Fantasy Rising – Prepare and Prosper

The growth in the popularity of daily fantasy sports shows no sign of relenting and there are a number of parallels that compare favourably with the poker boom that took place over a decade ago as well as a few subtle differences that can give a fantasy player a real edge when selecting a contest.

Something that is commonplace with poker ‘cash’ tables is hand ‘rake’. This won’t apply to daily fantasy sports but there are many other features seen in the competition lobby that will.  The buy-in and pay-out structures mirror well with what we have seen in traditional poker tournaments. The ‘house’ will tend to add around 10% juice on top of the buy-in fee to cover their expenses and profits. Available leagues can be compared to the variance seen with poker styles such as Omaha and Texas and the field-size also follows along the same path ranging from head to head contests to big-field tournaments. There is plenty of flexibility when it comes to commissioning tournaments as well and both games combine a degree of skill and luck but as always the better players will tend to prevail over time.

However, one of the fundamental differences between the two is preparation time. The poker experience only really gets going once the cards are dealt from which point your fate is in your own hands. Sure, there may be some prep involved – you can look at any notes you may have on potential adversaries if you know which players you might come up against or you can watch poker tutorials to fine-tune your strategy as well as preparing yourself mentally and physically for what could be an exhausting stint at the table whether playing online or in a bricks-and-mortar environment. Poker tournaments are an endurance test.

Poker Player

By comparison most of the work with daily fantasy sports will be done before the contest begins. This is a fundamental difference and allows players to carry out their preparations at their own leisure putting in as much as much effort as they deem necessary. There may be some instances where you can implement substitutions or execute late swaps due to last-minute team news depending on which operator you are playing with but the majority of the reconnaissance will be done beforehand.

This preparation time is a key attraction for fantasy sports players. Most of the game developers will provide detailed statistics on the full player list to help with this and contestants will use this info as well as researching likely team news and goal expectancies for both teams in each fixture within a contest. Fortunately, though, for fantasy players there are many invaluable resources available now that provide a combination of info-graphics, previews, team news, strategy articles and much more. One such resource is WhoScored, a website that needs no introduction and is a ‘must’ for everyone fantasy football player’s short-list. Not only do they rate players for all the skill-sets that are applicable to fantasy football scoring but they also provide team news, match previews and reviews as well as detailed articles highlighting in-form players with illustrations covering all the key areas.

When it comes to choosing a fantasy sports contest there is a small loophole that players can exploit.

The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was established in 2006 and although it effectively banned online poker and sports betting in the United States it gave birth to a fantasy sports market that is now flourishing. Three conditions were set:

(1) all prizes must be established prior to the contest and not determined by the number of participants; (2) the outcome of the contest must reflect “the relative knowledge and skill of the participants” and be determined by statistical results; and (3) the contest cannot be based on the score, point spread or any performance of a single real team or an individual athlete in a single real sporting event

The significance of Point (1) cannot be under-estimated. The game developers know that they need huge prizes with Guaranteed Prize Pools to attract new players to the industry. This will invariably create ‘overlay’ opportunities.

An overlay is a situation in which the amount of prize money at stake in a contest exceeds the total amount of entry fees generated by it.

This means players are getting great value for money.

For example, let’s assume an operator is hosting a GPP tournament for which the prize pool is set at $10,000. The entry fee is $10 and 1000 people are allowed to join. The contest is under-subscribed. Let’s say only 500 people enter the GPP. The cumulative entry fees will total only $5,000, well below the guaranteed pot meaning that the site will have to stump up the remaining balance. Effectively each entrant would have $20 in prize pool equity for their $10 entry fee.

We expect the number of overlays to increase dramatically as more operators enter the daily fantasy sports market and start to compete for customers so watch out for those occurrences when opportunity knocks!

The rise in the popularity of daily fantasy sports looks unstoppable!

The Ginger Prince