Which players are good Cash Game Plays for the Slate?




This is a weekly article to discuss my thoughts regarding playing cash games.  Cash games are generally considered to be Head to Head, Double Ups, 50/50’s, Triple-ups, as well as small multi-player (3-10) games where your chances of cashing are 33% or higher.  In previous articles we have discussed how to chose your cash game contest as well as how to build that lineup each night.  This week’s article will address the numbers behind why we pick the players that we do.  It will also address the numbers behind how much to play each night and how to allocate our bankroll per night.


So we have just completed our 3rd week of the young season.  I hope you are all doing well and keeping your bankroll’s prospective head above water.  As a player who play’s with a Benjamin-sized bankroll… I play about 2 Hamilton’s or 1 Jackson a night…AND…my biggest goal is to keep my bankroll in the triple digits and climbing.  So how do we do that and try to sustain a steady and growing bankroll?  Discipline!


A number of years ago, there was a study called “The Stanford marshmallow experiment.”  It was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University.  In it, a child was placed in a room with a Marshmallow on the table and left alone with the marshmallow for 10 minutes.  The child was told that if they could wait the 15 minutes without eating it they could get more marshmallows before going home but if they ate the marshmallow that is all they got before going home.  When they followed up with these kids 2 decades later they found that those that were able to wait ended up having better SAT scores and were rated BY THEIR PARENTS as being more competent then those that just ate the marshmallows right away.


The reason I give this story is DFS and bankroll management can be the same.  Delayed gratification is a skill that some may be born with but ultimately if you are to survive you must manage your bankroll and not fall for the alluring tournaments that DK and FD are offering with hundred’s of thousands of dollars in prize money.  You are much more likely to play longer and have better rewards if you take the slow and steady approach and not just eat the marshmallow (play all gpps).


Have a “Points” Target


I build one cash lineup on most nights (on larger slates I may throw 3-5 lineups in gpps).  My goal is to build a lineup that should reach 275+ DK points.  Why that number?  I’ve tracked cash-lines for a while and 265-270 is consistently the number to hit for cash.  On larger slates that will go up and for smaller that will go down but I still aim for that number. 




When you are configuring a lineup for cash, there are some consistent numbers that you just need to look at.  When I open up the player’s log the first thing I’m looking for is Consistency with a High floor.  What does that mean? 


Let’s look at a Point Guard who is a classic Cash Game Player.. Goran Dragic.

Points:  35,34,32,29,33,33,37,43,28. (Avg 33.6 with a range of 15)

Minutes: 31,332,33,37,36,39,34,34,32. (Avg 34.4)

Salary Range: 6.3-7.1 (Avg 6.8)

Avg pt/$: 4.94


Now let’s look at a GPP-type Point guard at least for this year… Kyrie Irving.

Points:  20,48,39,45,42,44,35,37,32,51. (Avg 39.1 with a range of 31!)

Minutes: Range from 28-39 (Avg 33.1)

Pt/$: 4.62


You can feel pretty safe that Goran is going to get you to that 5 points per $1000 spent (5X) threshold he’s probably not going to blow past it and he’s probably not going to put up a dud.  But, most likely he will not hit 5.5x either.  However, when Kyrie has a Plus matchup, and it won’t be a blowout, and the price is right, he will put up some serious points as well.  So, I won’t cross Kyrie off my cash list if the circumstances are right. On the right night Kyrie is a perfect cash play if you think he should get 5.5+ times his salary. 


So I will put both in my pool and as I roster construct I will consider the upside versus consistency of each player.  However, if I build a roster full of Dragic-type players I will score about 250 points.  Will that cash.  Nope… at least not consistently.  I need a few 6x pieces in there that are pretty safe for it.


I will continue this process as I go through each player.  On DK, as opposed to FD, I don’t look at position as much as price groups.


How I group my pool of players on DK?


Group I:  Salary 9K+.  Studs.  There are usually a handful of these players per night and some nights I will play one.  Sometimes I fade.  If there is sufficient value I will try to sneak in two.  It is rare that these players will blow way past 5x but they give you a solid core of points that you will need to reach 275+.  Occasionally, one will go 8-9X (Harden/LBJ/Boogie) and hit 80-95 points.  But, in general, they get 50-65 points.  Unfortunately, if you don’t have the player that goes off you won’t win that night.  So always be aware.  I did not think Harden would hit his number vs Utah on 11/5 so I didn’t win that night even though all my other plays were good.


