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Want to Win 1st in a Big GPP? Think 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

Sometimes, it seems impossible to win a big GPP. With thousands and sometimes even tens-of-thousands of lineups to compete against, the chances of placing 1st seems equivalent to winning a small lottery.

And it’s true. Winning a GPP is never going to be easy (unless, maybe, your name is Sahiilsud). But there are specific strategies we can use to significantly improve our chances of winning big. And these strategies have nothing to do with a magical skill of knowing who the top stack is from night to night. It’s by understanding which stack is going to be the most under-utilized, but still has a solid chance of being at the top.

 

Why Ownership Matters

You hear a lot of Daily Fantasy (DFS) players talking about ownership, but what does it mean? And more importantly, why does it matter? Ownership is simply the percentage of lineups that a player is used in the field. Some players on a given night will be used in over 60-70% of lineups, while stacks usually have a maximum ownership of about 30-40%. Ownership numbers can be predicted somewhat accurately, but we’ll get into that later.

Ok, so we have the “what”, but how about the “why”? Why do these numbers matter?

Ownership actually has a significant impact on your chances of winning a GPP, and the best way I can explain it is through an extreme example. Let’s say we’re playing a 100 person, winner-take-all tournament. We make our lineup with our favorite stack of the night, the Cubs, who end up being stacked by 19 other players (20% of the field total). If the Cubs have a great game, and are the stack of the night, we’re in great position to win the tournament, but our lineup still has to be better than 19 other people. Assuming we’re a little better at making lineups than the field, we should have a 5-9% chance of winning when we’re fortunate enough to have picked the best stack, still not that big.

But lets say I’m in the same tournament as you, and I stack the Royals. The Royals are a far inferior stack to the Cubs: the likelihood of the Royals being the top stack is 5x less likely than the Cubs. However, I stack the Royals since I predict that I’ll be the only player doing so. After the lineups lock, sadly, I’m slightly off, and another player also stacks the Royals. But, even if that happens, there’s some likelihood (1/5 of the probability of the Cubs) that the Royals are the top stack of the night. If the Royals do perform best, I now only have to beat one player, and I have somewhere between a 50-65% chance of bettering him with my lineup (assuming I’m making an optimal lineup). Doing some simple math, it’s clear that the Royals stack has a better chance of winning overall than the Cubs stack, even though it is way less likely to be the top play.

Now, GPP tournaments are almost never winner-take-all, but on DraftKings, as much as 30-50% of the prizepool is sometimes in the top 3 prizes of a tournament. In these contests especially, this type of thinking is incredibly important.

 

Why the 3rd, 4th, or 5th Best Stacks are Really the Top Stack

This is where this article gets a bit complicated, because there are a lot of variables from slate-to-slate. Sometimes, the most-owned stack is very clear, like when there’s a Coors game and a clear, cheap pitcher to own to help pay for those expensive batters. Sometimes, the most owned stack is very unclear (last night being a perfect example, there were 5 different teams I could have imagined being the highest owned stack, and in the end no team had massive ownership). But in general, this is a practice you need to get into before making your GPP lineups.

First, go to the FantasyLabs lineup page and look over all the teams. Using FantasyLabs run projections and your own assessment, find out what your two or three favorite stacks are, and see if they align with FantasyLabs run projections. If they do, chances are you are looking at the top 2 or 3 owned stacks on most nights.

Now, find your next favorite stack, and just to be safe, find the next best one after that. This latter stack is the one you want to be using in top-heavy tournaments. If it’s a stack you secretly love for one reason or another, even better.

Obviously, this is a very simplistic way of deciding things, but it’s effective. DFS players don’t want to waste their tournament lineups, so they usually aren’t going to go past using one of the top three most desirable options to stack. Because of this, over 50% of stack ownership will likely be in those top-three teams. The next several teams likely won’t garner more than 7-10% ownership, and some may even get 1-2%. With our Cubs-Royals example, the Royals had 1/5 the chance of being as good as the Cubs, but this is actually a number that is way off in practice. Baseball is a high-variance sport, and one stack is usually not that much better than another. You usually will be able to find a 5%-owned stack that has close to as high of a chance of being the best stack than that 30%-owned stack.

 

Conclusion

I want to emphasize that there is no magical way to construct a lineup that will ensure that you win a GPP every night you play. GPPs are hard, and when you play in tournaments with massive fields, you’re going to need a lot of luck to win from night to night. This can be frustrating. A lot of DFS players take this frustration and decide that winning is clearly impossible. I assure you, it’s not.

The most important thing that I want you to take away from this article is there are two things you can do when constructing your lineup for a GPP: You can pick the right stack, or you can pick the right GPP stack. These are not the same. Once you learn that, you’ll find yourself winning a GPP soon enough.

 

View all posts by Max J Steinberg
Max J Steinberg

About the Author

Max J Steinberg Max Steinberg is a professional poker player and a top Daily Fantasy player who uses his creativity and mathematical abilities he cultivated as a poker player to win money on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He already has several big tournament scores to his name including the Victiv Bowl and countless MLB Monster wins. Follow him on twitter @maxjsteinberg.

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