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DFS Strategy Tips & Advice: Guide to 50/50 Games

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Jul 1, 2020

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You’ve just started playing in DFS contests, and your head is already swimming just looking at all of the different contests available to you in the draft lobby of your preferred platform. One of the most common types of contests is the 50/50 game, and it’s a popular choice for both beginners and experienced players alike. What can you expect in these types of contests, and how can you use strategy to your advantage? Let’s dive in!

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What are they?

50/50 contests, or simply “50/50s” are a type of Cash Game DFS contest in which the top 50 percent (half) of all entrants receive an equal prize. That prize is almost always two times the entry fee for the contest minus the rake (site’s profit). Commonly, winning entries are awarded double their entry fee minus ten percent (rake). A simple 50/50 contest can be thought of in this way:

  • 5oo entries for the contest to fill to capacity
  • $1 per entry
  • 250 top-scoring entries win $1.80
  • Rake equals $50 (10 percent)

Here, we see that the top half of entrants won double their money ($1 x 2 = $2) minus 10 percent rake ($2 – $0.20). The site collected $50 (10 percent rake of $500 total entry fees), and the bottom 250 entrants won nothing. These contests are most commonly single-entry contests and represent one of the safest ways to win money while playing DFS. As such, beginners should target 50/50 contests as a way to dip their feet in the water of DFS, learn, grow their confidence, and maybe even build banrkroll.

General Strategy

50/50 games reward the same prize for the top half of entrants, regardless of score of final standings within the winning group of entrants. Because there is no incentive to finish in first place (or even finish better than the last winning entry), strategy here takes a fairly safe approach. In these contests, you’ll want to target players who are fairly safe. These players have a high floor and not necessarily a high ceiling, and their performances are reliable and sometimes predictable. In other words, go for the boring guys with low levels of variance from week-to-week. You don’t need to blow the competition out of the water with a boom-or-bust sleeper pick. You simply need to score enough points to beat half of the other entrants.

Chalk is your friend in 50/50s. Chalk plays are guys who will be heavily owned due to good matchup, salary devaluation, increased opportunity, or a combination of these elements. It’s a great idea to go chalk-heavy when building lineups, as you’re not concerned with separation from the pack. If you fail to pick some of the chalkiest options on the slate, you’re at a high risk of finishing in the bottom half of entrants and not making a profit.

Avoiding boom-or-bust players is a necessity in 50/50 contests. You don’t want to select players with no shot of scoring points, as you’ll find yourself in a disadvantageous position. What you want is to select the most players possible within the constraints of your budget who will provide your lineup with a predictable amount of points. Obviously, some of your picks will carry more risk than others, but in 50/50s, it is very easy to mitigate the risks of a bust performance by selecting players carefully

Cash Games vs GPPs

As mentioned above, cash games reward the same prize money for all winning entrants. Cash games comprise 50/50s and Head-to-Heads (H2H). Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) contests, commonly referred to as tournaments, reward prize money to less than half of entrants in a tiered fashion based on score and finish. The top-scoring entry wins the largest share of the total prize pool, second place wins the next most, and so on. In GPPs, you have to absorb risk and go against the grain with some of your lineup choices in order to rise to the top and place high enough to win a share of the prize pool. Contrarian players (the opposite of chalk) and boom-or-bust options can be the key to cashing in these types of contests.

For the successful DFS player, it’s crucial to know the differences in GPPs and cash games. These contest types are wildly different in payout structure, and as a result, the strategy is completely different for each. Understanding the strategy in GPPs can guide the 50/50 player to successfully utilize strategy on the other side of the coin and start winning right away.

Thanks for reading, and best of luck on your DFS journey!

Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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