From Poker to Daily Fantasy Sports with SamENole


A member of PocketFives ever since our first year in business, Matt SamENoleSmith (pictured) has amassed $1.1 million in online tournament winnings along with almost $400,000 more at brick-and-mortar casinos. Now, he has turned his attention to daily fantasy sports (DFS) on sites like FanDueland DraftKings and, in fact, is camped out in Atlantis in the Bahamas for a big daily fantasy football tournament.

Smith won the DraftKings Millionaire Maker in October, defeating a field of almost 100,000 entrants for a blistering $1 million.

PocketFives: Talk about your decision to play daily fantasy sports. How did you get into it and how long did it take for you to feel like you had an edge?

Matt Smith: I started in 2011 right after Black Friday. I started playing FanDuel baseball for fairly low stakes. I had a little bit of success, but nothing crazy. I didn’t start getting into it too much until 2013 for a lot bigger stakes. Winning in baseball got me going. That was the only sport I felt really comfortable with.

PocketFives: You play a lot of daily fantasy football, right?

Matt Smith. Yeah. I’ve always been a football fan. There is so much more money in football. Baseball is every day, but football has the massive prize pools, so it was worth taking a shot. Football is more of a crap shoot. The fields are so huge. One or two players can make such a big difference.

PocketFives: What resources do you use to determine your big-money NFL lineups each week?

Matt Smith: I use RotoGrinders, RotoExperts, and Rotoworld for injury updates, but probably RotoExperts more than any of them. I like their write-ups and they have cheat sheets where the guys say who they like. I set a lot of my lineups based on those sheets.

PocketFives: Talk about your trip to Atlantis (pictured) for the DraftKings King of the Beach this weekend.

Matt Smith: It’s similar to PCA, but there’s not poker. There are 50 entrants and first place is $1 million. Last place is $7,500, so I’ve locked up that much. It’s only the 1:00pm and 4:00pm games on Sunday, which is different from normal DFS. It should be a fun vacation.

PocketFives: Do online poker players have any edge in DFS compared to the general public? Were there any skills from poker that carried over to DFS?

Matt Smith: Poker players can grasp DFS a lot better than the normal person can, even if it’s just bankroll management. I don’t think the normal person is willing to spin $500 to $1,000 in a tournament, but poker players are used to it. Learning the stats and how to read them is similar to poker. If you have a good stats-based mind, you can probably figure out DFS.

PocketFives: Just like in poker, how important is volume in DFS? What do you consider an optimal number of teams in a big tournament like the FanDuel Sunday Million or DraftKings Millionaire Maker?

Matt Smith: Half of the Millionaire Maker winners only had a couple of entries, but it’s an advantage to have a lot of teams. I normally have 50 or 60 teams in the Millionaire Maker and the week I won, I had 60.

Multi-entry is a big discussion in fantasy just like it is in poker, but the prize pools wouldn’t be as big as they are if they didn’t allow it. Some people complain that the pros have an advantage having 100 teams, for example, but I’ve played tourneys with one or two entries and didn’t feel like I was at a significant disadvantage. You’re risking less to win more, but you don’t have as big of a chance to win.

I know some people who have had 1,000 entries in one week, but it’s time-consuming to put in all of those entries. I start Saturday and it takes a few hours to get 50. I don’t start looking at much of anything until Saturday night. You don’t know during the week who will be available, but Saturday night you’ll know and Sunday morning you look at inactives and do a few more lineups. I spend probably three or four hours on Saturday night and two more on Sunday morning.

PocketFives: Do you still play poker?

Matt Smith: There’s a Hard Rock Casino a few minutes away, so I was paying two or three nights a week. It’s a good backup. Before DFS, that was how I was getting by, playing $2/$5 and $5/$10 at the Hard Rock, but I don’t enjoy live poker as much as online. I was definitely doing DFS at the poker table!

If you don’t have a FanDuel account, sign up through PocketFives by clicking hereand get a generous deposit bonus plus access to 5,000 one-day leagues each week! Plus, play in this week’s Sunday Million, which has a $2.25 million prize pool. DraftKingshas a special Millionaire Maker running for Week 15.