Tips For Beginners in Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily fantasy sports, otherwise known as DFS, is an up and coming market in the world of online gambling. It's going to be incredibly popular, particularly in the United States. This is largely due to the simplicity of the games and the legality of the hobby. Displaced poker players and frustrated sports bettors are just two of the markets this niche caters to. Players of season long fantasy sports are also getting involved.
Smart players can find plenty of opportunities to profit from daily fantasy sports but there is a learning curve. No one becomes a professional sports bettor or poker player overnight and the same rules apply with daily fantasy sports too.
The purpose of this page is to provide some advice for beginners that will help them shorten the learning curve. Several aspects of daily fantasy sports can be a challenge when bettors aren't properly prepared for them, so that's why our advice will help make sure that everyone is properly prepared.
Just remember that no matter how many daily fantasy sports beginner tips you read, nothing is going to get you up to speed as fast as actually getting in the ring. Our best tip is therefore simply to get started as soon as possible. Sports fans will especially appreciate just how fun this hobby can be.
Choose the Right DFS Site
An important part of getting the most out of playing daily fantasy sports is using the best sites. Thankfully pretty much all the available options are good places to play but there are few that are especially high quality. Please take a look at our top ranked daily fantasy sites to find out where we recommend playing.
Please bear in mind that it's unnecessary to limit yourself to playing at just one site and there are actually some advantages to using multiple sites. We also suggest that bettors select which sites they're going to use, according to what's right for them. If you want to play fantasy golf as well as fantasy football, for example, there's no point in signing up somewhere that doesn't offer golf contests. In the same respects, if your goal is to win the biggest prizes, then it doesn't make much sense to sign up with a smaller site that only has small field contests.
Take Advantage of Bonuses
Most daily fantasy sports sites offer a 100% sign up bonus for new customers. That means you'll double the size of your bankroll just by signing up. In many ways, this can be too good to be true, so please make sure to pay attention to the fine print in order to benefit from this bonus.
Specifically, it's worth noting that the maximum deposit bonus amount varies from one site to another. Site A, for example, might offer a maximum of $200. When depositing more than $200, there's no additional bonus on the excess. Site B, however, might offer a maximum of $600. Here's why this matters.
With a little bit of planning, it's easy to get maximum value from the bonuses available at daily fantasy sites and it's definitely a goal to keep in mind. If you're serious about trying to win money, then always be on the lookout for opportunities to maximize your expected value.
There's another piece of fine print that bettors need to understand about these bonuses. They're not released into your account immediately, but rather in stages as you take part in real money contests. Read the terms and conditions for bonus offers carefully and then be sure to do what you need to do in order to get the maximum amount of money possible.
Remember the Salary Cap
Most season-long fantasy leagues don't use a salary cap. The draft is generally an almost all-day affair where participants take turns selecting players, as once a player is drafted he's no longer available to the rest of the participants. The differences in that set-up and the set-up that the daily fantasy systems use couldn't be more substantial.
One of the advantages to the daily fantasy sports hobby is speed, as it doesn't take long to set up a line-up. It's necessary to keep line-ups within a budget though, as they can't exceed the stipulated salary cap. Each player's "salary" is determined via algorithms that are unique to each site. These algorithms take into account the player's previous performance and his projected performance.
Winning at daily fantasy sports requires finding value that others miss. Bettors need to learn how to calculate how many points per dollar a player might earn. This is a skill most people don't develop when learning how to play season-long fantasy sports.
We've written a strategy article explaining how to find value when drafting fantasy sports teams. This contains a lot of useful advice for getting the most bang for your buck.
Experiment with Different Types of Contests
You might be getting involved in daily fantasy sports for nothing more than the entertainment value. If that's the case, please be sure to try the different types of contests available. Decide which ones you like based on how much fun you had, and then play more of those in the future.
On the other hand, you might be determined to make a profit from your new hobby. In that case, focusing more on the cash games might be the sensible route. You could focus mostly on head-to-head games, for example, which are played against a single opponent with the winner taking the prize pool. These are games with relatively low payouts and low variance. A skilled player can easily win more than half of these games consistently. Players who play a lot of these types of contests are called grinders.
Alternatively, you might be the type of person who's looking for a big score. If that's the case, you'll love the games with the tournament format. There's less chance of winning, but there are much bigger cash prizes to be won. For example, you might play in a contest with 1000 people, but only the players with the top 100 scores get paid out. On top of that, the prizes are staggered based on how high you scored. First place might pay twice as much as second place, for example.
It's almost impossible to know which contests suit your specific temperament and goals until you've tried them all. It's advisable to understand how each type works first, so we recommend reading our article on the different types of daily fantasy sports contests.
Manage Your Bankroll Effectively
One of the crucial components of any gambling strategy is effective bankroll management. The first step in this is deciding how much to invest into a bankroll for the hobby. This money needs to be earmarked for fantasy sports ONLY and should be money that you're happy to lose/spend. For obvious reasons, don't use rent or grocery money for this.
The main point of bankroll management, even for overall winning players, is essentially to avoid going broke. This means not putting your entire bankroll on the line on a single contest. There's always a chance of losing and with all your money on one contest it's very easy to go broke. Even with half of your bankroll on one contest and the other half on another contest, there's still too much risk involved.
