Part 2: Bankroll Management and Contest Selection

In this 5-part series, you'll learn everything you need to know to build a winning MLB DFS process.

In this lesson, you'll learn the exact contests to play to grow your bankroll as fast as possible.


The first thing we have to do is just decide how much are we willing and how much should we risk on any given day? And how do we decide where we want to invest that money? What contests do we want to play? And I wanted to start out by saying that the common advice on bankroll management is just really bad. And if you’re following it, it’s holding back your results. I don’t really think it even matters who you talk to on this, it just seems like nearly a decade ago, someone came up with this rule called the 80/20/1010 rule, which says 80% of your wagering should be done in cash games, which are 50/50’s, head-to-heads, and double ups, 20% should be in GPPs, which are those bigger contests, and then you should be wagering 10% of your bankroll on any given slate.

These articles have been out there forever, and the advice just hasn’t changed. It hasn’t evolved at all while the games have changed tremendously. And when this advice used to come out, the reason why you could say invest in cash games, cash games are the best way to build a bankroll is because if you had a decent projection system and an optimizer, you would also just be guaranteed money 60% of the time by going in there, hitting optimize and submitting that lineup. That was really all it took.

But as with anything, when there is a super easy way to just print money, people figure it out and more people talk about it and more people do it and then that edge disappears. So everyone learned that trick and now cash games, they still can be profitable, but they are incredibly difficult to beat. And it’s not something where you’re going to click a few buttons and print money. And it’s so much slower grind. So they really shouldn’t be part of your strategy until you already have a big bankroll and a ton of free time to focus on that.

If you want to win real money at DFS, then you have to play GPPs plain and simple. But this also means you’re going to have bigger swings than you would if you’re following that old school cash game advice. So you have to be smart about managing your bankroll. You could enter, as well, like these cash style lineups, these ones that aren’t trying to get a massive score, but are trying to just do pretty well on any given night. You could put those lineups into the GPPs and try to squeak into the money regularly, but that’s not really how you win the real money at GPPs. You make your money by winning these contests, not by just min caching and squeaking your way across the cash side.

I really want to make this video as actionable and practical as possible. So let’s just get into some practical rules. How do you take everything that I just talked about and actually apply that? What do I do with this?

The first thing is, what I just touched on, is play GPPs, not cash games. The second is rather than saying invest 10% in a slate, that’s really high if you’re playing GPPs. I would say at an absolute maximum do not invest more than 5% of your bankroll on any given slate. And that’s, to be completely honest, relatively aggressive. I still think you can weather the storm if you’re playing the right contest and building your lineups the right way on 5% of your bankroll on a slate, but you want to be cautious. And you also want to be sure that the slates you’re playing don’t have overlap, because if you’re playing two different slates that have 50% of the games are the same between them, you can’t just treat them independently. Your results from one are going to be correlated to your results on the other. So just keep that in mind and don’t go too crazy.

The way I like to look at it is really, I do 5% of my bankroll on any given day and I’ll try to get a few different slates in there, but I usually avoid, for the most part, the funkier ones like showdowns and single games. Those can still be fun and very profitable, but for now let’s just focus on the bread and butter games, those main slates. And for that, stick to 5% at most.

If you are willing to redeposit, then you can consider that amount you’re willing to put into your bankroll eventually, your true bankroll, but make sure you’re being realistic with yourself there. And that the number you’re picking as your bankroll is a number that you are completely willing to deposit and potentially lose and is something you can afford.

This may make it seem like you’re not wagering too much, and that’s all right, because what we are trying to do is build a process that will let us survive the big swings that come with GPPs and our ROI in the long run is going to be much higher in GPPs than it would be in cash games, so it’s going to compound quickly, your results are going to compound, and you’re going to be able to move up in stakes, but you have to be able to weather those ups and downs that come along with playing the GPPs. And if you’re risking more than that on any given day, you have a big risk of going bust. And not only to mention it, but as long as you keep getting these entries in there and keep playing day after day, you’re going to have that strong ROI, but you also have that potential for the big score that can completely overhaul and improve your bankroll.

