If you are reading this, it probably means that you have heard about all the money being made playing these daily and weekly games over at FanDuel and are looking to get your piece of the pie. Well, I will attempt to take you from novice to pro! I have been playing Fantasy sports since 1995 and didn’t run into the daily games until early 2012. After months of coaxing from a friend, I decided to give it a try and was hooked after one day. But I made a lot of “rookie mistakes” along the way. The goal of this piece is to not only impart on you the tricks that helped me amass more than $500,000 in career winnings, but also highlight the mistakes that I made so that you don’t make the same ones. In the past three years, I have gone from total noob playing $50 on a Sunday to having days where I made more than $30,000 and weeks where I collected close to six figures. I am a nine-time Daily Fantasy championship finalist in NFL, MLB and NBA. I was featured on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" and am a part of a documentary titled “Living the Fantasy” in which the filmmakers followed some of the biggest names in the industry, chronicling our chase for the $1 million first-place prize. My goal with SCOUT Fantasy is to provide the most in-depth content in the entire Daily Fantasy space, and that begins with first understanding how DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) works. Before we go into strategy, I want to first break down the VERY BASICS of how to get started with FanDuel.
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What is FanDuel?
FanDuel is a website that allows you to enter Fantasy Football tournaments ranging from FREE to $5,000 per contest. You will take on other Fantasy Football players from all over the globe in games where you can profit from your expertise. The easiest way to explain it: It’s exactly like your season-long leagues, except you redraft every week, play strangers for instant cash and start fresh the following week. For a very simple, one-minute tutorial of how FanDuel works, click this link before reading on:
Is This Safe?
This is the question I asked my friend a few months before I could be convinced to get involved with FanDuel. I am a skeptic by nature, so I had a few more questions he needed to answer before I put a single dollar in.
Is this legal?
My concern here was that this was just another version of online gambling where you send money off to some distant, foreign land, the people take your money in seconds, and it takes months to cash out because they have to basically launder the money back to you under disguised accounts. I remember winning $20,000 on SportsBook.com, and it took me six months to get my full money, which came in 10 $2,000 checks from some fake company overseas I had never heard of. This worried me because once I realized this, I knew there was the potential for me to get in serious trouble.
THIS IS NOT THAT!!! FANDUEL IS 100 PERCENT LEGAL, and here is the link to prove it: https://www.FanDuel.com/legal. In 2006, when online poker was banned, the government made an exclusion for Fantasy sports, deeming it legal! The only states where the laws are unclear are Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Washington and Montana, so players residing in those states can only participate in free games. This is so legal that at the end of the year, if you make more than $600 profit, you have to fill out a 1099 and file taxes. As much as that may seem like a negative, this made me infinitely more comfortable, because the big problem with the poker industry was that money was unaccounted for and the government wasn’t getting its cut. As long as the government gets its cut, the chances of this industry getting shut down are slim to none (Just ask the cigarette industry).
Where is FanDuel located?
A: Unlike online gambling and poker sites that got a bad name for being located in places like Costa Rica and Antigua, FanDuel is located in the financial capital of the world -- New York City. Not only are they headquartered in NYC, but I have been to their facility numerous times, and they are more than happy to provide players with an opportunity to stop by and check the place out! I once met everyone over at FanDuel and realized they are just regular people like you and me. it really eased my mind.
How long does it take to get paid if I win?
As I shared earlier, payouts were my biggest issue with online gambling sites, simply because it was illegal and the money needed to literally be laundered into the U.S. in small increments to stay off of the U.S. government’s radar! Well, being that FanDuel is legal is the States, the transactions take place almost immediately! I play about $10,000 per week and have withdrawn as much as $24,000 in a day, and the money was in my PayPal account within 12 hours! I believe FanDuel states that transactions will take about up to 48 hours to hit your account, but as someone who has played for two years with a tremendous amount of money and withdraws very frequently, I can tell you firsthand that it usually hits my PayPal account within 12 hours. The quickest I have seen is two hours later! I have NEVER ONCE had a problem getting paid!
How is this any different than gambling?
Fantasy Sports is considered a game of skill, which likens it more to playing the stock market than gambling (see the legal link above where it states that, in 2006, the government agreed and declared it a game of skill, NOT gambling). The only difference between your season-long leagues and DFS is the frequency. Instead of one draft between 10 friends for the whole season, you are doing multiple drafts versus multiple strangers as often as you wish. Bankroll management, savvy game selection and diligent research will give you an edge. and you can make a great deal of money by keeping the odds in your favor. This is not gambling; it is day trading athletes.
How stable are these sites?
This is a question that is a lot easier to answer now than when I started in 2012. Back then, I needed to trust the legal points I made above because these sites were still small and somewhat unknown. Nowadays, you can’t turn on the television without seeing commercials for FanDuel on every channel, especially ESPN, where they literally sponsor “SportsCenter” on occasion! Comcast, the MLB and the NFL have all recently come on board to co-brand with the Daily Fantasy sites and offer content and games. The fact that leagues such as the NFL and MLB have given their stamp of approval gives credence to the thought that this will be around for a long time. FanDuel went from a company that was losing money in 2012 to a company that is paying out more than $400 million in prizes just a few years later! These sites have also managed to raise tens of millions of dollars in funding from very reputable companies that want a piece of the action.
How Do I Register?
Now that I have hopefully eased your nerves about the validity and credibility of FanDuel, you need to get signed up. Before you get started, you will need to register for a FanDuel account. Go to FanDuel.com and fill out your name, e-mail, username and password. Keep in mind that as you play and win more, your username will be what you are known by in the industry, so think of something creative that you would like to be your nickname. Don’t do what I did and just make it the beginning of your e-mail address (TommyG1979).
