Recap at the All Star Break

Last week:

  • Monday 7/3: Didn’t play
  • Tuesday 7/4: Won $60 on $115 of entries ($55 loss)
  • Wednesday 7/5: Won $7 on $52 of entries ($45 loss)
  • Thursday 7/6: Didn’t play
  • Friday 7/7: Won $247 on $76 of entries ($171 gain)
  • Saturday 7/8: Won $48 on $200 of entries ($152 loss)
  • Sunday 7/9: Won $64 of $88 of entries ($24 loss)

Down $105 on the week. As I said in the last post, that run I went on winning close to $1400 in a little over two weeks playing the cheapie games was definitely not sustainable, and I had a little mean reversion the last few days.

Other than a decent day Friday I didn’t have any other days up, and I played my biggest day of the year on Saturday with $200 of entries that came up pretty flat.

During the Saturday day games (the 1:00 / 4:00 games), I played $80 of entries that netted a loss of $32 and I thought about calling it a day because I didn’t like any of the Arcade Mode games for the night games (none had any slates with more than 3 games, and those games are harder to have an edge in). While there were no Arcade Mode ones that I liked, there was a standard game that covered both the 7:00 games and the west coast 10:00 games (an 8 game slate).

I entered a $40 entry, 433-player contest. Winner gets $2,500. I thought that looked decent and made up one squad, stacking the Dodgers. A couple minutes before it started I went to make a lineup change and noticed that of the 433 entries available, there were still 100 or so empty. That’s a lot. I figured only about 50 of these would actually get filled, leaving somewhere around 50 blank entries in a 433 entry contest where the top 104 are in the money.

A Draftkings contest with a bunch of blank entries is like a stacked deck in Blackjack. If you know how to count cards, you up your bet when the remainder of the deck is filled with aces and royal cards and the advantage on that hand has flipped from the house to the players. Draftkings makes money by paying out just a little less than the sum of the entry fees in a given contest, but that only works if every contest fills. If the contest doesn’t fill up, they might only break even or possibly lose money. Even an unskilled player can have an advantage in that situation, and if you really know what you’re doing those games are ideal.

A couple minutes before it went live I said screw it and tripled my bet for a total of $120, entering it two more times with the same team.

I ended up 1.5 points out of the money (again because they count the god damn win as 5 points, I’ve been hosed on that more than anything else this year). That sucks but I would slam that game again in a New York minute if I get the chance.

I know I took a month and a half off while studying for the CFA, so this isn’t really half of a full season, but if I’m gonna take stock I’ve turned the $350 I’ve deposited into Draftkings since the beginning of the year into $1,249.89 in about 6 weeks of playing. I’m pretty happy with that.

If this all goes pretty well the next few weeks I might consider giving myself a much bigger bankroll for September. For MLB DFS the two points in the season where the most amount of stupid money is floating around is in April and September.

April is pretty obvious. During the first month a bunch of people get excited for baseball, play a little Draftkings to try it out, and most of them lose their money pretty quickly and quit playing.

September is huge because that’s when regular season NFL games start. By far the number one source of revenue for DFS sites is football. Starting in September, a bunch of idiots will put a bunch of money into Draftkings to play NFL DFS, and they’ll have nothing to do with it between Sundays, so a lot of them will play MLB for shits and gigs. September is open season on these sheeple, and if all goes well that’s when I’ll start to up the amount I’m playing each day.

 

 

 

 

 

Week of July 2: Recap

My last post was a mid-week update from a few days ago. I’d recommend reading it to get some context on how my strategy has shifted since I started and why I think it’s working so well. The hot streak has only gotten hotter since that last post.

I’m fleecing the $4 entry arcade mode games right now.

I was in the green all 7 days this week, which isn’t something I thought would ever happen. This type of consistency is definitely unsustainable, but whatever, I’m enjoying the ride.

  • Monday 6/26: Won $40 on $20 of entries ($20 gain)
  • Tuesday 6/27: Won $255 on $53 of entries ($202 gain)
  • Wednesday 6/28:  Won $46 on $28 of entries ($18 gain)
  • Thursday 6/29: Won $104 on $48 of entries ($56 gain)
  • Friday 6/30: Won $94 on $55 of entries ($39 gain)
  • Saturday 7/1: Won $90 on $53 of entries ($37 gain)
  • Sunday 7/2: Won $369 on $73 of entries ($296 gain)

$668 profit. Huge week capped off by a 3rd place finish in a 105-entry tournament with a $33 entry fee on Sunday.