The important thing to know here is that going into DFS, when you’re playing GPPs, you’re going to lose most nights. Even the top pros are losing probably around 70% of the time. And when I say that, I don’t mean that like 7% of their lineups are losing. I mean, on the night their net total is negative. They are losing overall on any given night probably 70% of the time. And that is fine because when you play these contests right, when you build the right sort of lineups for this, your wins are more than going to make up for that. But you have to be able to weather those losses to fight another day. This really is a long-term game. And that’s why we’re talking about a long-term process here.

We figured out, okay, we’re going to put about 5% of our bankroll in for a given day. How do we spread that out? What contests do we want to play? And this is something that really doesn’t get focused on nearly enough. There’s a few factors you want to think about.

First is the buy-in. And so DraftKings and FanDuel, what they’ve actually done is they restrict anyone who has entered more than a million dollars in contests in the lifetime of their account, those players cannot enter a contest with a buy-in under $3, so they can only play contest $3 and up. You want to find ways to avoid all of those players, those real serious pros who are doing this as a full-time job, find out how just not to play against them. The first thing we want to do is look at those low buy-in contests.

The next thing is try to find contests where it’s more likely that the average opponent is going to be a worst player. And what usually this comes down to is you want to find larger contests. You want to find contests with at least 1000 effective entrants. And this is something where you’re not just looking at the total number of entrants in a contest you’re looking at, okay, how many entries could I put into this? And if everyone maxed it out, if everyone put in that maximum number of entries, how many people would it take to fill up the contest?

Because what you have to think about is that the top pros, they are going …. There are many pros at the $3 and under range, even ones that might be eligible for higher stakes, they still can play those cheaper contests. So there are a lot of seriously skilled players out there who are going to max out whatever contest they play. And because of that, you can’t just say, all right, like this … Let me find a good example of it.

So, this is 20 max. It’s $4. That means anyone is eligible to play this. There are 37,000 entries. So divide that by two and you get about 1,850 theoretical opponents that you could be playing against. That’s 1,850 different people. And so in my mind, that’s enough players that are in there where they can’t all be pros. And you’re not going to get everyone maxing it out. So you’re going to get a few thousand players in there and across that, you’re going to get a good mix of casual players, especially because it is a lower buy-in.

But let’s look at some of these other ones, even the sub $3 ones. We’ve got this mini max with a 50 cent entry. To max it out would take $75. There’s 23,000 entries. Bad at math off the top of my head. Yeah, this could be maxed out by only 158 people entering it. And I can assure you that there are 158 very good players who are still eligible for this contest. I’m not saying they’re all going to max it out, but this is going to be a much tougher contest, even though it is at the smaller stakes. So you just want to say, okay, how can I find the contests that have, on average, enough people in it so they’re not all going to be sharp players. And that also is kind of built on the entry cap, where you’re looking for the contest, where those strong players can’t put in a ton of lineups and just have a disproportionate impact on the effective skill level of them. This is usually going to be you want to pick the single entries, the 3 entries, sometimes a 20, and then as you start wagering more and more, you’re going to have to get into the 150 max.

Let me just actually show you how I’m going to do this. I’m going to wager about $250 for opening day for this main slate. The first thing I want to do is I’ll take off this and just put it [inaudible 00:09:26], I’m going to type in single entry. I’m always going to prioritize the single entry contests. And let me go through this also step by step so that if you’re entering a different amount, you can see the exact contests I pick.

Let’s just start with say, okay, your bankroll is $200, you’re going to put in $10. What would I do with that? First, you can see there’s a couple Daily Dollars. These are $1 entry contests so they’re below that $3 threshold with nearly 5,000 entrants in it. These are going to be soft contests. They are going to have a relatively easy player pool to go up against. So what we’re going to do is enter this, I’m going to as quickly build what’s called like a dummy lineup, just to reserve my spot, but at the end of the video, I will talk more about like, what do we actually do here? How do we get our lineups in and make sure that we actually have like a decent lineup in here? I’m just putting in something quick and I have no plan on actually leaving that entry in there, it’s just to hold the spot and I will, during this video, replace that.