The bankroll requirements for daily fantasy sports vary based on what kinds of contests you like to play. If you play mostly cash games, where 50% of the players get paid out, you should enter contests where you can afford at least ten entry fees. Twenty is even better. That means if you have $1,000 in your account, you might participate in 10 contests for $100 each but 20 contests for $50 each would be preferable.
When playing mostly tournaments, you need to account for the increased difficulty in walking away a winner. It would be ideal to have 40 to 80 times the entry fee in your bankroll. So with $1,000, you're looking at playing in the $25 and/or $10 entry fee tournaments instead.
Remember, the goal is to avoid going broke. But if you're a losing player, no amount of effective bankroll management will help. There are strategies available that will turn you into a long term winner.
Get Ready for the Commissions
If you're a sports bettor, you're probably familiar with the term vig or vigorish. Also known as juice, this is the commission that sportsbooks and bookmakers charge their customers. It's basically how they make money. Daily fantasy sports sites have to make money too, so they charge commissions.
If you're not much of a sports bettor, or just don't really understand what the vig is, there's an article in our sports betting guide that would be interesting to read. Inside we've written about all the different ways in which bookmakers make money.
The commissions in daily fantasy sports are a little higher than in traditional sports betting. Here's the difference.
What the above shows us is that the commissions are basically twice as high in daily fantasy sports, which causes some people to believe that their commission is too high. We don't think that's the case though, especially not for Americans. The pros of playing an entirely legal game and being able to use legitimate deposit and withdrawal methods far outweigh the cons of paying a slightly higher commission.
Here's another point in favor of daily fantasy sports. You're betting against other people in daily fantasy sports, many of whom might not be as good at picking a winning roster as you are. When betting against a bookmaker, the people on the other end of the bet are almost certainly more knowledgeable than you are. If they're not, then you're one of the exceptional sports bettors and this entire page is probably not applicable for your situation.
So, yeah, playing daily fantasy sports means paying extra fees in commissions but that's okay in our view.
Specialize and Focus
It's difficult to be an expert at a lot of different things. If you have dozens of goals and can't focus on them all, you'll likely fail at achieving them. If you specialize, though, you can focus on just one or two goals, and have every chance of achieving them.
To win at daily fantasy sports, you're going to have to be considerably more skilled than the competition. That requires developing a lot of knowledge and insight into the relevant sports. If you focus and specialize on just one sport to begin with, then you're much more likely to find some success. Two sports might be okay as well.
However, once you start trying to master fantasy sports for three or four different sports, you'll almost certainly start losing the ability to get an edge. It's unlikely that any beginner is going to be able to master the intricacies of that many sports at once. So our advice is to just focus on one at first.
The Vegas Lines Are Your Friends
No one in the world is better at calculating how the games are going to turn out each week than the sportsbooks in Las Vegas. This information can be used to your advantage when playing daily fantasy sports if you know what to look out for.
For example, one of the most common bets offered by a Vegas sportsbook is the over/under. It's a bet that a game will go over a certain number of points or under that number of points. Theoretically, there's approximately a 50% chance of winning such a bet.
Suppose a game has an over/under bet of 47. For a bet on the over to win, the teams would have to have a combined score of 46 or less. For a bet on the under to win, there would have to be a combined score of at least 48 or better.
The games with the high over/under bets are the teams which are expected to score the most points. Stacking players from both sides of those games is one way to use the Vegas line to make a decision about your line-up.
Combining that information with the point spread to determine if that's worthwhile or not is certainly a smart approach. If, for example, the spread is only 3 points, then it's clear that Vegas expects that game to have almost the same number of points on each side and still have a high scoring game. It would, therefore, make sense to pick players from both teams. On the other hand, if one team is favored by 14 points in that situation, it might not want be such a good idea to stack players from both sides of that game.
Make friends with the Vegas lines. There are all kinds of ways to use that information to help you get an edge at daily fantasy sports.
Don't Be Hard on Yourself
You're new to the hobby. So what? Everyone was new at one time. Everyone's had losing streaks. It's not the end of the world. By following our advice about not risking money you need for something else, like the rent for example, then losing at fantasy sports isn't something to be ashamed of. It's just part of the learning process.
Repeating the same mistakes is something else entirely but, even then, beating yourself up accomplishes nothing. Take the following attitude to heart: no shame, no blame. There's no need to be ashamed if you have some bad luck and there's no need to blame yourself. As long as you're learning and improving, then there's no reason not to be content.
In fact, maintaining this attitude will help you become a winner in the long run. Calm people make better decisions and learn faster.
Have Fun & Gamble Responsibly
Daily fantasy sports are a lot of fun and that's really all that matters for most people that play them. Unless you're determined to be a pro and make a living from them, you really should focus on just having fun. Winning money is enjoyable of course, but try not to let that become the main priority. Even if you do go down the route of playing professionally, it's still important to enjoy playing. No-one should have a career that they hate.
It should also be noted that one of the tell-tale signs of gambling addiction is continuing to wager even when you're not enjoying yourself any more. That's compulsion in action and it's ugly. So here's a simple but vital piece of advice.
You can always pick the hobby up again later, after taking a break, to see if it was just a mood swing on your part. Everyone needs a break from something once in a while, even when it's something that they love. However, please get help if you believe an addiction to gambling is a possibility. Don't ruin your life and the lives of your family members.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: September 2015
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