Packham's Punch - Cash Game Advice

Like many of you I stumbled on daily fantasy sports due to my love of sports and fantasy.  As I began to play I had a lucky week and won several hundred dollars.  It was around NFL week 5 last year in DK’s Milli-maker.  I thought I had found a way to supplement my income.  LOL.  It took me about 3 weeks to blow through all of that trying to win the next big payday.  Slowly, over time, as I researched and read articles and listened to Podcasts, and watched my bankroll shrink… I knew I needed to change my strategy.  I wanted to grow a bankroll make it go away. 

Disclaimer 1:  If you are wanting to become a millionaire playing daily fantasy sports this is probably not the article for you.  However, if you want to play DFS for a long time and steadily grow your bankroll like one would steadily grow a IRA or 401K or even a freaking savings account… maybe I am your guy.

Disclaimer 2.  My strategy only seems to work well with NBA.  I have tried it in MLB and NFL but the variance in those sports just makes hitting the 60% win rate too difficult.

Disclaimer 3:  This is a DK article.  I work full time as a physician assistant at a busy orthopedic surgeon’s office.  I also coach, and referee competitive youth soccer and I’m married with 4 kids and am active in my church.  I probably shouldn’t have time for DFS.  However, I love it.  I research when I’m working out, in the car, on lunch break, or lying in bed, and while I’m taking a dump (who doesn’t? right?).  So, I only have time to research and play 1 site.

So… I’m busy, new, and love to play and hate to lose.  Does this sound like you too?  Natural cash game player, right?!  At this point yes although if you pick some of the right Single-Entry tournaments you can be just as successful there as well and I’ll get into that theory in later articles.

Which brings me to the topic of this first article.  


My personal definition of a cash game is any situation where you have a 30% chance or higher of winning.  (I do throw the occasional quintuple-up if the situation is right however) So basically Head-to-Heads (H2H), 50/50’s, Double-ups, Triple-ups, or multi-players where the pot is split-up in a way to give you a 30% chance or higher of winning back your money plus profit.

How do I know which cash games to play?  

Sometimes you just need to jump in and start playing and gathering a sample size of what you do well at.  However, there are some tricks to improving your odds to win.  For example, if you have time, look back at the past few days contests you’ve played and see if there are players consistently at the top or at the bottom.  This may take a week or two, but you will quickly figure out who is a good player and who is not as good a player.  Start targeting these poorer players in Head to Heads, 3-mans, or other contests.  The more you can avoid the better players and target the weaker players you will improve your odds of winning.

Does the Rake matter in cash games?

Yes, but not by much.  H2H’s, 3-man and 50/50’s will rake 10% while DU’s and TU’s will rake just under 13%.  So, DK is taking more of your winnings in these contests.  However, sometimes the ability to win back a bit more is alluring.  In a future article I will dive into whether it is tougher to win DU’s vs 50/50’s but a quick little hint… usually the cash line is about the same in both types of contests so DU’s may be the better option despite the rake.

Does size matter?

Yes.  But not by too much.  I would warn against playing in a small 10-40 man double up or 50/50 because if there are too many sharks or really good players the cash line will be higher.  I tend to target contests with 50+ players.  

Picking your opponent.

The final piece of picking your contests is picking the right opponent.  Again, we are just trying to improve our odds of winning.  I have been playing every day for the past year, so I’ve figured out which players are consistently at the top of the larger DU’s and 50/50’s.  Do I ever let a H2H go against them?  Nope.  I like to win… remember.  If I played those guys 10 times I would probably beat them multiple times, but I would rather play the guys down towards the bottom and improve my chances of winning.  Along those lines, I do like to play 3-mans, more than TU’s.  I will watch those throughout the day and every occasionally, one will pop up with a newbie or an unknown and I snatch it up.  A chance to win 2.7 time my money with a good chance that one of the 3 players is terrible.  I’ll take it.

Final question… How much do I put in cash each day?

Let’s say I have $20 each day to play with after I’ve allocated my $2 to play chambers that day.  (Chambers doesn’t go into my equation.  It’s just entertainment money to play in the greatest tournament in the land).

So... with my $20, I will put $17-18 into cash and 2-3 into Single Entry GPP or a smaller field tiered contest.  Or if I really like my lineup I may play a little into a Step 1.

With the remaining $17-18 I will play it like this:

  • 30% H2H’s
  • 25% DU’s
  • 25% 50/50’s
  • 10-20% 3-man’s.

10% I like to throw in 28-man $1 quintuple up as well (instead of 3-man) if the entrants are filled with lower level players.  Even though you technically only have an 18% chance of winning if you can cross 5-10 players off that are weaker you’ve just given yourself a 25-30% chance to win 5x your money.  Compare that to the 2-3% chance of 5x in a gpp and I like those odds.  Pick the right contest and you have a good chance of growing that bankroll.

OK everybody.  That is how I pick my daily contests.  It seems like a lot of work however it usually only takes me about 5 for 10 min throughout the day to get in the right contests.

The next article I will write will be on how I pick my lineup(s).

Good luck out there Jurors.

You can follow Chris on twitter @cpackham007