Daily Fantasy Sports for Poker Players

Daily Fantasy Sports for Poker Players

The thrill of the winning hand. The gut-twisting anticipation that comes along with making a tough call. That turn-on-a-dime excitement is what lured us into poker, and what keeps us coming back for more.

For many, our earliest exposure to similar thrills was watching our favorite sports team as a kid. Now that we’re adults, we need a little something extra to get that same rush from a sporting event we aren’t participating in. And for us poker enthusiasts, having some money on the line does the trick perfectly.

Some have turned to traditional sports betting, picking a winner with an odds-based payout. Others (with a lot of patience) play season-long fantasy sports. Only Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) delivers the kind of in-the-moment thrill you’ll get from poker. Coupled with the fact that DFS currently enjoys the kind of legal status online poker doesn’t, it isn’t hard to see why DFS has positively exploded in popularity.

DFS on the surface is incredibly similar to poker. The clueless sheep outside the game will scoff and tell you it’s nothing but luck. Yes, there is luck involved — enough so that any player with a basic understanding of the fundamentals can go on a run and have a big night. Sound familiar? Just like poker, it’s about the long run, skill development, and continuing to evolve your strategy and outthink your opponents to put yourself in the best position to win.

Ready to take a day off from the Poker IDNPLAY room and spend a Sunday afternoon sweating every game on the NFL slate? If so, here’s what you’re going to love about DFS, and here’s what may be challenging as you shift your paradigm.

DFS Game Selection

Much like poker, game selection is the first thing you need to consider, and will prove vital in determining your wins and losses. Start with the two major sites, FanDuel and DraftKings. Each site has a slightly different scoring method for each major sport. The subtle differences are too complex to delve into here, so visit both sites and review their scoring algorithms for your sport of choice before selecting the one that suits you better.

Next, you get to pick “Cash Games” or “GPP Tournaments”. Cash games are not like the poker cash games you’re used to. In DFS, a cash game is simply a relatively small player pool where the top half or third of the field all wins the same prize. A typical one might feature a pool of 100 players and a $5 buy in, with the top 50 scoring teams each taking home a $10 prize. You heads-up sit-and-go junkies will be right at home here.

For those of you who love big multi-table poker tournaments, you’re going to love GPPs. GPP stands for “Guaranteed Prize Pool”, and these tourneys feature big fields, small buy-ins relative to the top prizes, and an extremely top-heavy payout structure. You can play GPPs with a $3-5 buy in that feature a top prize of $10k, $20k, or even $100k. For a mere $20 entry into a PGA tourney based around one of the year’s 4 majors, you can take home a cool million if your team comes out on top. North of 50,000 teams will be entered in tourneys like these, and since there is typically no limit to the number of times you can enter, top pros are frequently running dozens of different lineups in search of the huge score.

Much like cash game poker vs tournament poker, the basic elements of the game are the same but the strategies are drastically different for each type of tourney. I suggest trying both to see where you win the most, feel the most comfortable, and get the thrill and excitement you crave.

Basic DFS Strategy

Similar to poker, DFS is all about the preparation. Studying detailed statistics, trends, and knowing each player in your sport is essential to winning. Compare it to the way a good poker player will know opening hand ranges and be able to calculate outs, pot odds, and ICM on the fly.

Also like poker, you have to be willing to accept that a certain amount of it is out of your control. Just like your pocket aces are going to get cracked by low suited connectors a certain percentage of the time, sometimes you’re going to start Tom Brady against the worst pass defense in the league and he’s going to have a bad day (or worse, leave with an injury.) You will lose sometimes. Nothing new there. You still made the right play and it was still a good play, it just didn’t work out.

Not being results oriented and being confident enough to make the same correct play again next time might be the biggest similarity between DFS and poker, and maybe the most important skill required to be a winning player at either one.

Getting a research routine down is the most basic thing you can do to get started with DFS. With football, you’ve got all week to pore over statistics and prepare for Sunday. With MLB, you’ve got less than 24 hours after the last west coast game ends, and you have to be ready to make a flurry of changes when the starting lineups are released with only a few hours until first pitch. Learn the timeline of your sport and figure out how to fit analyzing each team and player’s spot into your work/life schedule. Knowing a lot about your sport will help minimize your research time, but no matter how much you know, some detailed analysis of stats will help.

Your goal obviously is to score the most points, but with a limited budget to spend building your team you also have to maximize points per dollar, and with everyone pulling players from the same pool, you’re looking to score points in places your opponents aren’t thinking of. The magic formula for taking down those big GPP scores is having the “chalk plays” (the most obvious and popular player choices) not pan out while the underrated gems that you discovered via in-depth research come through and rack up big points for you.

