Article – @TheDFSniper and @suntszu Recap 2017

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I had a ton of help in 2017 from contributors like Sniper and Suntszu and many others. Published below is Shaun’s “Top 10 Things I Learned in 2017” and below that is Joe’s “Creating Alpha in DFS MMA & The 10x Myth!”

Wise words from wise players. Enjoy.

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@theDFSniper’s Top 10 Things I Learned in 2017

We all know the definition of insanity….playing Anthony Hamilton or Garreth McClellan. Alternatively, and probably more importantly, it’s repeating the same actions and expecting a different result. Unless you are the top DFS player in the world, you need to constantly analyze your process and look for ways to improve.

With that in mind, I thought I would share a list of things that I have learned throughout 2017. Hopefully these will be helpful to you as Daily Fantasy MMAcontinues to grow and we all try and improve our game. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter, interacting with you guys (and girls) is one of my favorite things about putting out content like this.

10. Know What the Public is Doing

I’m going to assume, if you’re reading this that you are a notch above the average DFS MMA player. I know, pretty conceded of me, right? But in all seriousness, the majority of entries in most contests is made up of casual players. Based on who or what is popular or hyped up, you can often get a really good sense of what these lineups will look like. That’s right, this was a way to back into the ownership conversation.

I won’t bore you with the basics of that strategy (remember, you’re smart.) But it’s worth emphasizing that these hyped up fighters often exceed our expectations in terms of ownership, giving you even more leverage on the field. The recent ownership of Mike Perry vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio and further back Ronda Rousey vs. Amanda Nunes are prime examples. While you may expect these to be popular plays based on public perception, I still think many of us underestimate it. Personally, it’s something I’ll be keeping a close eye on in 2018.

9. Develop Your Playing Style

I initially was going to title #9 as “Hedge Money is Dead Money” – but that’s just not fair. Mass multi-entering and hedging is a perfectly viable strategy, it’s just not for me. Take a close look at your results from 2017, are you a better cash game player or GPP player? Are single entry games your thing? Three entry max? Triple ups? I could go on, but I’ll stop there.

Understanding where you have success and focusing your attention and volume in that area is how you become a profitable DFS player. It’s a simple concept, but can be hard in practice. I would recommend experiment with a few methods and find what you are most comfortable with – then get better at that strategy. Master it and then expand. It may not be the sexiest thing to be a cash game player, but if that’s how you are profitable – stick to it.

8. There are No “Locks”

Look, we are betting on fist fights. We all know there is a ton of variance in MMAand that’s under ideal conditions. But what if a fighter is under the weather or has personal issues going on in their lives that we couldn’t possibly be aware of? That’s just something we have to deal with. Even a -400 can go out and get starched or subbed on a bad day……looking at you Thiago Santos vs. Eric Spicely.

Claiming anyone is a “100% lock” is hyperbolic at best and absurd at worst. There are plays we have all been extremely confident in and you should absolutely roll with them. But always leave room in your mind for “what ifs” and think about how the fighter your picking “could” lose the fight. Allowing those thoughts into your mind will actually help you get a better read on the fight and lead to better decisions.

7. The Tape Doesn’t Lie

I understand not everyone has the time to watch time, but it helps so damn much. Most people, including myself, usually only remember how a fight finished. Rewatching months or years later gives you an idea of a fighters skill set and weaknesses you probably didn’t remember.

If you don’t have the time to rewatch fights for all of your plays, at least pick out a key one or two fights to analyze. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much better you get at handicapping fights just by watching previous performances.

6. The Qualifier Bankroll Suck

Man, I lost my ass chasing the Rumble in Gotham a couple years ago. I was in a few tiebreakers but couldn’t get my seat…I was so damn excited about DraftKings running an MMA qualifier only event. It was a hard lesson to learn, but those contests are basically like winning the lottery. You need to have close to the nuts to book your seat and if you come up a few points short, you did all that work for double or triple your money – the payout is that top heavy.

I’m not saying don’t’ play them, I still do, but exercise caution. I’ve done better with the Fight to the Finish event but probably still have put too much into those satellites. My advice, play the lower dollar entry satellites with a couple of lineups or try and win a super satellite to the $25 / $50 / $100 contests the following week. Bankroll management. Learn to love it.

5. You Will Have Losing Weeks

It’s the dirty little secret about making picks publically or “touting”. You’re not always going to be right, and that’s okay. But it also applies to the average profitable player. You’re going to lose. Learn from it, maybe write a year-end recap about the lessons you’ve learned. Seriously though, don’t get discouraged there are some weeks that just won’t go your way, maybe someone gets DQd – take a bow Curtis Blaydes – or maybe the chalk hits and you tried to pivot. It happens and while my point is really simple, it’s also very after school special sounding, “Don’t hide from it, learn from it.”

4. Chasing the Televised Slate

The first two fights airing on Fight Pass are over and you are drawing dead. You rostered two fighters who just scored a combined 13 points, what do you do? Well, frequently you can go tilt enter the fuck out of the Televised slate. I’ve done it. Guilty as charged.

But this is a classic example of do as I say and not as I do. And honestly, I’ve thankfully gotten away from this. Before the event even starts, budget how much money you want to put into the televised slate. It’s a fun slate, play it, but set a number within your bankroll management and stick to it. Doing this can keep you from turning a bad night into one that makes you want to drink yourself into a coma.

