Friday, September 18, 2015

Good Luck With That

When you watch their constant stream of commercials during the games, you would think that winning big bucks by playing in one week Fantasy Football leagues like FanDuel or Draft Kings is the easiest money you will ever make.  These sites have exploded as billions of dollars in investment capital have flowed into the companies running them--making them the hottest thing in "sports".

It's easy to see the appeal.  A lot of people play Fantasy Football in private leagues.  But it usually takes just a couple of weeks to realize that your team stinks--and that you are in a for long season of mockery by every other member of the league.  One week fantasy saves you from that humiliation.  Your stud quarterback blows out a knee in Week 2?  No problem, you get a guy just as good as him next week and start all over.  Add into that you don't have to wait 17-weeks to win your cash and you can see why one-week games appeal to our modern immediate gratification society.

FanDuel and Draft Kings have set up their operation like casinos--with small money games meant to draw you in.  "I can't lose that much if I just play for a dollar a week!".  Then you win cash back a couple of weeks and you start to think "Hey, I'm pretty good at this, I need to start playing for bigger bucks!"  Of course their are $50, $100 or even $1000 a week "leagues" that you can get into as well--just like the increased stakes tables or slot games at the casino.

And it is in those bigger money games that you run into the sharks who know how to work the system and take your money.  Those guys you see celebrating the "big check" in the commercials?  They have turned one-week fantasy into a full-time job.  Yes, the only thing they do all week is play fantasy sports.  And they are using what is called "Predictive Analytics" software to gain a huge edge over all those guys who log in to the game site after seeing the commercials (and entering the free code word) and picking a team based on their "gut feeling".  That Predictive Analytics can track the performance of every player and every team and spot trends that can help someone to determine the best values at each position for every game played that week.  These guys also scour the team injury reports and on-line stories by every beat reporter to see who missed practice and may not be 100% or who may be limited in playing time--along with which backup is going to fill his place.  Are you willing to put in that kind of work just to have a chance to get your money back?

Some may ask how these games are legal.  You can thank a US Supreme Court decision that found that Fantasy Football--where individual players are selected--is a game of skill and not of chance--which means it is not "gambling".  Whereas picking a number of teams to beat other teams by a certain amount every week is still considered a game of chance--even though the same on-the-field game determines both outcomes.  So go ahead and get in your entry for the one million or two million dollars that will be given away this week--just keep in mind you have no chance of winning.

No comments:

Post a Comment