You’re Either First or Last

This might be the single biggest difference for me between DFS and poker. In a poker tournament, you’re watching the money bubble. Once you make it into the money, you watch the pay-jump ladder. You weigh the value of winning the tourney vs. the value of moving up another few places. When you’re playing in a tourney with a huge field, the difference between 100th place and 63rd place might be a dozen buy-ins or more. By making it to 63rd every time and never busting without cashing, you’ll likely be more profitable than making the final table once.

You’re Always All In Pre-Flop

It’s hard to argue the fact that when you’re playing poker you have ultimate control over every decision, while when you’re playing DFS the players on the field determine the outcome and all you can do is watch. To get over that lack of control, think of each DFS tourney as a poker hand where I go all in pre-flop. Doing your research, analyzing the games and spots, and building a lineup is like sitting at a table waiting for that perfect spot to shove it in your aggressive opponent’s face. Clicking the “Submit Lineup” button is like pulling the trigger and pushing all your chips over the line knowing he’s going to call it off.

You know you picked the right hand to shove, and you know you’re in a good spot. You’re confident that you’ve made the right play. Now it’s time to sweat the run-out and see if you’re going to come out on top. A Sunday NFL slate takes a whole lot longer than a 5-card run-out, but the sweat can be every bit as exhilarating.


If you’re looking for another outlet for excitement in your life that doesn’t pit you against the house, you may find what you’re looking for with DFS. Getting started is easy, and when you apply the same concepts you apply to poker like solid bankroll management, educated game selection, quality research and game theory knowledge, you’ll already be far ahead of the masses and in a position to win some serious money while you get more enjoyment out of a sport you already love.

Poker Excellence, Habits, And Consistency

Poker Excellence, Habits, And Consistency

I’ve seen this quote in Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, Instagram pics, NBA commercials, and almost every self-help book I’ve ever read. Yet somehow it still rings true every time I read it. We are what we repeatedly do. That leads to my question. What do you repeatedly do? By that I mean are you at least doing the simple things correctly? I see so many of my students committing unforced errors that, sometimes, I feel like they need a life coach more than a poker coach. You have to do the simple things right. Here is the first question you should ask yourself every morning:

Did I get enough sleep?

There are so many studies that say that adults need at least eight hours of sleep for optimal performance. I think this is especially important when you’re trying to learn the extremely complicated and frustrating game we call poker. You may be fine the first day, week, or month you go without eight hours of sleep but at some point that “sleep pressure” will catch up with you and cause chronic fatigue. I see so many people trying to play 30+ hour sessions on the weekends.

I also see a lot of people trying to play 16 hour sessions, sleep three hours, and come back for another session. How is that productive? Sure, if they’re good they out-earn me in the short-term but there is certainly no way they can maintain that level of intensity. You have to have stability and you have to do the simple things right if you want to last as a poker player. Here’s another thing you should ask yourself:

Did I have the right breakfast?

I’ve experimented with several diets designed to stabilize my energy and concentration levels throughout the day. The one that has by far been the most impactful on my performance is called the “Slow-Carb Diet.” Tim Ferriss, the author of the Four Hour Work Week, The Four Hour Body, and The Four Hour Chef is a huge proponent of this diet. He has tracked the results of thousands of people on this diet and the results are pretty astonishing. You can read more about it at his blog fourhourworkweek.com.

The biggest component of this diet is starting off your day with 30mg of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. I accomplish this by going over to Starbucks and getting a $5 Protein Bistro Box. It includes one cage-free hard boiled egg, some white cheddar cheese, honey peanut butter spread, multigrain muesli bread, apples, and grapes. It’s cheap, quick, and perfect for stabilizing my energy levels at the poker table. You can read more about it here.

After you’re done with that make sure you ask yourself the biggest question of all:

Am I studying enough?

I study poker at least two hours a day. Two hours of poker study per day times 365 days per year equals 730 hours of poker study per year. I’ve been playing poker professionally for four years. 730 hours times four years equals 2,920 hours of poker study. Think about that for a second. People ask me how I’m breaking $60/hour in 2/5NL and $110 in 5/10NL over the last 2,000 hours of live play. It might have something to do with me studying poker more hours a year than most amateurs play per year.

2 hours of study/day * 365 days/year = 730 study hours/year

2,920 hours is a conservative estimate of how many hours I’ve spent studying poker. That’s more hours than most people have played live IDN Poker in their lifetimes. Now obviously I realize that you all have families, jobs, and lives outside of poker. But I also want you to realize the level of commitment and consistency that it takes to be an excellent poker player. If it was easy everyone would do it. If you want a win rate like that you have to work for it. You’ve shown a level of commitment by reading this article. Now take that a step further and add some consistency to your poker.