Now that I have the placeholder in here, it gets very easy for me to enter other contests. We click that bulk enter button over here, and on FanDuel is a very similar process as well, and set our filters for below 30. And we want to say, okay, we’ve got that one. We want to place other Daily Dollars. We’ve got $2 there. This Pickoff is, the experienced players can play this, however it’s $3 so you know there’s going to be a lot of casual players entering it. And there’s 2,700 people in it, almost 3000. I’m very fine playing this, especially as a single entry. And also the same goes for the Chin Music, which is $5. Still a large field, single entry, we’re fine to get that. We already have $1 in, that gets us to $10 and those will be the first contests that I’m focused on.

From here, let’s see what else is out there. If we want to get to, say, $25 in risk, we have a $500 bankroll, I would still focus on these single entries as long as there are good options for it. And I actually should filter for tournaments because it was showing me the double ups. I’m going to play this $12 Base Hit because this actually has more people in it than a $3 contest and the $5. And so I think this is going to be a good one. That gets us to $22. I’m looking for $3 in entries left. Now I type in max and that will show me the 3 entries, the 20 entries, and also the 250, but like, I’m focused right now on the 3 entries.

We’ve got a couple here. These ones do not have more than 1000 effective entrants. This hot corner does. However, this is where you kind of have to make some choices and, like, you’re going to have to make trade offs at any point. There’s not like this one rubric you can follow to know exactly which ones to pick. Use your judgment, but as long as you’re following us directionally in the same way, you’re going to be fine.

One thing I would note is for a lot of these smaller contests, like the Daily Dollar, the Strike Three, they are going to be constantly putting more of these out. It’s not as though it’s just one contest that when it fills, it’s done. This, I think, is actually going to be the easiest so I’m going to put three entries into it. And that will get me all the way to $25. And now let’s say we’re going to $50. Whereas like this 5 is going to be [inaudible 00:13:19] like the next play, because the effective number of entrants is nearly 1,000 but I really do want to always be below that $3 threshold. Let’s say we’re trying to get $50. We have a $1000 bankroll. This gets us, what to $40?And so we now need $10. This isn’t quite there, but close enough, this will get us to $49. And we picked this one, that’s again, over the $3 threshold, but it has more than 1000 effective entrants, it’s still going to be a good contest to play.

If I only had a $1000 bankroll or $500 bankroll or $200 bankroll, these are the only contests I’d be playing. I wouldn’t be dealing with those huge contests that have a ton of sharks in it, and a very top heavy payout structure where like, you literally need to win if you want to make any money. I’m trying to pick my spots where I can play against the weakest average opponent. And this is how you’re doing that.

So, let’s get to $100. We do have these mini max’s. These are tough contests. Even though they’re below the $3 threshold, there are still a lot of good players playing these. And the mini max’s, when they have a high entry limit, they’re just going to attract the players who are maxing it out or putting in a lot of entries, which is just not what a casual player is going to do.

In this case, even though these are below the $3 threshold, the effective number of entrants isn’t that great, and they’re just tough contests. So I’m going to pick this Four Seamer to get over the hump. I can’t max it out and that’s okay. You don’t need to max out every contest that you play, but you do want to first pick those kinds of lower entry limit contests before you start playing these higher ones. To get me to $100 I’ll do like $1 over. Good enough. So we now have $100 in entries.

