DFS Strategy: MLB Bankroll Management


If you practice proper bankroll management, you’ll be cheering your wallet on to new heights

There are many parallels and lessons that can be learned for your daily fantasy baseball tournament play based on backgrounds in other games such as tournament poker or thoroughbred handicapping. MLB DFS, like those other two pursuits, is a game where you have multiple opportunities daily to get in on the action in a high-variance event where the correct play is often in contrast to the actual result of the event.

The mental hurdles are very similar, and in MLB GPP play, you will certainly need quality bankroll management in order to stay in the game and get a true reflection of your expected ROI through volume. Dropping from the leaderboard in a MLB GPP to the other side of the cash bubble in the final four innings of the late game can and will happen, and the only way to handle the mental impact of it is to have a long-term bankroll management game plan grounded in logic.

Any tournament poker player will tell you that you can be the best player in every tournament you enter for weeks at a time, either online or brick-and-mortar, and still fail to reach any final tables. Opponents getting insufficient odds to continue with a hand hit runner-runner straights, pocket kings get cracked all-in pre-flop against jacks, and the list goes on and on.

If you are a player who is competent enough to expect a long-term ROI due to making primarily +EV plays in high-variance events, volume is your best friend. Being the best player in a $100 buy-in MLB tourney does you no good if not cashing will knock you out of DFS action the same as being the best player in a $1K online poker tourney doesn’t matter if that’s your entire bankroll. In either case, they are horrible decisions regardless of how much better you might be than the field.

When deciding what buy-in level you want to play in an MLB DFS game, you have to consider a number of factors. Perhaps the most important is knowledge of yourself; in other words, what buy-in level can you play without getting out of your game due to the cost, and what GPP buy-in can you lose and have it not affect you.

If failing to cash a $50 buy-in tourney is going to hurt you mentally, it does not matter if you have a $10,000 bankroll; a $50 BI is out of your comfort level. Everyone will need to decide for themselves what cushion they feel comfortable with, but for GPP play I like to enter tournaments that represent no more than 2% of my DFS bankroll. Some players will go up to 5% of their bankroll and some will go a bit less. The name of the game for a +ROI gamer is staying in action and building volume to level off the variance.

The next question comes when you are either winning or losing an amount that significantly changes your working bankroll. You’ve just taken down $5,000 for shipping a GPP and your $1,000 bankroll suddenly is sitting at $6,000. As a $10 tourney player, do you move up in stakes? If so, how much?

It is usually dangerous to significantly jump in stakes off a big win from a small sample. A smart compromise for a lightly experienced player would be to take $4,000 out of your DFS bankroll at that point and put it in the bank for life expenses. With your remaining $2,000 bankroll, you can now double your usual buy-in level to $20 and have it only represent 1% of your bankroll, giving you a psychological comfort level and a healthy cushion while you go up in stakes.

Remember, as a new player, you don’t really know your true expected long-term results, so keeping it all in the pot and going after $100+ buy-in games is a path to bankroll ruin.

In summary, MLB DFS play shares similarities with games such as tournament poker and thoroughbred handicapping, and the latter two high-variance games have taught us conclusively over time that planning bankroll management is crucial to keep yourself in action. The best MLB GPP player on the planet with horrendous bankroll management will show inferior results to an average beginner with a solid financial plan that he is committed to following through the emotional peaks and valleys that promise to follow.