Now that you are registered and ready to rock, I will explain how to look at the home page and personalize it to what you are looking for as a player. Please reference the RED numbers on the picture below as we proceed.
1. ADD FUNDS
You can deposit funds into your FanDuel account through a variety of different ways, but the two simplest are directly from your credit or debit card, or, my personal favorite, PayPal. The money goes through immediately, and now you can begin playing.
2. PICK A SPORT
You will see that FanDuel offers daily games for six different sports, so in order to simplify the lobby and make it less cluttered, pick the sport you are looking to play and just those games will show up in your lobby.
3. PICK A CONTEST TYPE
There are a variety of different contests available on FanDuel and knowing which ones to attack, especially as a new player, will be the difference between building a bankroll or blowing your wad.
. “Head-to-head” contests involve you playing against one other person. These contests carry a very high probability of success because you only need to beat your opponent to make money rather than beat a field of 100 people or more. “Head-to-head” contests are a great way to build your bankroll.
· “Leagues” are contests in which you play against more than one person. FanDuel has leagues ranging from three people to thousands of people. “Leagues” contain lower probability but higher reward. In the upcoming sections, we will talk about how leagues and tournaments are a great way to hit for big money, but not the optimal way for someone just getting started to attack FanDuel. Each league requires a certain number of participants. If this number is not met by kickoff, everyone’s money is refunded, and the league will not be played. In these contests, normally the top 10-15 percent of people will win exponentially more than their initial investment while the other 85-90 percent will go home with nothing, so you don’t want to play these until you get good.
· “50/50” is the best way to build your bankroll by far. These are contests in which the top 50 percent double their money and the bottom 50 percent go home with nothing. In “50/50s” with just six people, those who finish first, second or third double their money while those who place fourth, fifth or sixth make zero. Similarly, in such contests with 100 people, it doesn’t matter if you are first or 50th, you just need to be better than half of the field. As with “Leagues,” these “50/50” contests these must be FILLED to run.
· “Tournaments” is my favorite tab because everything in this tab is GUARANTEED to run, even if it does not fill. For example, if there is a tournament where the number of entrants is set at 100 but only 90 people enter by kickoff, that means your odds have increased, because FanDuel eats the cost of the other 10 people. This is called “overlay,” and seasoned players hunt for overlay when kickoff approaches, because it increases your percentages of success. In the “Tournaments” tab, there are all kinds of contests, including “50/50s,” “Triple Ups” (where the top third gets paid), “Quadruple Ups,” “Quintuple Ups,” and the biggest, baddest tournaments you can imagine -- like the “Sunday Million,” which is a 130,000-person tournament with a $25 entry fee. First prize? How about $500,000?!
4. ENTRY FEE BAR
You can move this slide bar to display the contests with entry fees that fit your budget. If you are starting with $100 in your account, there is no reason to have the home screen cluttered with $1,000-entry contests. Customize the list to your specifications.
5. START TIMES
This feature allows you to sort contests by when they begin. So, if it’s Thursday, and you want to get in a contest that includes the Thursday night game, you would click on “Today” or “Next available” to see such contests and nothing more.
6. THE CONTEST BAR
This row allows you to sort the contests by a certain attribute. If you want to sort all of the contests by the size of their prize pool, just click on the word “Prizes,” and it will sort them from highest to lowest. You can also examine the number of entries in a certain contest, its maximum size, cost and start time.
7. MULTI-ENTRY AND GUARANTEED TOURNAMENTS
The “M” next to a given contest indicates that you can “multi-enter,” meaning you can put in more than one entry. If you don’t see an orange “M” next to the contest you are looking to play in, then you can only enter a maximum of one team. A blue “G” next to a contest denotes that it is GUARANTEED and will run even if the required number of entrants is not met.
8. ENTRANTS AND PRIZE BREAKDOWN
If you click on a blue hyperlink under “Entries,” you will be able to see all of the people who are in that specific contest. This is meaningless for the new player, but as you get more comfortable and start to realize who the “sharks” are, you may want to avoid contests with too many of the big-name players in it, especially three-to-six-man tournaments. Target ones with more unknowns instead. If you click on a blue hyperlink under “Prizes,” you will see the exact payout structure for that specific contest. This is important because some payout structures are more balanced while others are extremely top-heavy, so you’ll want to get in contests that fit your goals.
9. ENTER GAMES
Now that you have decided which game you would like to play, click “Enter” and start drafting!
Once you click on the tournament you would like to play in, a screen like this will pop up:
You will notice at the top that you are given all of the basic information of the contest you have entered. Anything in blue can be clicked on, and a pop-up window will appear, breaking down the specifics for this contest. The most important thing for you to understand initially are the “Rules & Scoring” highlighted above. Once you click on that, you will see the rules and scoring for NFL contests. Keep in mind that the NFL scoring FanDuel uses remains the SAME for all football contests, so once you figure it out, you don’t need to ever think about it again. The scoring is as follows:
It is pretty standard scoring. One point per 10 rushing or receiving yards; one point per 25 passing yards; six points per every rushing or receiving touchdown; four points for passing touchdowns, etc. The one difference from most leagues you may play in is that this includes a half-point per reception. You will roster one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker, one team defense and no flex. No bonuses or anything else out of the ordinary.
You will notice when you go back to your lineup page that you have a $60,000 salary cap. Every player has a dollar value attached to him, and your goal is to set the best team possible while staying under that $60,000 imaginary cap. You do not have to spend all $60,000, but you cannot go over that number. Once your team is set to your liking, you click “Enter” and the funds will be automatically pulled from your FanDuel account, and you ready to compete. I would advise playing a few free and low-dollar games at first, just to get comfortable before you start really diving in.