To recap, consistency is far more important than short-term results and achievements. Anyone can have a big day playing cash. Anyone can bink a tournament. Very few people can show up everyday and maintain that level of performance. Consequently, very few people can truly play poker professionally. Many try and many fail because they can’t even do the simple things right. Sleep eight hours a night. Consider the long-term implications of your diet. Actively study to improve your game. Anyone could do those three things on the first attempt with no training. Very few people can do that everyday. Very few people are truly successful at poker. Very few people are excellent. Excellence is not an act. It’s a habit.

The Top 12 Poker-Friendly Careers

The Top 12 Poker-Friendly Careers

Even though massive heaps of luck are involved in poker, the most skilled players consistently come out on top. One way to develop those winning poker skills is to dedicate your life to the game, grinding out entire days and nights in the casino or online. But it is only one way. Many people develop and maintain winning poker skills at their day job.

Of course, it’s only through playing poker that can players develop the specific tricks and techniques to beat their opponents, but many careers give them a huge head start. That’s why we see the same professions popping up again and again in poker. If you have one of these jobs but you haven’t gotten into poker, maybe it’s time that you did. If you already work in one of these industries, perhaps this article will jog your memory as to skills you can develop in tandem, on the job and at the table. And if you’re a good player that’s struggling to make it in poker alone, you might want to take a look at these industries to see if there’s value in there for you to grab.

Here are the top 12 careers we see most frequently in winning poker players that aren’t exclusively grinders or “professional poker players”

1. Entrepreneur

We previously explored the link between entrepreneurship and poker in depth. “Entrepreneur” is such a broad category, it includes anyone who has started their own business.

One might say a dedicated, winning poker player is an entrepreneur, in the sense that they took a big risk for a chance to succeed in a lifelong dream, or strike it rich, or both. Poker players and entrepreneurs use their brains to win, and their heart to stay in the game. The similarities truly outnumber the differences.

The list of entrepreneurs in poker is too long to mention, and includes everyone from mutli-millionaires like Bill Klein down to solo entrepreneurs who are hustling their bankroll with whatever skills they have.

At the upper levels of poker, it’s hard for players to not become entrepreneurs. There is so much low-risk value to be scooped selling products and services around one’s poker knowledge not to go for it. It’s an easy sell to the consumer because investing in poker strategy usually returns the investment quickly and many times over. Nearly every top-notch poker player (our coaches included) are pursuing other revenue streams to offset variance and pad their bankrolls.

The entrepreneurial spirit is built into poker, and vice versa.

2. Engineer

We’ve got our own engineer Doug Hull, author of Poker Plays You Can Use and Poker Work Book for Math Geeks. Well, he was a professional engineer until he quit his day job and moved to Vegas to grind a profit, coach players, and write poker books for a living. You can now call him an engineer of poker.

He’s certainly not the only one. The command of math, the ingenuity and inventiveness, the analytical mindset… they are all huge assets when it comes to poker. And poker players make great engineers, because they are always testing new hypotheses, drawing insights from advanced analysis of the results, studying the work of others and applying proven techniques to consistently achieve the desired results.

3. Financial Industry

Folks who work in the financial industry could be said to be playing in the highest-stakes poker game on the planet. Sure, it’s not actually poker, but especially in today’s derivatives-laden market, huge risks are being taken with the world’s wealth, and unfathomable sums are won and lost every day.

It’s obvious what makes financial analysts, investors, hedge fund managers, etc. so good at poker. They are used to taking risks, viewing losses and wins in a long-term context, and making informed, level-headed decisions with incomplete information. Daftar Poker IDNPLAY skills are in their blood.

4. Coder

Programmers, computer scientists, coders… call them what you will, their profession gives them have a huge edge at the table. One of the first programs many coders write when they’re starting out is a poker simulation — it teaches fundamental programming concepts while maintaining some semblance of fun and functionality.

Coders tend to learn poker and get better faster than folks from other professions because they are used to plugging leaks. A huge part of programming is debugging systems, and the rush from solving a particularly vexing problem. Though there is no luck in programming per se, systems are always encountering new errors, so coders are usually good at rolling with poker variance and learning from their mistakes.

The other great advantage can be seen in the tools we use to analyze strategies to determine optimal game decisions. These tools were programmed by coders! No other profession has arguably made such an indelible mark on serious poker players than the folks who produced HUDs, range analyzers, play tracking software and the other programs we use on a daily basis. That kind of inside knowledge as to how the inner workings of software ticks is pure gold at the table.

5. Accountant/Bookkeeper

“Having fun while crunching numbers” is a fairly accurate description of a poker player. The best accountants and bookkeepers are not just great mathematicians and data analyzers, they’re also masters of systems. Detail matters in accounting, and there are hundreds of small but significant factors that can cause tiny errors in data that cascade into enormous problems. These professionals are used to such high stakes for accuracy, that in poker they are some of the best at avoiding mistakes.

