Head-to-Head and 50/50 Strategies

Course No. G 203

These aren't the games where you'll net one of those oversized checks with a six- or seven-figure sum on it, those are GPPs, but head-to-head (H2H) and 50/50 games are far less risky. Many daily fantasy professionals earn their living grinding out H2H and 50/50 "cash games." The expression cash games is often thrown out in daily fantasy conversation and refers to H2H and 50/50 games specifically. The optimal strategies for making money habitually in cash games are different than ones used for GPPs, and these strategies avoid risk and unnecessary variance.

Avoid the Experts When Possible in H2H

The idea of avoiding facing experts applies specifically to H2H contests because you're playing only one opponent, so this bit of advice doesn't apply to 50/50 games. If you're new to daily fantasy it's unlikely you're intimately familiar with who the grinders are and who is an inexperienced or casual gamer. Don't just jump into a H2H game with anyone, look into the player's track record and experience before joining a game with them.

On FanDuel you can see how many games an opponent has won, broken down by each sport, by clicking on their username. On other sites like DraftKings, it's not as simple. A roundabout way to getting information about players on sites other than FanDuel is by using a search engine like Google to look them up. After playing for a little while you'll begin to recognize familiar names. There is no reason to make life harder on yourself when it comes to attempting to win H2H contests. Avoid the experts and try your hand at beating others.

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Minimize Risk

In GPPs you're attempting to outscore many opponents, in H2H games you are attempting to beat one opponent and in 50/50s your goal is to finish in the top half of the field. The person that finishes fifth in a 10 person 50/50 wins as much as the person that has the highest scoring lineup. There is no additional incentive to finishing ahead of others who cash, and that changes what you need to expect from your roster.

Consistency trumps ceiling in cash games. Boom-or-bust players and contrarian picks are best reserved for GPPs. Creating a solid roster of consistently good players is the ideal approach for building your bankroll through cash games. Sacrificing a bit of ceiling when selecting one player over another is advisable if your lower ceiling player carries a higher floor. Everything revolves around consistency and avoiding zeros or low scores from players.

Aim for Good, not Great

As I've stated before, you're not attempting to beat an entire field of gamers, you're looking to beat one person, H2H, or half of them, 50/50s. Fading a superstar that is heavily rostered in GPPs is an acceptable practice because if that player has a big game, you don't gain any separation from the field. You don't need to separate from the field in 50/50s. Avoiding a star level player that projects to score a bunch of points and appear on lots of daily fantasy rosters can immediately put you in a disadvantageous position to cash.

An example best illustrates this point. If you're in a 10 person 50/50 contest and Clayton Kershaw has a great matchup, he's likely to be used by the majority of gamers if his cost isn't astronomical. If he delivers on his high scoring projection and you aren't rostering him, it will be very difficult to offset the production you aren't getting from him. Also, if he pitches a clunker and fails to deliver on his lofty projection, it doesn't immediately derail your chances of cashing since others will be saddled with his low scoring effort.

Set a Point Scoring Goal

This may seem obvious, but setting a scoring goal for your cash games' rosters is helpful.. In GPPs you're looking to score tons of points, but in cash games there is typically a point total that is roughly good enough to win on a daily basis. Knowing what that point total is makes setting a desired point total per salary cap dollar spent possible. Once you know what that equates to, you can begin to identify value plays.

Value plays are preferred to high upside, low floor alternatives. This idea was presented in the Minimize Risk section above, but it bears repeating, everything revolves around consistency in cash games. When you create multiple lineups for cash games that you project to reach your point goal, select the lineups that feature less inconsistent players.

Diversifying Lineups is Optimal for Playing Multiple 50/50s, Singular Lineups Used Across Multiple H2Hs is Best.

Entering the same lineup across all of your 50/50s is a dangerous proposition. An off-night from one roster, for whatever reason, used across multiple 50/50s is likely to result in losing all of your contests. To put this in perspective, if your roster's score finishes in the 25th percentile, you're probably going to lose all of your 50/50s barring an incredibly lucky scenario where you're in a 50/50 with a collection of terrible rosters.Using the same core of stars and including a variety of players to round out a few different rosters to enter into multiple 50/50s is a good way to mitigate the risk of a disastrous night.

Conversely, using the same lineup across multiple H2H games isn't as dangerous. Using the same 25th percentile scoring example, that hypothetical lineup is going to win roughly 25% of your H2H contests. You aren't going to get completely cleaned out like you would in 50/50s. By picking one lineup to use across multiple H2H contests, though, you're taking your best projected team into play against opponents. If that team lives up to your expectations, you're going to beat most teams and only lose to high scoring exceptions.