Daily Fantasy Baseball: An Introduction to Bankroll Management
Keeping your bankroll in check during the NFL season isn't exactly rocket science. You only have to go through the process 17 or so times, so your process can be pretty straight forward when it comes to game selection, bankroll allotment, and everything else that goes into it.
There are more than 17 days in the MLB season.
Instead of taking part in just over a dozen slates, you can instead partake in around 180 if you're so inclined. Dope as heck? Uh, yeah. A little bit scary? Probably a "yes" there, too.
This makes a discussion around bankroll management possibly even more important for daily fantasy baseball even more important than it was for football. If you're playing the same volume each slate, things could get real sticky real fast. Let's try to combat that and go through some bankroll management tips for MLB DFS.
Stick to the 80-20 Rule
If you recall from our discussion on bankroll management in NFL DFS, the main guideline was the 80-20 rule. Let's go through that quickly just in case you haven't hit that lesson yet.
The 80-20 rule refers to using 80 percent of your entry fees for a given slate in cash games (50-50's and head-to-heads) and 20 percent in tournaments (also known as GPP's). I'd stick to this plan when playing baseball.
The main reason for deviation from this plan is based on variance. When there's a smaller slate, there's more variance, thus incentivizing you to skew more towards tournaments. However, a generic slate of baseball games will likely have nearly the same number of contests as a slate in the NFL, thus allowing you to still focus on cash.
The general perception of baseball is that it's higher-variance than the NFL due to unpredictability. However, that variance isn't as wild as you might expect. Over a larger enough sample, the better players will turn a higher profit. Sure, on a day-by-day basis, things may be a bit more difficult to peg, but over a large enough sample, that will smooth out.
When it comes to bankroll (again, defined as the total amount of money you are willing to devote to daily fantasy sports as opposed to the total amount currently in your account), I would try to spend less here per slate than you do in the NFL. The general guideline there was to spend around 10 percent of your bankroll each week; I would be well below that for baseball.
I try to cut things down a bit in baseball just because there are so many slates throughout the season. If I'm rolling out 10 percent of my bankroll every night and I go on a cold streak, then I've put a serious dent in my bankroll over the span of 10 days as opposed to 10 weeks. I'm not about that life, fam.
Rather, I'd prefer to sit around half of that. I wouldn't blame you for going above or below that mark, but that would be my general comfort level. When you're first getting started, it might make sense to stay even lower than that mark, but five percent allows you to still play a decent volume without exposing yourself to excess risk.
If you fall under the category of a low-volume player (as I did when I first started dabbling in baseball), then you'll obviously have to cater this more to your own needs.
My generic strategy was to try to play cash games every night. This would only be one or two lineups for only a couple of dollars each.
The intent behind playing lineups each night was simply practice. Because this is a game of skill, it'll take you a while to get fully acclimated to the game. By playing low-buy-in games, you can smooth out the difficulties with learning while still improving your skills. Look at your opponents' lineups to see what worked (and what didn't), and then adjust your strategies as you see fit.
This doesn't mean I didn't play tourneys at all. I would do so once every few nights, particularly on shorter slates. That way, I got the excitement of the large prize pools while still having most of my exposure in cash.
Obviously, if your preferences are different, then feel free to go with those. This is simply a recommendation for people looking for a place to start. If you want to throw your hat in the ring with tournaments right away, you can go right ahead; this is simply a starting point.
Play Head-to-Head Games
The full argument behind this was fleshed out previously in discussing the NFL, but the concept applies here, as well: head-to-head games are the dopest.
Head-to-head games help to ease the variance associated with daily fantasy sports. This is no different in baseball than it is for any other sport.
Let's say you put together a lineup that does all right. It's not great, but it's also not a complete dumpster fire. As such, it finishes in the 40th percentile of all lineups submitted that night. You could certainly do worse.
The problem here is that you aren't likely to cash in 50-50's if you finish in the 40th percentile of all cash lineups. Only half the lineups get paid, and you'd need to be in a fairly lucky pool in order to be in that top half with that lineup. That's not as big of an issue in head to heads.
Here, when you finish in the 40th percentile of all cash lineups, then you've got a 40 percent chance of winning a given head-to-head game. That's compared to about a 10 percent chance in a 50-50. Pretty sweet gig, right?
Of course, the downside here is that you could lose with a lineup that finishes in the 90th percentile. If you want to shift your decision-making around that 10 percent chance, feel free to do so. I'd rather take that risk and play more head-to-head games than 50-50's, personally.
The other advantage of head-to-head games is that you can basically set your own parameters. On FanDuel (and many other sites), you have the option to keep your head-to-head game closed to only your friends. If you know someone who is also just starting with daily fantasy baseball, invite them to a head-to-head so you can both learn at the same time. You can also play free games with no buy-in if you want so that you can see how your lineup would perform without actually taking any losses.
This isn't to say that 50-50's aren't fun. I still really enjoy them a lot, and some of my cash-game money did go into 50-50's. Once I realized the advantages of playing head-to-head games, though, I definitely gravitated more that way instead.
Overall, our strategy for bankroll management won't change much for baseball relative to other sports.
The base point of our cash-tourney distribution should probably stick near the 80-20 model, with 80 percent of our entry fees going into 50-50's and head to heads with 20 percent going into tourneys.
If there's a point of deviation, it would mostly be in the amount of our bankroll we use on a given slate. I'd skew to around half of the money allocated during the NFL season, and I wouldn't blame you if you went even lower to start.
Finally, head-to-head games are saintly and shall not be slandered. They smooth out the variance and can help us ease our way into a sport with which we may not be as familiar. As a conservative player, I'm always in favor of that.