6. Lawyer

We see a lot of lawyers in poker, though they might not advertise that fact given the social stigma that can be attached. No career is perhaps better suited to the mind game of poker than lawyers, who are paid to get inside people’s heads, anticipate their decisions in advance, and persuade them down an often different path that achieves the desired result.

Lawyers are great talkers at the table, but even when their mouths are shut, their minds are racing down multiple decision trees. Used to courtroom pressure, they are cool and calculated. They are great at adapting their strategy to counter yours on the fly — it’s what courtroom prosecution and defense is all about.

7. Politician

Poker and politics have a long history. At one time, poker playing was glorified as an activity that demonstrated great political leadership, resilience under pressure, the ability to negotiate and make good decisions with lots at stake. At some point, poker got a reputation as reckless gambling, a place where shady back-room deals can happen, and it has since fallen out of favor for politicians to publicize one’s poker prowess.

It’s easy to see why politicians make great poker players. They are masters in the art of the read. If you’ve ever shaken hands with a top politician, you know they can tell you exactly what you want to hear before you even open your mouth. They are masters at getting you to think their idea is your idea. They can read physical expressions to intuit your mindset. They are master communicators. Their style of poker is probably much less mathematical than most careers on this list, but they make up for it in social engineering genius.

Though it may have fallen out of vogue, there are still municipalities where poker is so popular within the government and constituency, an elected representative can curry a lot of favor from important community members just by showing up at the table.

And, of course, politics is often all-or-nothing — you are elected, or you lose everything. The risks couldn’t be higher, so these players can be more savvy and cutthroat than most, yet incredible at hiding their cunning.

8. Marketing

As the marketing industry grows, we are also seeing many more marketing professionals in poker. When these folks aren’t too busy responding to clients around the clock, they can be a serious threat at the poker table. Many marketers are jacks-of-all-trades, and incorporate a little bit of everything from this list. Analytical mindset? Check. Social engineering? Check. Boundless creativity and the ability to simplify complexity to make the right decision under pressure? This might be their biggest asset.

Adaptability is another hallmark of marketing. Few industries transform as rapidly as marketing, and marketers know a huge part of their job is learning to leverage new techniques and technologies, almost on a daily basis. They are also used to their actions having a dramatic impact on the bottom line.

9. Psychologist

Our own Dr. Tricia Cardner is the resident poker psychologist, and we think she’s one of the best. And not just at the psychology part — she has real poker skills that have earned her some nice stacks.

There have been many books and videos made about poker psychology. We have called the mental game in poker “The Last Edge”. It’s incredible to us how many poker players continue to ignore the mental aspect, to their bankroll’s detriment.

In a game where most people are making very few mistakes, psychologists have a huge edge in understanding the reasons behind people’s decisions. Their sense of your thinking is often better than yours! Players who come from psychology backgrounds may not be the fierce number-crunchers of their opponents, but they more than make up for that by anticipating next moves better than most.

A therapy or coaching session is much like a poker game, a chess-like mental activity where the psychologist is always thinking a few steps ahead. At the same time, new but incomplete information is constantly streaming into their brains for analysis. Psychologists have the perfect mindset for poker, and all poker players stand to learn a lot from incorporating their strengths into their own games.

10. Athlete

There are many athletes in poker. Poker players are drawn to the competition, to the conditioning, to the discipline. Many poker players, while not professional athletes, nonetheless pursue the gym or some other athletic activity with great passion.

Of course, it’s the professional athletes in poker that get all the attention, particularly at the WSOP. From Michael Phelps to Paul Pierce, the list is long. We’re sure stamina, endurance, self-determination, mental fortitude and resilience to adversity are the hallmark traits that make them tough opponents.

11. Actors/Actresses

Athletes are second only to actors and actresses when in comes to the celebrity factor in poker. And why not? After all, poker is acting!

The stars of film, TV and the web are keenly geared for poker beacuse they bluff for a living. They are going to often have deficiencies in the mathematical aspect, but that’s offset by enormous control over their mental game, and the ability to manipulate others into thinking what they want them to think.

Again, the list of actors and actresses in poker is long and star-studded, and includes A-listers like Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck. The ones that truly succeed understand poker as a game inside and out, and know exactly how to exploit the fact that their opponents are (a) a little starstruck and (b) think they’re acting all the time.

12. Poker Dealers

This one is almost too obvious to write about, but not including it would be absurd. Sure, some poker dealers stay away from the game, in much the same way a short order cook might not want to make their own dinner after a 12-hour shift. But more often than not, your dealer is picking up on the game during their whole shift. What else is there to do?