DFS Contest Types

When looking at the lobby of a DFS site such as Draft Kings, you will see a large selection of DFS contests to play in across many different sports.  Working out which type of contest to play will depend on how much you want to risk, your level of experience, and what your aims are from entering a contest.

There are some key fundamental differences between the strategy might adopt when picking your line-up for different types of Daily Fantasy Sports contests and here we will give some more detail on Contest Types than is given in the DFS glossary.

Types of DFS ContestsDFS Contests

As a general role, Daily Fantasy Sports Contests can be divided into two main categories which are ‘Cash Contests’ and ‘Tournament Contests’:

Cash DFS Contests

These are contests where there is no guaranteed prizepool and you are usually restricted to one entry. Many cash contests will give you a 50% chance of winning money.  This makes cash contests very popular with players trying to gradually build up their bankroll as although it may not be possible to win huge off a small investment, the chances of winning are much higher.

Examples of DFS Cash Contests would be 50/50s, Double Ups, Head-to-Heads, Leagues, Multipliers:

A 50/50 is a type of contest where the top 50% of the field come away with winnings, and the bottom 50% lose their entry fee. 50/50 contests are a great way to play for real money and improve your game whilst regularly winning prizes as you only need to finish in the top 50% of entrants to win money. In a 50/50 game you don’t truly double your buy-in as the host of the contest will take a fee so the amount of cash won by each player is slightly lower than double the entry fee.

A Double-Up is a type of 1-Day Fantasy Sports contest that is similar to a 50/50 game, in that all winners receive the same payout. In a double-Up game, you actually double your buy-in when finishing in the prize pool. To finish in the money, you need to place slightly higher than half of the participants.

Sometimes known as a ‘Heads Up’ contest, a Head-to-Head contest is where you compete against another daily fantasy player for a prize (typically just under double your entry fee minus the site’s rake).

A ‘League’ is a generic term covering a lot of pay-out options, a league has more than two people in it. Users have the ability to create their own leagues on some sites, which can be public or private.

A ‘Multiplier’ is a type of contest that pays out a certain multiplier of your buy-in (For instance, a $2 buy-in 5X contest will pay $10 to prize winners).

Who should play Cash Contests?

Cash contests are great for all players but especially for beginners who want to come in and try playing Daily Fantasy Sports for real money as the contests are low variance meaning you will earn money more consistently playing cash contests than in GPP Tournament Contests, even if the potential winnings each contest aren’t so high.

What strategy should be considered for Cash Contests?

With cash contests you are trying to pick a team that you will think will score heavily but unlike GPP Tournament contests, you should not be too concerned with trying to take a contrary view and pick too many players that others won’t pick for a chance to finish with the most points in the contest.  Taking the example of a 50/50 contest with 10 players.  You will not receive any more cash for coming 1st out of 10 players as you would if you come 5th out of the 10 players, you just need to land in the top 50%, therefore taking unnecessary risks and ‘gambling’ on players who have a higher scoring variance isn’t really necessary.  Picking steady consistent points scorers is a sure fire way to perform well in cash games.

Tournament DFS Contests

Tournaments are often referred to as GPPs (Guaranteed Prizepools) and as the name suggests there is normally a certain amount of money guaranteed for those taking part in the contest.  Most tournaments permit multi-entries so it is possible to enter a tournament many times.  A characteristic of GPP tournament contests that differentiates them from cash games is the prizes are normally only paid to a small % of winnings players.  This can range from 10-25% but it means that up to 90% of entries in a GPP won’t win a prize.  It also means in this case that the total prizepool is only being split between 10% of players allowing huge returns on an initial low investment.  A good example would be Draft Kings Fantasy Golf contest for the U.S. Masters that featured a $4 million prizepool but just a $27 entry fee.  The winner of the contest received $1 million which is a huge return on $27 investment, however the winner had to beat over 140,000 other entrants to win.

Examples of Tournament DFS Contests would be GPPs and Qualifiers:

GPP is an abbreviation of the term ‘Guaranteed prize pool tournament’. Also known as a guaranteed tournament. In this type of tournament, the contest is guaranteed to run regardless of the number of entrants in the game with the prizepool stated on the host site. Typically a small number of entrants win prizes and as such the winner’s prizes can be substantially higher than their entry fee. A good example of a large GPP tournament is Draftkings Golf Millionaire Maker that had an entry fee of $27 but a ‘Guaranteed Prizepool’ of $4million, with $1million prize for the first place finisher.

Also referred to as ‘Satellites’, a ‘Qualifier’ is a contest in which the grand prize or prizes is free entry into another contests, usually one with a larger prize pool. Many qualifiers only award tickets to other contests and no cash prizes.

Who should play Tournament DFS Contests?

Tournament contests are great fun because you have a chance for a huge return on your entry investment.  However due to the high variance nature of tournament contests, new players should be very careful about investing too much of their total bankroll in GPP contests whilst still learning how to play Daily Fantasy Sports.

What strategy should be considered for GPP Tournament Contests?

With so many entrants playing in many GPP contests, and the payouts heavily skewed towards the top finishers, it can pay rich dividends not to just go with popular consensus and pick the most obvious selections for your lineup, but to try and unearth some hidden gems or selections that not many others have but have some potential for high scoring.

How much of your bankroll should you invest in cash DFS contests versus tournament DFS contests?

All players will have a preference for the type of contest they want to try however although it is very attractive to chase the big win by just playing GPP tournament contests.  Even highly experienced and winning players however can go long periods of not winning anything in GPPs due to the higher variance associated with playing them.  At Fantasy Fives we advocate an 80/20 rule for a new player to consider when looking at how to split their investment in contests, with 80% of investment recommended for cash games and 20% or lower for GPP tournament contests.  This may change as you learn the game but this is a good balance and if staking correctly should help ensure you do not burn through your bankroll whilst learning how to play Daily Fantasy Sports.

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