I made my initial foray into the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) world in the summer of 2012, as a casual low-stakes player who was looking for something different. Thinking back, I'm pretty sure I was having a terrible year across the board in my season-long fantasy baseball leagues and needed something (anything) to get that extra fix. I'm sure many of my fellow fantasy sports degenerates can relate. Perhaps you took a similar plunge into DFS waters? Regardless of how you got involved in the hobby -- or career, for those who are skilled enough -- the DFS industry has exploded into the mainstream, with DraftKings securing a deal earlier this summer to become the official fantasy sports sponsor of the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
As someone who previously made a living playing online poker before I eventually gave up that endeavor to start a family, I've long thought about the crossover potential between poker and fantasy sports. Ultimately, I feel the partnership between DraftKings and the WSOP will benefit both brands, but DraftKings stands to gain the most, especially when ESPN starts broadcasting coverage of the 2014 WSOP tournaments later this summer. Millions of viewers, many of whom have never even heard of the DFS acronym, will be exposed to the DraftKings brand. They'll see the DraftKings logo plastered across the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino (the host site of the 2014 WSOP), while commercials that hype free or paid DFS contests air on ESPN. With NFL training camps scheduled to begin around the same time that the WSOP airs, interest and participation in DraftKings’ fantasy football contests could exceed my already lofty expectations for the site. Traffic will be at an all-time high, which begs the question, could a "DFS boom" be forthcoming?
Of course, I'm relating this to the poker boom that was triggered by amateur player Chris Moneymaker, who won satellite entry into the 2003 WSOP Main Event via a popular online poker room, before he was ultimately crowned champion. Moneymaker's "Average Joe Turned Millionaire" story spread like wildfire and elevated poker and the WSOP brand on a global level. By comparison, it's not far-fetched to think a DraftKings user could accomplish a similar feat, albeit on a lesser scale. I don't see ESPN broadcasting DFS anytime soon, nor do I see the industry's premier contests offering up anything close to the $10 million dollar grand prize that the WSOP will award to this year's Main Event champion. Even still, the crossover between poker and fantasy sports is showing signs of life in 2014.
As part of their new partnership, DraftKings ran DFS satellite tournaments this summer that awarded entry into the 2014 WSOP Main Event. DraftKings ultimately sent ten satellite winners to Las Vegas to compete in the tournament, and they received airfare, hotel accommodations and other rewards as part of the prize package. While nothing is guaranteed, consider the slight possibility that the 2014 WSOP Main Event champion could have earned his or her way into the tournament by playing Daily Fantasy Sports.
While the games of poker and DFS have obvious differences, there are some similarities between the two genres. DFS contest offerings and the platform by which we participate in the contests are nearly identical to that of online poker. Much like an online poker player enters a freeroll, tournament or cash game via a lobby that outlines the daily schedule, DraftKings users enter DFS contests in the same manner. Conversely, any poker player who dips their toes into the DFS pool for the first time will instantly recognize terminology such as "freeroll," "qualifier," "guaranteed prize pool," or "GPP" for short, "head-to-head," and "sit-and-go."
Not only are the setup and structure of DFS and online poker similar, both are considered skill games that reward experienced and knowledgeable players long-term. It's important for DFS and poker players alike to account for variance, but players who put in serious research - like many of you do here at RotoWire - stand a better chance of profiting long-term than the casual player does. RotoWire's Benjamin Slocum recently published DraftKings Fantasy Football: Targeting Players Based On Their Competition - Team Pace - a valuable piece to help prepare you for the upcoming Daily Fantasy Football season. Take advantage of these resources if and when you can.
Given the similarities between poker and DFS and the budding partnership between the WSOP and DraftKings, it's easy to say that the DFS industry has an increasingly bright future ahead. If you haven't done so already, I highly encourage you to sign up at DraftKings today.