3. History Doesn’t Always Repeat Itself

Cheap plug, if you listen to myself and Kyle Steele on the LoudMouth MMApodcast, first of all, thank you. And secondly, then you already know I’m about to reference Cowboy Oliveira vs. Tim Means and Kyle is 100% mad about it. Just like MMA Math doesn’t work, neither does assuming a rematch will go exactly the same way as the original. Just because Tim Means had success against Cowboy the first time did not mean it would happen again. This also directly relates to #7 and watching tape because people had forgotten about Cowboy’s early success.

That’s not the only example, but it’s clearly my favorite. There are exceptions to everything, Holloway vs. Aldo did go the same as the first fight. But I would argue that’s the exception rather than the rule. Fighters grow, things change, MMA is full of variance. Don’t get caught in the trap of MMA Math or assuming a rematch will go the same way as the original.

2. Beware The Twitter Echo Chamber

Speaking of things not to get caught up in, enter the Twitter Echo Chamber. You could have a lean on a fight, or even a strong opinion, but if it’s the opposite of the public perception you are about to have an exercise in strength and self-control. II’s fine to be different, and often you’re probably better off that way. It’s a very cliché example but, you know Las Vegas, right? That town wasn’t built on people being right. Twitter can be a great source of information…and sometimes fun…it can also be a shit show.

1. Trust Yourself

My number one lesson of 2017 ties directly into number two but I really can’t stress it enough. We are a community of fight fans and handicappers, but only you are playing with your money. If you are really high on someone and no one else is, including us “experts” – stick to your guns. If you have conviction, stand behind it and roll out your optimal lineup.

I hope that doesn’t sound hypocritical as I “tout’ plays and produce content every week. The breakdowns and content released by your favorite experts are quality information and an incredibly valuable resource. Confused yet? Don’t be. It is a fine line and one I’ll try and clarify a bit.

Speaking for myself, I provide my opinions and rankings based on my own research and thoughts. I do my best to make sure it’s of value but I would never advocate replacing my opinion for your own. The content of any expert should be used as a guide: maybe you are totally lost on a slate, or one fight in particular is giving you fits, or lineup construction is making you want to pull out your hair. Solving these issues is, at least in my opinion, the greatest value of any expert content.
To bring things full circle: you are your own player and should be continually trying to get better. In the end, (queue dramatic end of movie-type music) trust your eyes, trust your gut, and just…..trust yourself.

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Creating Alpha in DFS MMA & The 10x Myth! – written by @suntszu

In trying to take something positive away from an unprecedented drought in DFS, I spent a restless night in pondering where I have been going wrong and how to correct it. Is it process driven? Game Theory? Bankroll Management? Or all of the above?

A few constants that I have noted:

1.) While I have not taken down a major prize in a mass entry GPP, I have, in most weeks, experienced a positive ROI (especially, in the $8 Hook & the $4 Sprawl)

2.) My greatest success in cash games has been primarily attributed to “sniping” lower dollar ($10 & under) H2H’s

3.) My aversion to “stacking” in cash games has cost me dearly

4.) Is DFS a hobby or a business?

In analyzing 1-4, I can immediately conclude the following:

1.) My Game Theory is above average-good, as referenced by the positive ROI in mass entry GPP’s. I rarely max enter mass entry GPP’s, though perhaps this is a strategy that I should be employing

2.) Sniping in cash games is working. To further define “sniping” = looking for no/low badge players in H2H’s (especially, payers that offer multiple games with no player limits imposed). The same strategy has worked well for me in “Mini-Tournaments” (3-10 player games which are not guaranteed by DK AKA must fill)

3.) While my ratio of cash to GPP’s has improved, I am still a GPP oriented player. Furthermore, I often struggle to find suitable cash games to balance the level of GPP’s, which I will typically play. The aforementioned essentially guarantees a losing week absent winning or placing in a GPP. Also, as a conscious or subconscious GPP player, I have a difficult time commencing a card with a loss, commensurate with a stacking strategy. However, for cash games, I have come to realize that a stacking strategy can work on select fights

4.) Like the vast majority of DFS players, I have a day job. However, when I analyze the relative amount of cash outlays, time commitment and given that MMA is not a seasonal sport, I should be treating this as a business (or at the very least a part time job). My discipline and bankroll management are severely lacking

Debunking the “10x Myth”

10x = a multiple of 10 applied to a respective fighters salary. I.E. to RDA has a DK Salary of $8,100. To achieve 10x, he would need to score 81-points

First and foremost, if you are playing cash games, an aggregate score of 10x (500-points) in most weeks, will win you all, if not the majority of your cash games. However, again in most weeks, 10x will not be sufficiently to take down (or highly place) in a mass entry GPP and even low player single entry GPP’s.

Mass Entry GPP Strategy:

In most lineups it will be necessary to have 1-2 underdog plays. Because the math is easier, I am going to use $15,000 as the amount of salary attributable to underdog plays. My strategy is to look for a minimum 10x in aggregate for that portion of the salary attributable to underdogs in a given lineup. For the $35,000 in salary that would be attributed to betting line favorites, I would look for a minimum aggregate score of 12x-13x, which would result in a total score of 570-605 (150 + 420/435), which in most weeks will either highly place or take down outright a GPP. One thing to note, is that while it might appear to be counter intuitive, the low entrant/higher dollar GPP’s are typically won with a lower score, as players tend to share high concentrations of the same fighters.

We own use terms like “earning their salary.” If you start to think in terms of point multiples to salary, it will help you be a better player in the long run.