Going back to Friday 6/23 I’ve made a little over $1,400. Again, I don’t think this type of run is sustainable, but it’s definitely been fun. The fact that I’ve done this while limiting the amount I’m waging each day to around $50 or so is even more encouraging. I know that there isn’t as much “dumb money” in the higher stakes games, but the ultimate goal is to get my bankroll large enough to start dabbling in those.

I played a lot of Draftkings for shits and gigs in the past few years and would be lucky to get in the money on 1 or 2 out of every 10 contests I played. The fact that I took the time to build out a model in Excel to run matchups and pretty quickly started making a side income playing Draftkings should prove without a shadow of a doubt that this is not a “game of chance” as was argued by a few state government to try and get daily fantasy sports outlawed. I don’t think many people bought that argument anyway, but if you want hard proof here it is.

If you’re still someone who plays the cheapie games on Draftkings thinking of it as basically a scratch off lottery ticket, I’ve got bad news for you. No one can be “skilled” at scratch off lottery tickets. There are lots of people (I’d like to think myself included) who are definitely skilled at this and have a significant advantage over the average sports fan who doesn’t crunch the numbers that really matter.

As someone looking to eventually get into asset management (mostly for normal assets like stocks and bonds, although if I get good enough at this……..) I also think there’s a really good learning experience to be had here for never getting too high or low based on recent performance. The day after I nailed an $800 payday, I was feeling my oats and pretty tempted to throw down on $200 entry game the next day. That would have been stupid and would have tipped this from my original intent (managing the bankroll responsibly) toward degenerate gambling.

Anyway, it’s easy to sit here and say I’m going to manage this responsibly, but I won’t lie if I said I didn’t feel more confident the day after a great performance and am never tempted to throw down the house on a single game. I feel like that’s a pretty good thing to experience and work out the kinks with a few hundred dollars of my own money rather than when/if I’m ever managing other people’s money during the ups and downs of the stock/bond market.

Just gotta keep on T’ ing the P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

En Fuego – Mid Week Update

At the beginning of the season I said I was gonna put $1,000 into Draftkings and see where I could take that. I ended up only putting in $250 to start, and when that dwindled down to close to zip I put in another $100. I had $13 of that left last Friday, and since then (the last 7 days I’ve played), I’ve won $1,399 on $424 of entries ($975 profit).

And that’s pretty much just playing the cheap $4 games (although I’ll play between 8-10 entries on a given day).

On Monday I played the standard version, but other than that it’s all been arcade mode. I really think I have a competitive advantage over most of the people playing in the arcade mode games. My gut feeling is that the skilled players are staying away from it so far (it’s only been out for 6 weeks or so) since it’s mostly cheaper games and there are very few games where the winner gets over around $2,000. It’s also so much easier for someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing and just playing for fun to make teams in arcade mode. Positions for hitters don’t matter, you just pick a pitcher, find 5 hitters that work, and you’re off. Anecdotally, I have a friend at work who plays casually and he mentioned he prefers arcade mode for that exact reason.

All of the free websites out there like Rotogrinders that the semi-serious players use gear their advice toward what teams to stack, assuming you’re playing the standard version, and I would say the decisions I was coming to using my model were basically the same as what was being put out by Rotogrinders and a few others. What I’m saying is, I wasn’t coming up with anything where I felt like I had an advantage over others, and I was getting crushed.

Where I noticed I was a lot better than the free stuff was finding the diamonds in the rough – cheap hitters who I felt were way underpriced. The problem with the standard version is it would be really tough to work in the one or two cheap plays I really liked, especially if I wanted to stack a team that already had those positions covered.

On Tuesday, I had the Brewers’ Manny Pina and the Royals’ Brandon Moss as the two best players on the day priced under $5,000 (that’s really cheap in arcade mode). Pina hit a dinger and Moss was 2-4 with a couple RBIs and a double. It’s huge to get production like that out of the cheapie guys, as they’re going to have really low ownership and the more “reliable” hitters have to do so much less to get in the money.

My goal is to get my bankroll up to the point where I can start playing some of the big boy games on a regular basis. At this point, if I start significantly upping the amount I play each day a cold streak could still end up wiping me out, which I’d like to avoid for the time being.

I feel a little bit vindicated that this whole thing is working, but who knows how long it’ll last. I’ve only been playing arcade mode for about 10 days, so I’m not sure if I can expect to win this consistently or if I’m just on a hot streak right now. Time will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week of June 25 Recap: Kill. The. F#!@%*&. Win.

I mentioned in one of the intro posts that I hate how Draftkings counts a win as points for a pitcher. My preference would be to just leave it out of scoring altogether and make the pitcher picks a pure play on the actual pitcher and not the team he plays for. Obviously, if a pitcher has a great game and leaves in the 8th inning in a 0-0 game, he can’t get the win. There are a ton of examples like this. It’s no secret the win isn’t a great metric for evaluation a pitcher anymore, so why continue to count it as points?