To go from here … Let me just get to what I’m actually going to do, which is about $250. I’ll max this one out. So I guess [inaudible 00:15:45] like $129, and then let’s look at what else is out there. I don’t plan to play on anything bigger, but I just want to make sure I didn’t miss anything. So we’ve got, okay, already played the single entry. This is a contest I wouldn’t even consider playing unless I viewed it like purely as a lotto ticket. You’re going to have … This is what all the sharks are going to be maxing out. And it doesn’t take that many of them to fill it up. Because this has a huge first place, it’s the biggest prize pool, you’re going to get a lot of casual players in it, but they’re putting in 1, 2, 3, maybe 5 lineups. It doesn’t take that many sharks putting in 150 to completely negate the impact of those handful of casual players. So if you want to have a lottery ticket, that’s fine, but this is not how we’re going to grind up a bankroll here. This is not how we’re going to consistently win at DFS.

Then there’s other ones, like, this is 150 max. This is going to be tougher than the 15. Got all these. There is this one, but like … The Quarter Jukebox. This one actually, I should have put this in earlier, but because of my filter, it didn’t pick it up because it didn’t say max in the title, but it’s a 20 max contest, has almost 2000 effective entrants, extra $5 so it definitely should be playing that. Not this one because pros can play it, only 235 entrants.

There’s going to be like a Dime Time right here. Let’s just … These don’t add up too much, but I really should have focused on those earlier. And what I would say for these ones is if you have a smaller bankroll I would still try to play those single entry and 3 max contests, because these don’t … They’re going to keep posting these. So whenever they constantly post contests, the average field is just weaker. But like still a 20 max contest is going to attract people that want to build multiple lineups and the people who are typically doing that are going to be sharper players. So even though these are definitely going to be soft contests, I really wouldn’t have added them in too much earlier. Like maybe before the … Definitely before the Four Seamer, but like probably if I’m trying to get like, from $25 to $50, I would put these in, but there’s just enough single entries where I wouldn’t be considering a 20 max until like I’ve exhausted the good $3 … Not the $3, but the good 3 max contests. You’ve got those. That’s going to cover it for the basics. Now let’s figure out where do I want to get the rest of my buy-ins.

Just looking at this, probably like about $100 left to get to $250, I’m comfortable going a little bit over but try not to go too crazy here. So, really what it comes down to is I’m not going to play these high dollar ones. I still want to get below that $3 maximum as much as I can. And it’s between the mini max’s. This is where, again, like, you’re trying to avoid the sharper contest for as long as you can. But as you start wagering more, you’re going to have to take some other chances and play some tougher fields. But that’s okay because in a minute I’ll talk about the adjustments you have to make and how, frankly, it’s not that much more difficult to play these kinds of contexts when you have the right tools. Yeah, it’s just part of the game. As you move up, you’re going to have to play tougher contests, but you still want to pick the right ones.

Like I said, this 50 cent one, it’s deceptively sharp. Like, 158 effective entrants. I would guess you’re probably going to have 100 people that are reasonable, that are using an optimizer, they’re using projections, they’re using all of that, max it out. And then that’s going to give you a handful of more casual players in there.

This $1 contest is a bigger prize pool, which is going to track more casual players. And it just frankly, has a much higher effective entrants. It’s still not 100, but like it’s going to track more casual players. And honestly, what you’re going to find is that the people maxing this one out are almost always going to max out the 50 cent one. I’m just not because I am trying to stay within those bankroll [inaudible 00:20:36] we talked about. And I think this is just a harder contest then people really give it credit for it.

So, in my mind, it’s a pretty clear choice to go with the mini max and like I said, I’m going to be a little bit more aggressive with my bankroll because it is opening day, but I’m not going to max out the 50 cent one because I really just think that’s a lot harder of a contest then people give it credit for. But this one is a big enough pool where I would not be surprised if the average score is higher in the 50 cent one than the $1 one. So let’s go with that. And now we’re good.

We’ve got our bankroll invested and I hope this has shown you a bit more about like how to think strategically about the contest you’re playing. This is something that people don’t think nearly enough about, but just following these tips, I’ve given you will be enough to significantly impact your ROI.

And again, just make it so that it’s easier for you to weather those ups and downs because you’re playing the right contests where you have a higher return and you’re still sending yourself up for a good score, if you can make it.

This next video, we’ll talk about what to actually do with all this once we’ve got our lineups in.