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Daily Fantasy Baseball: What Contest Types are Right for You?

May 4, 2020

The sheer number of available contests for a single slate can be overwhelming for daily fantasy baseball players. However, the large number of options can be encouraging and ultimately serve to benefit those partaking in DFS. With a little research, you can find contests that best fit what you want to accomplish.

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Types of Contests

In the most basic terms, there are two different contest types in daily fantasy baseball.

Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPPs)

Also referred to as “tournaments,” GPPs are big money contests that typically have many entrants. These large contests often allow multiple entries from users, which is a benefit for veterans of daily fantasy and those who utilize lineup optimizers, like the one we have here. For those just starting out in daily fantasy baseball, GPPs are likely not what you are looking for, as you will probably just want to submit a limited number of lineups. In addition, GPPs see most of the prize pool awarded to the top finishers, which can be tough to achieve when first starting out.

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Cash Games

Unlike the complex payout structure of GPPs, cash game contests award the same payout to all winners. Within cash games, you’ll most often see multipliers, 50/50s, or H2H contests. In a multiplier contest, winners will receive double, triple, or up to ten times their entry amount. To win a multiplier, you must finish within the top 50% for double-up or the top 33% for triple-up contests.

A 50/50 contest is exactly how it sounds. The contest can range from a small pool of entrants to a larger number of entrants, but in any case, the top 50% of the contest will get paid out. Finally, there are H2H contests in which you only compete against one other lineup in a heads-up matchup.

Cash games are the preferred method for most beginning players, as your limited number of lineup entries can more easily stack up against the competition. The equal pay structure and the limit on the number of entries per user make the contests more appealing to those just trying to get their toes wet in daily fantasy baseball. While the format is appealing to beginners, veteran players could also have plenty of reasons to play cash games as well.

Assessing Your Goals and Play Style

While there are only two basic categories, there are plenty of contest types to appeal to every style of DFS player. On the surface, it’s easy to say that those looking to win big should play GPPs and those wanting to double up can enter cash games. While this is a good rule of thumb, there is no reason that you can’t play in both categories and adjust your strategy accordingly.

When playing in H2Hs or 50/50s, you should field a relatively safe lineup. There’s nothing wrong with having a sleeper or two in your lineup. After all, you have to find ways to save your salary. However, when your only goal is to finish in the top half of the contest, you must have players that can be reasonably expected to put up a good score.

In a cash game contest with 100 entrants, first place pays the same as 40th place. Because of this, there is no incentive to shoot for the stars in a cash contest. Instead, you should pick players with high floors while identifying others that could bust or are not worth their lofty salary.

If you’re eyeing tons of under-the-radar players and you just HAVE to play the fresh call-up from AAA in your DFS lineup, then you may want to look at GPPs. Tournaments feature high payouts to top finishers, but they generally pay a smaller percentage of the total entrants. In addition, a “minimum cash” in a GPP, or the lowest payout of the contest, is often only a small increase of your initial investment.

When constructing a GPP lineup, you want to choose players who are not likely to be high-owned. You will often hear analysts in the industry reference “projected ownership”. If your goal in a GPP is to finish above the vast majority of entrants in the contest, then you need to find players that make your lineup stand out. A player scoring 40 points on the slate does not do any good for separation if he was 80% owned (as an extreme example).

When playing in GPPs, it’s also important to find the maximum entry limit for the contest. If you’re not going to use the maximum number of entries, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. I am not saying to blindly max out your entries in these contests. Rather, I am stating that you should find a contest that limits the number of entries per player or only permits one lineup per account. If you are going to enter multiple lineups in a single contest, it’s a good idea to utilize our DFS lineup optimizer.

The Poker Analogy

For those familiar with the landscape of poker, you will notice that much of the terminology used to describe DFS is also used in poker. While Texas Hold ‘Em is a type of poker that abides by the same rules no matter where it’s played, it has two major categories: tournaments and cash games.

You may be surprised to learn that the strategy in poker tournaments is drastically different from the play style in cash games. Poker tournaments are fast-paced, and players are forced to take many risks if they want to be successful. In addition, players in poker tournaments do not set a goal of simply being “in the money.” Rather, players seek to go as deep into the tournament as possible. Players will take risks early in the tournament that could cost them their seat but would put them in a better position to go deep and maybe even win it all. Playing passively in a tournament and only trying to reach the money is a losing strategy.

This is why the DFS and poker analogy works so well. When playing in GPPs, you must be aggressive. You can’t be afraid to take risks. Could that player you just entered in your lineup strike out 3 times? You bet. However, that player may also hit multiple home runs, and that performance could shoot your lineup to the top of the leaderboard.

On the other hand, you could simply play tight, make smart decisions, and play the percentages with the goal of doubling your money in a cash game. Poker players take far fewer risks in cash games, and you should do the same as a DFS cash games player. You can look to avoid risks and find high-floor players in hopes of being in the top 50% of the money. After all, all winners of a cash games contest receive the same payout.

Final Thoughts

Do not be afraid to participate in multiple types of daily fantasy baseball contests. They all offer their own benefits, and it’s just important to know what strategies will give you the best chance of being successful. At the end of the day, they are all types of fantasy baseball, and you just need to make small adjustments to put yourself in a position to win.

Best of luck as you dive into the world of daily fantasy baseball. Be sure to check out other general advice articles for DFS baseball and also be on the lookout for lineup advice articles for particular slates.

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Shane Bryant is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Shane, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @ShaneBryant31.


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