The win is the Official Statistic of People Who’ve Been Watching Baseball Since 1935. If they want to continue to track wins, my thought is sure whatever, but stop acting like it’s a good way to evaluate a pitcher’s season (or an individual game). I don’t feel like digging it up, but there’s still evidence that guys who hit “milestone” numbers of wins in a season like 10, 15 or 20, get a paid more in free agency than equivalent pitchers who fell just short of those milestones. There’s still a psychological tendency for GMs and owners to prefer pitcher who are “winners”, even if racking up a lot of wins isn’t a particularly good way of evaluating that trait.

Question: Why the hell am I so fired up about the win right now?

Answer: It single-handedly cost me $750 on Friday night.

On Friday night, I played an Arcade Mode tournament with 5 or so different teams for the 7:00 slate of games. I had Strasburg pitching on all the teams, and he gave up 4 runs in the 1st inning and the whole thing was shot in the first couple minutes. Not wanting to ruin my crazy Friday night making Draftkings baseball teams, I fired up the Excel model for the slate of the later west coast games.

I had 5 $4 entries in a 4,411 person tournament, all with the Tigers’ Michael Fulmer as the pitcher and slightly different array of 5 hitters on each team. As a quick recap, in Arcade Mode you pick a pitcher and 5 hitters (regardless of position), and can’t have more than 2 hitters from the same team (so no stacking).

The top 3 spots in the tournament paid out $1,500, $1,000, and $750 respectively.

One of my entries got 3rd, good for 750 bones but 8 points out of winning the tournament. Michael Fulmer pitched a great game with a bunch of Ks but the Tigers lost 1-0 to the Padres. Everyone else at the top had the Dodgers’ Alex Wood as their pitcher, who had a worse game than Fulmer but the Dodgers and Wood got the win, good for 10 points in Arcade Mode. If the win doesn’t count, I win the whole. god. damn. thing.

Coupled with my other entries that did well, I came away with $822 from that tournament (screenshot below).

Winner

 

Finally got my first solid pay day, and I’m well back in the green after being down about $300 on the season prior to that.

In Arcade Mode, I’ve been playing a “shotgun” style, where I make 5 or 6 different teams for each slate of games. Each team usually has the same pitcher, but with slightly different assortments of hitters. I’ll have 1 or 2 hitters I really like on every team, but around that I switch it up. When I was playing the traditional style where I was stacking one team, I would typically make 1 team and stick with it. In Arcade Mode, where you don’t have to take positions into consideration, ,I can quickly make 5 or 6 different teams that I’m basically indifferent between, so I might as well throw it all out and see what sticks.

It’s been working pretty well so far.

Weekly recap:

Monday: Won $45 on $37 of entries ($8 gain)

Tuesday: Won $35 on $40 entries ($5 loss)

Wednesday: Won $8 on $40 of entries ($32 loss)

Thursday: Did not play, preoccupied with NBA draft where the Sixers established the best young core in the NBA #ThankYouSam

Friday: Won $822 on $62 of entries ($760 gain capping a phenomenal two day span for Trusting the Process)

Saturday: Won $92 on $92 of entries (wash)

Sunday: $119 of entries. $99 of them are basically shot already. Playing $20 of entries in the 4:00 slate

Even if I lose on all of my entries today, I’ll come away with a $612 profit this week. As you can see, playing the shotgun style in Arcade Mode isn’t as hit or miss as how I was playing before. I have a lot of days where I can away with a wash or close to it when some of my teams do well and others stink it up. Before when I was making one team and sticking with it, it was all or nothing.

I think Arcade Mode is appealing to people who have no idea what they hell they’re doing and just play for fun, making it a little easier to beat than the traditional style, where it’s completely reliant on stacking the right team or game.

It coulda been a lot more if we would just #KillTheWin already, but it’s nice to finally hit a decent payout.

 

 

 

 

Week of June 18 – Recap

Last Friday, I stumbled upon Arcade Mode, the new format Draftkings came up with. I like it a lot and will definitely be playing it going forward. I’ll get into it later.

Last week’s results:

  • 6/12: $24 of entries, won $36 (net $12 gain), 150.85 points
  • 6/13: 2 different teams (90 and 82 points), $34 of entries, won nothing
  • 6/14: $24 of entries (66.95 points), won nothing
  • 6/15: Didn’t play
  • 6/16:
    • $20 Arcade Mode entry (211.95 points) that won $30 (net $10)
    • $16 Regular entry (103.6 points), won nothing
  • 6/17: Didn’t play
  • 6/18:
    • $24 regular entry, won nothing
    • $33 Arcade Mode entry, won nothing

Down 109 bones on the week. Not great, but I was also swamped at work a couple days and has like 15 minutes to make a couple of these teams when I got home. Not ideal.

