Some Poker History
If you read my profile here on The Daily Roto, you will see that I’m a poker player and a communications major. When I was at college I wrote my senior thesis on how the media and television coverage blew up the game of poker.
I’m not going to bore you with all the specifics, but I basically used an Ernest G. Bornmann’s fantasy theme theory to show how the media created a fantasy with the Chris Moneymaker’s story.
The year 2002 was considered the poker boom and the World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event tripled in entries the next year and continued to grow.
The Chris Moneymaker Story was basically about an accountant from Tennessee that won a $40 qualifier, and went on to win 2.2 million dollars playing poker. The media (specifically ESPN) ran this story and aired the first ever WSOP.
The timing of the story was perfect because it just so happened to be when Steve Lipscomb invented the table cam. That is the little camera in the table that allows us to see the players’ hand of cards so we know what they have.
The game of poker took a huge hit when the FBI seized the online sites for running their business illegally.
Nevertheless, I feel like it’s the early 2000’s all over again, but instead of people becoming obsessed with poker, we are obsessed with Daily Fantasy Sports.
How They Are Similar
One of the parts of Bornmann’s theory was about how some things can create a community of people. Even though I don’t want to admit it, DFS players are no better than people who love the Lord of the Rings or Dungeons and Dragons.
We have our own terminology that outsiders wouldn’t understand and share experiences that people who don’t play wouldn’t know.
If you need examples feel free to look at our terms page and tell me how many people know what fading a player means. Or what a rake is for that matter. Ask someone who doesn’t play DFS or poker how they deal with a bad beat.
The biggest thing I noticed about similarities between DFS and poker is how the prizes jumped higher and higher very quickly.
Did you know that four years ago the FanDuel Football Championship was for 50K?
Now FanDuel has games for 50K just because it’s Wednesday and they feel like it. Yes, this 50K Championship is the same one today that awards the winner one million dollars and a ride home in a private jet.
Additional Daily Fantasy Sports & Online Poker Commonalities
So people are all aboard DFS and it is very common to see a lot of poker players excelling in fantasy. So what do two games that are pretty different have in common?
Being a poker player, it’s pretty easy to see why we like DFS just as much.
When I first logged onto a daily fantasy site to give it my first try, I found that I was in familiar territory. The first thing I said to my friend who was with me when we were checking it out was “this lobby looks a lot like PokerStars”.
It was basically the same and even though I never played a single game of DFS before, I knew what every game in the lobby meant.
In the online poker days, there were Sit n Goes (which are slowly being called leagues now). When I first played DFS they were called Sit n Goes. I recognized double ups because poker also had those, granted there were only six or ten people at a time in a double up in poker, but the game was the same.
I understood how the websites took a rake to make money and more importantly, I understood what GPP meant. Everything I was seeing was the same as when I played poker.
Do Poker Players Have an Advantage?
So how does a poker player have an advantage in DFS? Playing poker is very similar to playing DFS, where you are managing mathematical risk and playing probabilities.
While there really aren’t algorithms in poker (like finding a players value) there are different ways to play poker in different scenarios.
Playing cash games in both poker and DFS are very similar. You want to play conservatively and take as little risk as you can. In poker you play tight and only play when you are dealt good hands or are in a good price to call with a medium hand.
This is similar to how you try to take players with a high floor in your cash games. They don’t necessarily need to go off, but just get you enough points to cash.
While there really aren’t algorithms in poker (like finding a players value) there are different ways to play poker in different scenarios.C. Reilly
Playing tournaments though is completely different than the cash game strategy for both poker and DFS. You want to take on risk because the goal is to finish at the top. Take shots on hands or players that have the potential for a big reward.
Here’s a great example explaining how both risk and reward works with both poker and DFS. In poker, if someone raises and you look at your hand of cards and see a 4 of hearts and 5 of hearts, you fold. Odds are your opponent has a better hand and you don’t want to risk it in a cash game.
But in a tournament you may want to call every now and then. Let’s say your opponent has pocket aces but the flop comes down 3c 6h 7h. You now have a straight with a flush draw and your opponent with the aces is in big trouble.
How is this similar in daily fantasy?
I remember early in the season when San Diego played Seattle and everyone said to fade all the Chargers because Seattle was too good.
In a cash game, I wouldn’t have dreamed about taking a Charger, but in a tournament, why not. Antonio Gates had two touchdowns that game and was about 4% owned.
He wasn’t on all my tournament teams, but I did have him in some.
Just like in poker, I’m not going to call every time I get a 5h 6h, but in both cases it paid off taking that risk and no one saw it coming in both poker and DFS.
Other Advantages Poker Players Have Transitioning to DFS
The other advantage that poker players (especially online poker players) have going into DFS is they understand bankroll management. The set up is exactly the same in DFS as it was in online poker. We understood how much we could afford to play because we’ve made plenty of mistakes in our younger days playing online poker.
I already knew the emotional roller coaster with the highs of winning along with the lows of a cold streak. I knew how to handle bad beats so this wasn’t new to me. If you need a little help feel free to read my bankroll management article.
I understood that the little number next to my balance was real money. I can’t say this as a fact, but I believe a lot of younger players don’t fully understand that they are playing with real money. Of course they know it’s real, but we live in a time where people treat DFS like a video game.
I had a friend who was only making ten dollars an hour complain about money. I told him to pull out some of his DFS money if he was having issues and he was mind boggled by this idea.
It really didn’t occur to him that he was hurting for money but every time he clicked that mouse he was entering a ten dollar game. Ten clicks equaled his electric bill that month.
People who only make $10 an hour don’t realize they need to work for 20 hours when they lose $200 on a Sunday. It’s real easy to see all these tournaments that have $500,000 or $1,000,000 in guaranteed prizes and believe that $200 isn’t much.
But it is, and I hope you don’t overlook that.
So as you can see, these two worlds aren’t very different after all. I’ve made some good friends playing poker and I’ve made good friends playing DFS.
Like Ernest Bornmann said, the artifact (DFS and Poker) creates a community between people.
His theory also says that the community is drawn together by a common fantasy and in both cases here we all fantasize about winning the big tournament.
I find it interesting that his theory worked in both cases. Oh how these two games are so different, yet so similar.
Not to mention if you ever play poker in a casino, there are flat screens everywhere showing sports for a reason.
Poker players love sports too!
If you want to try Your Hand playing daily fantasy sports, check out these sites and give it a go: