Baseball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Doug Norrie

DFS Bankroll Management - A Healthy Look

Over the years we’ve received a great many questions about bankroll and bankroll management in DFS. I suspect the nuts and bolts of numbers I’m going to offer are already out there in the DFS internet ether. This subject’s been tackled a bunch and in detail.

Here’s the short, somewhat industry standard, look at bankroll management. It’s quick, easy and leaves some wiggle room depending on how risk tolerant you are.

5-8% of total bankroll in play on a given night. Of that 5-8% you should diversify your game type in such a way:

30-50% Double ups (Larger pools, cheaper buy-ins)
30-50% H2Hs (selected somewhat carefully to avoid sharks)
10-15% Multipliers (3x, 4x, etc), 3-mans, 100 per person tournaments etc
5-10% Large Gpps

That’s the easy look at it and what I basically follow on a given night. Personally, I put in less than 5% my dedicated bankroll because that’s just how I operate. Those are the numbers, they leave room for upside and if using a solid projection system, will yield steady, long term growth.

But the truth to bankroll management is a little more complicated than the numbers I spit out above. And forgive me if I get didactic for a moment. There is no tried and true system for managing your bankroll because it’s so case-specific. It’s your bank, it’s your roll. What you choose to do with it is largely dependent on how you view your time and energy playing DFS, how you view money, how comfortable you are in life in general. Are you only interested in winning a big tournament? Then you are going to commit your resources to GPPs. Are you a slow and steady guy like me? Then you might follow more of the strategy outlined above. I suspect you, dear reader fall somewhere in between.

The biggest piece to bankroll management is managing your emotions. This is literally the number one rule and it goes above any macro look at percentage breakdowns. If you have an enormous emotional buy-in for a given slate or even a given player, it’s somewhat likely that you’ve over-committed your bankroll to a very hyper-specific outcome. In layman’s terms: you put too much in for your own health.

This is problematic for a couple of reasons. DFS has its own form of tilt. While harder to tilt off all of your money as it is in say, poker when a bad run could mean you kept chasing and chasing until down to zero, DFS helps manage this in some way because you simply can’t play all of the time. But, one can chase by playing less-than-advantageous slates, hedging to oblivion or making decisions based on carryover emotions from a previous outcome (i.e. I’ll never play so-and-so AGAIN!)

But if you are finding that your emotions swing wildly it could mean you are simply overextended in terms of your bankroll management.

You need to mentally and financially prepare for downswings so that when they happen (and they will happen) you are in a mental state to continue the course. Dedicated buy in structures will help in both cases.

Let me give a personal example. I’ve steadily increased my buy-ins over the years as we’ve had success in DFS. This is a natural outcome. Bankroll got bigger, so did how much I was willing to commit nightly to a slate of games. But there did reach a time when I found myself incredibly angry over things like late scratches or even worse, mid-game injuries (Anthony Davis had a lot to do with this). I lamented my bad luck, complained this only happened to me and cursed the DFS gods for my fate. That is until I realized that to work in this industry and play DFS nightly one had to endure the painful “bad luck” that comes along with it. The sun will rise, the sun will set and Anthony Davis will have a “doubtful to return” tag. The latter we can’t control. These things should even themselves out in the long term. But we can control our emotions and we can do that by not over-extending.

Finding a healthy median for buy-ins can help in a number of ways. One, it helps for better decision-making. For instance, I would find when I had more money going in (or more than I was comfortable with at least) I would tend to hedge because I felt like I needed to have a piece of every narrative or value play. At some point this will have diminishing returns because it all can’t be value. When I learned to trust the process I had an easier time allowing our system to do the work and living with the results.

Two, it honestly just made for a better user experience over the long term. Sure there were still those injuries, late scratches, rain outs, etc. But they mattered a bit less in the short term because I felt comfortable with the risk going in.

I also spent more time reflecting on strategy. What was working? What wasn’t going well? What parts of winning or losing were about process and what maybe just were luck. I didn’t want some sort of confirmation bias to cloud my judgment. To use another poker mantra, I looked at my time as both spent playing and time spent improving. The latter part helped the mental component of some losing streaks because I was confident that over the long term I was getting better. The growing bankroll helped reinforce this, but also a solid process aided in reaffirming that though luck will also come and go, the general strategies and principles I was invoking were sound.

Healthy bankroll management is more about your own health than the health of your money. Sure they are intertwined but understanding yourself is crucial in how you handle your DFS experience writ large.

For now, I’d say have a healthy look at your bankroll. And I don’t just mean the percentages of game buy in. I mean how you view your bankroll and your own state of mind when joining contests.

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4 Visitor Comments

  1. Well said!! Thank you for that. And yes, the Brow bout made me lose it this year too. What I’ve learned is small consistency keeps you sane. I’d rather count small wins nightly than roller coaster between ballin’ and broke. It is a crap feeling when you only played $50 on a night you would usually play $200 and your line up crushed. However, it is more frustrating to be on the other end and lose the $200. Rather than dwell on the, “what ifs,” I can smile with me winnings and go again. Remember, there is always tomorrow! Follow the method above and the bankroll will build. You won’t get rich in a day but you also won’t go broke either.

  2. Really good information! In the last seven days since I implemented Doug’s bankroll mgmt strategy, I’m four for seven with the three days losses just minimal. Here’s hoping it continues….

  3. Hello,
    whats the best way to avoid the so called sharks on head to heads?

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