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Daily Fantasy Football 101: Bankroll Management

Nir Elitzur

Nir Elitzur

Nir Elitzur aka “Dug Fister” has been playing fantasy sports for over 15 years. Combining his background of sports betting and fantasy sports knowledge he began playing DFS. In order to help new DFS players, Nir decided to start writing for various fantasy outlets. Nir currently contributes for RotoWire, FakeTeams, and RazzBall.


In this strategy piece, I will be looking at the importance of managing your bankroll, and how it will make or break your season. Coming from a sports betting background, I learned the hard way that self-control and discipline are the backbone of bankroll management. When I started betting on sports, I did not manage my bankroll properly. I was winning at a higher rate than losing, but saw minimal growth. I took a step back, reevaluated what I was doing wrong, and came up with a new plan. I started researching bankroll management and finally got a grasp on how sports bettors persevered. When I started playing daily fantasy sports (DFS), I applied those same bankroll management rules. With the wisdom I am about to unleash on you, this will help you avoid the rookie mistakes I made.

What does the term “bankroll” mean?

The term bankroll is quite simple – it is the amount of money you have to play DFS. For instance, if you have $100 in your DraftKings or FanDuel account, that is your bankroll.

How much should you deposit on a DFS site?

Each player has a different budget. New players should take advantage of deposit bonuses offered on DFS sites. The best advice I can give you is to test the waters and don’t go overboard at the beginning. Do not deposit an amount that will affect your quality of life.

What percentage of my bankroll should I play per day/week?

This is a tricky question. Every DFS player will give you a different answer. Some players don’t play more than 10 percent of their bankroll on any given day/week. I personally wouldn’t go over 20 percent, which is quite high. In certain circumstances, like instances of overlay, you can bump your percentages up by 5 percent. Never play your whole bankroll in one night/week – that is what we call “bankroll suicide”.

Setting Goals

Daily fantasy should be approached like life, you need to set goals – without goals you are essentially a dog chasing it’s tail. I like to look at the daily fantasy hierarchy the same way I look at the poker and sports betting model.

There are three different types of players:

- The Recreational Player: The recreational players are known as fish. Why are they called fish? Because sharks feed on fish. A fish will play strictly for amusement, he doesn’t care if he wins or loses. It won’t affect his life, since he doesn’t depend on daily fantasy for income.

- The Serious Players: Serious players are wolves. They enjoy success, but DFS isn’t their only source of income. Like “the fish” they won’t be out on the street if they lose their bankroll

- The Pros: I refer to professional DFS players as sharks. Sharks feed on daily fantasy. This is their livelihood; if they lose their bankroll it is equivalent to losing their jobs.

I am going to assume most the readers will fall in the “fish” or “wolf” category, and there is nothing wrong with that. Hopefully here at RotoWire we can give you the tools and information to help you be a steady “wolf” and possibly and eventual shark.

How do I grow my bankroll?

Every expert will tell you that the key to growing your bankroll is discipline. In my humble opinion, the key to see growth is by playing cash games, since the odds of you winning are 50 percent, where as in tournaments there is a significantly lower chance of winning. In the next section I will break down the different types of games offered on daily fantasy sites – this should help you get a better idea on how to approach where to put your money.

Game Selection

There are many different DFS competitions every day. In this section I will guide you on how to properly divide your bankroll in these games.

- 50/50: As mentioned previously, this is where bankrolls grow – this is the soil to your seed. New players should take advantage of “beginner” 50/50’s; this is where you can forecast how successful you will be. If you finish in the top 20 percentile consistently, you are well on your way to being a successful DFS player. If you finish closer to the 50 percentile you should reevaluate your strategy.

- Head To Head: Head to head games are pretty straight forward, like your seasonal fantasy leagues you are matched up against an opponent – whomever scores the most points wins.

- Guaranteed Prize Pools – These are large field tournaments, usually the top 18 percentile win depending on the site you play on. This is where people get rich or poor, depending how your approach.

I am personally a firm believer that 80% percent of your budget should be played in 50/50’s and cash games. The reason I believe this is because the odds are in your favor for a return on investment. Obviously, the ROI percentage will be significantly lower than a GPP, but the risk is much lower.

Example A: Your bankroll is $200, you play $20 on day X (10 percent), $16 (80 percent) goes towards cash games, $4 (20 percent) goes in to GPP’s. If you win your H2H & 50/50’s and lose your tournament entries you still profited $8.80 which is a 44 percent ROI.

Example B: Your bankroll is $200, you play $20 on day X (10 percent), $16 (80 percent) goes towards GPP’s, $4 (20 percent) goes in to cash games. If you win your cash games and lose your GPP’s, you end up losing $12.80.

The moral of this section is simple – do not chase the “big win” in tournaments, as the results won’t end well. Chasing wins will be catastrophic to your bankroll, and it will be very difficult to rebound.

Keep Tabs Of Your Results

I can’t stress how important this is. It doesn’t matter how you track your results, whether by computer or by primitive pen and paper. Some DFS sites actually let you to export your history in to an excel spreadsheet, which can be very useful to show your ROI.

Tracking your results should show you the types of games you are successful in, and how to make adjustments to strategies.

Example: You might win 70 percent of your 50/50’s but lose 70 percent of your H2H games, which means you should change your approach. In this case you should be playing more 50/50’s.

Cold Streaks

This is where the weak are separated from the strong. A cold streak can kill your bankroll, especially if you start to chase. Managing your bankroll during a cold streak is as crucial as it gets. No matter what happens never play more than 10 percent of your bankroll. Whatever you do, do not chase, as the odds are you won’t win it all back in one day. Live by these rules, or watch your money evaporate.

Conclusion

In conclusion, bankroll management will make or break your DFS career. Don’t let bad nights discourage you -- sometimes even the right decision will not pan. The key is consistency and managing your bankroll. Follow the steps provided and you should stay afloat all season long. Most importantly – have fun. Fantasy sports is meant to be a form of an entertainment and it’s not worth losing your hair over.