Group II:  7K-9K.  These are steady top players and I look for a few that can give me 7-8X their salary from this spot.  Again, you really need these guys to hit 6X.  A 7K guy that gets in the 40’s is key to hitting your cash line.  Beal or Booker right?  Generally the answer is… either.  


Group III:  5500-7K.  This is your key group.  You need 2-3 of these guys in your lineup for sure.  If there isn’t a great Group I Stud play, I will substitute 2 of these players instead.  These players must have a high floor with the potential to go ham.  Look for mispricings in this range.  Also, Players going up/down that the salary hasn’t adjusted yet.  THJ is in this range and has been making me money lately.  But Collison is also in this range and has been losing me money lately.  Be careful of inconsistency with these players.  Cash plays are never good when they have high variance.


Group IV:  4500-5500.  The Meat.  These are usually your steady players or players coming up or coming down.  Also need at least 2 of these players.  Look for minutes.  These plays are really affected by injury/opportunity/playing time/ matchup.  There are some great cash plays in this range like Joe Ingles of Utah who is a cheaper version of Dragic.  This is where the meat of your lineup will be filled.  I’m fine if all these guys hit right at 5x.  But if a person is trending toward 6x and the sites haven’t adjusted yet (Kyle Kuzma last week anyone?) jump on it!!!


Group V:  Value plays.  Pay close attention in the hours before lock.  If you can pick up a Mitchell, Chalmers, Jack, Mack, Clarkson, etc… because of a late scratch propelling this player into the starting lineup it’s a must.  The increase in minutes will make hitting value super easy but that’s not the most important point.  It will allow you to fit a 2nd stud or an additional Group II player with secured higher points and your core point total will go up.  On days when there isn’t value… You may need to fade the studs or the Group II plays and stick to a balanced lineup.  Generally you will fade this group if there are also no plays.  Only play these guys if they are guaranteed the minutes.


Recent example… I know this is a basketball article but this weekend when Zach Ertz was ruled out I pivoted off Jimmy Graham to the min priced backup TE Trey Burton in Philadelphia.  This opened up $2500 in additional salary and allowed me to pay up at QB with Prescott and play both Zeke and Gurley in my cash lineup.  I hit well above the cash-line and had a wonderfully profitable Sunday.  Had I stuck with Graham and played my original lineup I still would have come near the cash line but I wouldn’t have won the triple ups, and quintuple ups that I did.  This news came 15’ before kickoff so it was important to pull it off.  Oh… Burton scored a touchdown and went 6x by the way.  Interestingly… I saw that in the lower priced tournaments Burton was only 3% owned but in the contests with high entry fees (touts, industry players) he was upwards of 30% owned.  He became chalk.  The smart players are using this last minute info to their advantage


Chalk Talk

Finally, we need to talk about Chalk.  Chalk means the highest owned plays of the day.  Why is this important?  In GPP’s you generally fade chalk to gain leverage on the field and present a different lineup.  It stinks to think you may pass a bunch of people in the late night hammer just to realize you are playing chalk and your placing will not change. 


However, in Cash games you’ve just got to play them unless you absolutely don’t feel good about it.  When King James was chalk against Washington last week, I faded him.  Whoops.  He scored 92 DK points.  Lesson learned!  Everybody was talking about him.  I had him in my lineup until 20 minutes before lock when I pivoted off.  When he scored 92 I turned off my phone and stopped paying attention. 


Why not fade chalk?  If they go Off and you own him, you are in good position as long as you hit value on your other spots.  However, if they don’t go off, you are still with 30-60% of the field so you still have decent odds to cash if again the rest of your roster is solid.  So it pays to build a solid roster.  My new rule of thumb… if a Group I player is chalk… don’t don’t don’t fade.  And if a Value player is chalk, you really can’t fade.  Because of the lost opportunity they give you to pay up.


Mid-Range Chalk you can survive if you fade.


That’s it for this week.  Next week, I will go through 3-4 of my slates for this current week and take you through my roster construction process for that day as well as the results.  Should be fun.  I may even post mid-week if I have a chance to sit down and write.


You can reach Craig on twitter @cpackham007 or on the slack chat.  You can also email him at  He’d love to hear your takes as well.