Daily Fantasy Bankroll Building: Starting Small And Winning Consistently

There was a question on our forums a few days ago regarding what the best thing to do was for a daily fantasy beginner with $50. What games should they play? What stake level? How many lineups should they make?

In this article, I will talk about strategies and concepts to help beginners build a bankroll and work their way towards daily fantasy success.


Always Play The Smallest Stakes


This is usually $1 or 25 cents. A general rule of thumb is the lower the stakes of the game, the softer the competition will be. On DraftKings, there is practically no limit to the amount of contests you can enter, so why would you play a $25 tournament when you could instead play 25 $1 tournaments? On FanDuel there is a more tangible limit, currently 1000 games for NFL per contest start day, and for every other sport 250 games per sport per contest day. For someone starting with 50 or 100 dollars, reaching that limit is not an issue.


Playing higher stakes can be tempting, especially when you see huge prize pools with large 1st place prizes, such as the DraftKings Millionaire Maker, where first place is one million dollars. If you want to do these tournaments as a fun gamble, I’m not going to discourage you. But it’s not going to be the most profitable venture for a beginner, and often will cause you to take on more risk than someone trying to build a bankroll from a small amount of money should. There are other approaches that are more profitable with less variance, even though they may have a bit less upside.


The Multi-Lineup GPP Strategy


I think the most profitable tournament you can play are the soft, low stakes GPP tournaments on each of the big sites, the .25 cent Quarter Arcade on DraftKings or the $1 or $2 buy in Dive and Snap on FanDuel (these tournaments take on different names for different sports). Guaranteed Prize Pool tournaments, also referred to as GPPs, are poker style tournaments where the top 10-20% of the field at least doubles their money, with payouts increasing as you place better, and first place receiving 10-15% of the total prize pool. These tournaments tend to have 1st place payouts in the thousands of dollar range, so even with a really minimal investment, you can have a chance to win a really nice chunk of money. Because top heavy payout tournaments tend to be the most exciting, you find them to be the mostly filled by recreational players. Because they are such a small amount of money, you also see a large amount of bad lineups or people really not taking the lineup seriously. You almost never see this at higher stakes.


A great low variance, high upside strategy, is to make a very large amount of lineups, using a large variety of players. With $50, you can make 200 lineups in the .25 cent tournament on DraftKings, or 50 lineups in the $1 tournament on FanDuel.  The upside of this strategy is obvious, in one day you can turn $50 into a couple thousand dollars if you make a great lineup and win or place highly. But this also would seem to be a high variance strategy. If these tournaments are only paying out 10-20% of the entire field, would it not be easy to do extremely poorly and lose almost everything?


The truth is it is hard to lose money if you are picking good players and making a wide variety of lineups. This is because each lineup’s performance is negatively correlated to each other. If one of your lineups does badly, that means a lineup that uses few to none of those plays is more likely to do well. You are bound to have one of a plethora of lineups, assuming you use a wide variety of player, do pretty well and at least make your money back or cut down significantly on your losses. Making a lot of lineups can be hard work, but it’s hard work that will pay off.


Play Cash Games For A Lower Variance Approach


Daily Fantasy sites offer a wide variety of game types, including head to head games, 50/50 games, and smaller tournaments. These tend to be referred to in the industry as “cash games.” Head to head games are exactly what they sound like, your lineup goes against one opponent head to head, and the higher scoring lineup wins. 50/50 games are also exactly what they sound like, you play in a tournament with several players, and the top half of lineups double their money. There are also small 3,5,10,20, or even 100 person tournaments that have top heavy payouts similar to GPPs, however with a limited amount of players, the chance of winning is much higher.


Obviously, with cash games you get less variance because the payouts are not as top heavy and the field size is limited. But they also tend to have a more difficult set of opponents, because most people who want lower variance games are people who take the games seriously. If you are a skilled player, you are going to win. But for people just starting out and who may not have the hang of daily fantasy yet, I think a multi lineup GPP approach is the better bet, as the games will be profitable for beginners who take daily fantasy seriously.


Look For Overlays, Get On A Variety Of Sites


Daily fantasy sites aren’t perfect. Sometimes, they will have a contest where they guarantee a certain prize pool but the amount of entrants fails to reach that guarantee. When that happens, we have to what’s called an overlay, where the site is essentially adding free money to the prize pool. For example, if a $1 tournament had a guaranteed prize pool of $100, but only 50 players join the contest, the site has to cover the extra $50. The extra money the site has to cover is called an overlay. For the players in that tournament, the site basically just handed them a free $1 lottery ticket.


Overlays actually happen a lot, although moreso in higher buy in tournaments. Both the one million dollar guaranteed prize pool basketball and baseball tournaments this year on DraftKings each had an overlay of over $200,000.  We only advertise DraftKings and FanDuel at Daily Fantasy Winners, but there are a large amount of small sites out their as well that routinely have overlays in small buy in tournaments. DraftDay, FantasyFeud, FantasyAces, and FanThrowDown are just a few of the more popular ones that sometimes have overlays on small buy in GPPs.


The way to spot an overlay is to simply look at a daily fantasy sites lobby before contests begin and filter for the guaranteed prize pool contests. If you see a contest that has not come close to filling, it means its probably going to have an overlay. This becomes certain several minutes before a tournament begins, but you can often spot tournaments that will have overlays several hours before a contest start time.



  • Flashy, big buy in tournaments with huge first place prizes can be tempting, but for beginners there is no reason not to play much softer, lower stakes contests, since there is essentially no limit to how many small stakes contests you can join.
  • Using multiple lineups in soft guaranteed prize pool contests is a low risk, high upside way of starting your daily fantasy career.
  • For people who like lower variance, cash games are a good option, although they tend to be a lot less soft than GPPs.
  • Get onto multiple daily fantasy websites, and look for overlays to get some really easy profits.


With a massive $80,000 prize pool and $6,000 awarded for 1st place, FanDuel’s $2 Sunday Snap is a great way to build your daily fantasy bankroll. Sign up through this link, and receive a 100% deposit bonus when you deposit on FanDuel.






View all posts by Daniel Steinberg
Daniel Steinberg

About the Author

Daniel Steinberg Daniel Steinberg is a former bond trader at a multi-billion dollar proprietary trading firm in Chicago. He uses his knowledge of statistics and his creativity from his career as a poker professional to create the most advanced Daily Fantasy statistical analysis that you will find anywhere. Follow him on twitter @DanielSingerS

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