I won’t get into too much of exactly what happened, nothing really worth mentioning. Pretty much a continuation of what’s been happening. I’ve yet to nail a day where my stack goes off while the popular ones don’t.

Now on to Arcade Mode, the new format I stumbled upon on Friday.

In Arcade Mode, you take 1 pitcher and 5 hitters regardless of position and you can’t take more than 2 hitters per team. I really like that scoring setup. I’ve emphasized the stack so much and how important it is, but the fact is everyone knows the smart strategy is to stack a team in the regular format at this point. In any given game with around 10,000 entrants, over a hundred total entries will probably have stacked just about every team. I guess I overestimated how much stupid money is out there. Either that or there’s just more smart money.

The one thing the model I created has done a surprisingly good job at is identifying really good, minimum priced plays. Almost everyday I take 2-3 hitters who cost under $3,000 (very cheap), and I’ve gotten incredible production from those spots.

If you take the ability to stack a team out, and just make it purely your best pitcher pick with a couple of your best hitter picks, I think my model has an advantage over a lot of the other stuff out there, going by what I’ve seen on Rotogrinders.

The scoring system for Arcade Mode is a little goofy, but try and follow along. The two most important aspects are still dingers and Ks.

 

Arcade.PNG

 

Right off the bat, the one big difference between this and the old format is that stolen bases are a game changer in Arcade Mode. They’re worth 12.5 points, and if a guy hits a HR and gets a stolen base, that’s an additional +10 bonus. The other thing is that it’s really important that each of the 5 hitters gets at least one hit, because there’s a +5 bonus for getting your first hit, regardless of what it is (you obviously only get this bonus once).

As I’m typing this, I have a team going in Arcade Mode that’s crushing it after Justin Bour hit a grand slam. I thought this thing was primed to pick the right team to stack, but in practice it’s been a lot better at identifying really good individual plays, and Arcade Mode is perfect for that. I’m probably going to playing it more often than not going forward.

TTP everyone. I’ll update again on Sunday.

Week of June 11 – Recap

Pretty meh results so far in the first few games I’ve played since taking a break:

  • 6/7: Five $3 entries (all same team), 150/392, Won nothing
  • 6/8: Five $3 entries (all same team), 245/588, Won nothing
  • 6/9: One $50 entry, 3348/9090, Just out of the money
  • 6/10: I played two different entries in the day slate and one in the night slate
    • Day slate, Two $8 entries (different teams): 867/8823 and 4055/8823, Won $17 (Net $1 gain, whoop-dee-freaking-doo)
    • Night slate, One $40 entry, 3758/5057, won nothing
  • 6/11: Played the 8 game early slate and the 7 game afternoon/night slate is about to start
    • Day slate (still live), not going well and won’t win anything
    • Starting now

As you can see, I got a little ballsy playing the $40-$50 games with payoffs for the winner of $20k and $50k. Despite the fact that it hasn’t gone well this week, I’m still confident that I’m decently good at this and just need everything to break right one time. I’ve played the more expensive games because it’s really gonna bug me if everything finally goes right one day and I only win a couple hundred bucks. That would be nice, but the payoffs for being in the top 10 of the $40-$50 tournaments are all over $1k with the winner getting some serious cash. The goal of this is to try and hit one of those.

The reason that I’m confident that the model I’m using is pretty accurate is that it’s called the best few stacks every day since I’ve started. The problem is the best options have all happened to be really good, popular teams at hitters parks that I’ve faded. All of the chalk teams have gone off basically every day since I started back up a few days ago, and there’s no way I’ll be in the money when that happens. That sounds like I’m saying “this thing is really good at pointing out what’s obvious”, but I’m not. I’m saying it has predictive power, and so far things haven’t shaken out the way I need them to.

Every day I’ve stacked a team that I run out as maybe the 5th or 6th best option, usually a team that’s in the middle of the pack in terms of projected runs by Vegas. A few have worked pretty well so far, but when the chalk teams go off it doesn’t matter.

The $40 game I played last night is a good example of what I think was a really good play that didn’t work out at all. The Yankees were the obvious stack, according to my model and everyone else’s (judging by Rotogrinders). Chris Sale (a lefty), one of the best pitchers in the game this year, was also going up against the Tigers, a decently good offensive team. The Tigers are set up to crush lefties, and in a big time contrarian play, I stacked the Tigers against Sale. Going by the ownership percentages, Sale scared basically everyone off all their hitters, and I was stacking them.

