Daily Fantasy Sports games are a somewhat new phenomenon, but they have been taking the world—especially the United States—by storm. DFS sites have been targeting the US specifically due, in part, to the fact that it is an entirely, 100% legal form of gambling. Since the mid-2000’s, online gambling of all types have been the center of a lot of controversy due to the ongoing interpretation of what is and what is not legal.
Daily Fantasy Sports sit in a unique position of not, technically, being considered gambling and that is the core of why they are not coming under legal scrutiny. With that being said, there are a few US states that have actually restricted DFS, fearing legal ramifications from the federal government if the interpretation of the Safe Port Act or the Wire Act was ever re-interpreted essentially classify DFS as an illegal online gambling activity.
The great thing about DFS is that it allows people to capitalize on the knowledge they have of their favorites sports and players. In the US and around the world, fantasy sports are played by tens of millions of people on an annual basis. Thanks to this familiarity, the transition from traditional fantasy sports—which have leagues that stretch over the course of a season—to DFS is not much of a jump at all. Add to that the allure of making money day in and day out, and it is pretty easy to comprehend why this style of gambling has become so popular.
How DFS Works
Picking a Team
If you are familiar with traditional fantasy sports, the fact of the matter is that you will have no trouble learning how to play Daily Fantasy Sports. Even if you have never played the traditional version of the game, the reality of the matter is that the learning curve is not very steep.
DFS works by allowing you to create your very own (fantasy) team from a pool of players. If you are playing fantasy basketball, you will be selecting from the rosters of NBA teams. Roster slots are capped depending upon what sport you are playing, and players are ranked by perceived skill. These sites use those rankings to determine what you have to “pay” for the player in question. In other words, a fantasy NBA team will be smaller than a fantasy NFL team, and a James Harden-type player is going to cost you more than a TJ McConnell-type player.
We say “pay” because you really aren’t coughing up money to pick certain players. Once you have entered the competition, you will be given a hypothetical sum of money with which you will purchase the components of your team. This is where some strategy comes into play, because if you buy two high-profile players right off the bat, your money may run thin as you venture further down your roster.
Once your team has been strategically picked, you will then face off against other competitors. How many competitors depends upon the type of competition you have entered, and we will discuss more about that later.
When it comes to the scoring of your team, this is also something that differs depending upon the sport you choose to play. Despite this, the way you are scored is quite simple and fairly consistent across sites and sports.
When a player on your team does well, he or she accrues points; it really is that simple. So, for example, if you are playing basketball, the more stats (rebounds, assists, and points) recorded the higher that player’s individual points tally will be. For football, things like receiving yards, rushing yards, and touchdowns will see a player earn more points. Naturally, the more points your fantasy team’s individual players earn, the more your team will earn, and the closer you will be to walking away dollars richer.
It is difficult to speak specifically about the point tallying, because it tends to vary between sites. So while a touchdown may be worth 6 points at one site, it could be worth 10 on another. For this reason, it is important to learn everything about the scoring system on the site at which you choose to play.
Types of Competitions
A specific site may have a host of different types of competitions, but really they can all be boiled down in the same way as poker games—cash games and tournaments. Under these categories, we will elaborate upon different game types.
It is our opinion that cash games are the most popular type of DFS game out there. As far as cash games are concerned, you can play them in two different ways. The first is a “head to head” matchup. As the name suggests, a head to head matchup sees you pitted against one other player. The team that has the most points at the conclusion of the day will walk away the winner and also come away with all the cash.
“50/50’s” are another type of cash game. 50/50’s are competitions featuring a wider number of players where 50% walk away winners and the other half do not. The size of the competition varies, but this basic rule remains the same. You can have competitions as small as 10 players to ones with hundreds and hundreds of players. It is also one of the most popular to play because of the simplicity of it and the instant payouts you receive upon winning.
Tournaments are a lot like the aforementioned 50/50’s in that they feature a large number of players, but instead of seeing half the field awarded, they typically only award a very few number of top players. Other than that, there really aren’t any differences as the concept of DFS is fairly consistent regardless of sport or competition type.
Whether we are talking cash games or tournaments, there are buy-ins for all of these competitions. As you might expect, the amount of money you pay to enter a competition typically corresponds directly with how much money you stand to walk away with if you win. This is especially true with regard to tournaments, but it is generally true across the board.
DraftKings and FanDuel feature tournaments all the time where the winners will routinely walk away with $100,000 all the way up to $1,000,000! They are high-risk, high-reward ventures, with many of these tournaments costing a couple hundred to even $1,000+ as far as entry fees go. But to be able to possibly win a million bucks is a pretty nice motivational factor, am I right?
Difference Between Traditional Fantasy Sports
Now that you know just about everything there is to know about Daily Fantasy Sports, we feel it necessary to drive home two points with regard to the difference between DFS and traditional fantasy sports.
First and foremost, Daily Fantasy Sports live up to their name. Competitions rarely stretch more than a single day. If you have played traditional fantasy sports your whole life, getting out of the season-long strategic mindset may be difficult to do. You need to understand that there is a very tangible difference. To that end, it may be difficult to get out of this mindset due to the fact that DFS games look and feel exactly like traditional fantasy sports competitions. Whether it be the score, the type of competition, or anything else, the constant familiarity and similarities may end up confusing you and leading you into making mistakes.