnings (if any).
Types of Contests
You can filter choices in the left sidebar of the site
according to sport and type of contest that you’re interested
in. You can sort those contests by buy-in amount, from largest
to smallest or vice-versa. You can create your contests or sign
up for the contests that other players have already created.
The prize structures for these contests are determined by the
number of entrants and the entry fee. The site also deducts a
commission for hosting the contest. For example, if you’re
playing in a two player contest with a $1 entry fee, the prize
pool is $1.80. That’s calculated by adding your $1 with your
opponent’s $1, and then the site deducts a 10% vig. “Vig” is
another word for “vigorish”– sports betting talk for
Head to Heads
Head to Head (H2H) contests are my favorites. You play
against a single opponent, and the winner gets the spoils. You
can find these available in buy-ins ranging from $1 to $10,600.
And no, that’s not a typo. You can play head to head with an
opponent for a $20,000 prize.
50/50s are contests with multiple other players. Half of the
field wins a flat prize if they’re in the top 50%; the other
half loses. This format has similarities to the head to head
contests, but you’re facing a larger field of players.
Leagues are contests with between 3 and 250 contestants. The
site usually has a minimum number of contestants; if enough
contestants don’t sign up, the contest is canceled and your
entry fee returned. The prize pool for a league is
staggered and based on the number of competitors. This contest
type is similar to a large multi-table tournament in poker.
Tournaments are leagues with a guaranteed prize pool. The
advantage of playing in a tournament with a guaranteed prize
pool is simple-you have the opportunity for an overlay
situation. An overlay is when the prize pool for a contest is
more than the entry fees for that contest.
Here’s a simple example. Suppose you’re playing in a
tournament with a $2000 guaranteed prize pool and a $20 entry
fee. If 100 players or more enter the contest, you have no
overlay, but if 99 or fewer players compete, there’s extra money
in the prize pool. Professional gamblers love situations like
Here’s why. Suppose you have a $100 guaranteed first prize
for a tournament. And you have to pay $10 to enter the
tournament. You only have four competitors. Assuming you and
your competitors all have an equal chance of winning, you have a
20% chance of winning $100, which makes your $10 entry fee worth
$20 in expectation.
Since FanDuel is one of the most popular daily fantasy sports
contest websites, you’ll find few overlay opportunities here.
When you do find one, take advantage of it.
Strategy for leagues and tournaments differ
wildly from strategy for head to head and 50/50s.
With a head to head or 50/50 contest, you want to reduce
variance as much as possible in order to maximize your chances
of placing in the money. In a league or tournament, you want to
embrace variance- the only way you can win in one of these
contests is by having one or more breakout performances from
your players each week.
That means a running back who’s extremely consistent is a
great value in a 50/50 or H2H contest, but you want someone
whose numbers indicate he might have a huge week in a league or
a tournament. The barrier to winning money in those types of
contest is just that much higher.
A big button labeled “Help” is available in the top menu, so
it’s not hard to find customer support on this site. Their
customer support page recommends reading their FAQ first before
You can contact support via the online ticket system on the
site, or you can send them an email. There’s a minor complaint
here, as I’m disappointed that they have no toll free customer
support number to call. I know that some of the younger readers
of this review will wonder why that’s a big deal. They’d
probably prefer not to talk to someone over the phone anyway.
But for older customers like me, it matters.
I’m also disappointed that the support page doesn’t list the
hours of operation for their customer service team. This seems
like an easy way to prevent customer disappointment. If I know
that customer support is closed on Saturday, I won’t be
disappointed when I wait until Monday for a response. On the
other hand, since no hours are listed, I have no expectation one
way or the other.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked
questions about FanDuel.com.
Is FanDuel legal?
In most jurisdictions, yes, fantasy sports contests are
considered a game of skill and are therefore legal. Some states
in the USA don’t make a distinction based on skill, and in those
states, FanDuel might not be able to operate legally. But
FanDuel is a safe and legal enterprise. In fact, even PayPal,
who is notoriously gun-shy about processing gambling-related
transactions, has no problem doing business with FanDuel.com and
In fact, FanDuel uses the same rules for their leagues as
traditional fantasy sports leagues-the only difference is the
time frame. Almost 30 million Americans play fantasy sports
every year, and over 22% of the population have tried it at
least once. Not only are fantasy sports contests for money
legal, they’re commonplace.
Can you make a living playing fantasy sports on FanDuel?
I’m not sure if you can or not. I know I can’t, because I’m
just not that good at it. The 10% commission means that you have
to win a considerable percentage over 50% of your contests in
order to profit enough to make a living. That’s hard to do.
If you’re better than most of the other players there, you
could generate significant profits from fantasy sports on
FanDuel. In terms of playing for a living, it’s probably hard
but achievable. I’ve seen reports of people earning their living
Which site is better, DraftKings or FanDuel?
I prefer FanDuel, but it’s more for aesthetic reasons than
anything concrete. In fact, DraftKings offers more sports and a
bigger signup bonus, so it’s probably the better of the two
sites-if you want to be even-handed about it.
But really, players should try both sites to see which one
has a more comfortable interface. Everyone has different tastes.
Of course, if you’re looking for fantasy golf, NASCAR, or MMA,
DraftKings is definitely better, because FanDuel doesn’t offer
any of those options.
Summary & Verdict
I love playing at FanDuel and recommend it to anyone who’s
interested in fantasy sports or who misses playing poker online.
One aspect of FanDuel that disappoints me is the difficulty I
had finding the exact rules for each contest. The scoring rules
were easy to find, but I had to use Google to find the
information about salary caps and roster sizes that I needed for
this review. That information should be more prominent on the
That said, I don’t think FanDuel has anything to hide. It’s
just a usability mistake on their part that can easily be fixed.
The same goes for the couple of other complaints I’ve mentioned.
They’re minor complaints, and not a big deal at all.
I have an account at FanDuel, and I’ve played there for a
couple of seasons now. Having entered a lot of contests, I can
say that I love the site and have plenty of fun there. I’ve
experienced nothing but top notch customer service, and their
user-interface is a breeze to use when drafting a team.
FanDuel is a fantastic option for fantasy sports fans who
want to try their hand at winning real cash in the short run on
their hobby. They offer the four most popular sports, baseball,
football, hockey, and basketball. If you’re looking for other
sports, like NASCAR or MMA, you’ll be better off with FanDuel’s
I like to think of the limited number of sports available at
FanDuel as an advantage, not a disadvantage. Specialization
tends to lead to excellence. I had a mentor once tell me that
the man who chases two rabbits catches neither. By focusing on
one rabbit (the four major fantasy sports that people most want
to play in the United States), FanDuel increases the likelihood
that they can offer a top notch user experience for their
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