Well the Yankees put up 6 runs in the first inning, Aaron Judge was basically a must-play since he was like 40% owned, and the whole thing was pretty much shot within 10 minutes.

I still like the play and would do it again.

The Yankees have another 14 runs today and cucked me once again. Judge has two more dingers and 44% of people in the pool had him. I liked the Orioles matchup with Chad Green and stacked them, but the Yankees did that thing where they basically just use the bullpen the whole game (they pulled him after 2 innings), so the matchup play was shot.

To recap, I need the following things to happen in order to hit a big payoff one day:

  • My 5 player stack to give me 70+ points, and to have a chance at winning around 100 points
  • My pitchers to give me a solid 40-50 point floor, and preferably more like 50-60
  • My other three batters to at least hold it down (say 30 points between them)
  • The 3-4 most popular stack team have 4ish runs or less without many homers, and there to generally be very few homers around the league

That’s going to take a lot to put all those together one day, but I’m confident I can get one. Maybe I’m an idiot who’s been leaking cash on this thing ever since I had a pretty successful first week, but oh well. I trust the process.

As a wise man once said: “You don’t get to the moon by climbing a tree”

(It was Sam Hinkie, duh)

Update for the afternoon/night slate of games for 6/11:

If it wasn’t for James freakin Paxton I could’ve put up 200+ points and finally notched a really solid payout. I entered five $4 entries (all the same team) in a 1,470 person tournament and I’m 43rd with a couple innings left in RedSox-Tigers. Dodgers stack crushed it, and I got a total of 6 dongs from my 8 hitters.

The Dodgers stack (Cody Bellinger,  Chase “The Man” Utley, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, and Yasiel Puig)  put up 91 points. My other three bats gave me another 51 points. Max Scherzer delivered a solid 30 point start that would have been a few more points if he didn’t give up a couple runs in the 8th to blow the lead.

My 2nd starter, the Mariners’ James Paxton, put up a whopping 0.4 points. The Diamondbacks were a pretty popular stack and they also went off, so that also held me back a bit.

That extra 20-30 points from the 2nd starter was really the only thing missing here. I’m not too beat up, it was a lower stakes tourney, so the payout wouldn’t have been anything crazy. I’m likely going to net $100-$110, winning back most of what I’ve lost in the last few days so that’s nice.

It was an all-time high 172.5 points for me with one of my pitchers putting up a stinker. I’ll take that to break out of the slump.

 

 

I’m Back

Ok so I know I got off to a great start posting on here every day, slowly posted less and less, and then just stopped. I didn’t put up an update post letting everyone know what happened because the handful of people that I know were actually following this thing I just told in person, but this took up a TON of my time for the two weeks that I was doing it, and I had to focus on studying for Level 2 of the CFA exam, which I took last weekend.

I though the studying was going really well so I wasn’t too worried, but then I got my soul owned by a practice test I took in mid-April and realized I had to focus if I wanted to have a shot at passing and not have to re-do the whole thing. They only offer Level 2 once a year and the thought of having to wait a year to do it all over again was pretty awful/motivating. So how’d it go? If any of you actually care, really well. I’ll be pretty shocked if I didn’t pass (it’s pass/fail for those of you who are unaware).

Anyway, back to what’s important in life. I have free time now and the 2017 MLB season has seen record levels of dingers and strikeouts this year. That’s prime time for this strategy to pay off one of these times.

The one thing doing this seriously for two weeks taught me is how much effort you actually have to put into it to make money playing daily fantasy sports. Especially for baseball where they play 10-15 games every single day. A few days I would get caught up with work and miss a lineup change and have to make last second adjustments, but was already basically screwed.

The catcher position is especially hard to play. Catcher is the one position player that routinely gets 1-2 days off per week, and it’s really tough to predict when a manager is gonna sit the starter. It’s also where you can pick up the most value if you’re really paying attention, because there’s a good amount of splits-y backup catchers who aren’t very good in any absolute sense, but hit bad left/righties really well. Get them in a hitters park when most people aren’t paying attention and it’s a golden play that will have low ownership.

It’s also really tough to stay updated on games with good/bad weather. I’d usually check up on all the games in the AM and be cautious taking pitchers in games that look like could get rained out, but then got burnt a few times being too cautious and not re-checking the likelihood that the game gets played. It really does take a lot of effort and time to be good at this.

I’m not ready to get back to it quite yet, because I gotta work out the bugs in terms of incorporating the 2017 numbers in the model, but expect some posts with my teams and how they’re doing in the next few days.