Poker and Daily Fantasy League Odds

Advanced poker players already have the skills in place to be great at daily fantasy sports. Take the concept of implied odds, for example. Most people who are familiar with poker know what pot odds are, but implied odds go a step further. In the game of Texas Hold ‘em, after the flop hits, there are still two cards to go. If you have a four flush, you have two chances to get it. You know 5 of the 52 cards, so your odds of hitting are 9/47 plus 9/46, or about 1 out of 3 (2:1). Pot odds would say that if you are getting more than 2:1 from the pot (you have contributed less than 33% of the total pot), then it’s a mathematically sound play that will lead to a long term profit.

Here’s the catch. Implied odds take into account future hands of play and your future bets. After the flop, maybe your pot odds are 5:1, and things are looking good for you. You have a 2:1 chance of winning, and you have 5:1 pot odds. You think: “go for it!”

So you do. An offsuit card hits, your odds of winning go down to 3:1 at the turn, and all of a sudden a huge bet comes into play, double the size of the current state of the pot. Everyone folds around to you. What do you do?

You almost always need to fold! Implied odds would have taken this possibility into account before it was a problem. Your pot odds were 5:1 before, but that didn’t take into account future hands. Now, your odds of winning are 3:1 (25%), and your current pot odds are slightly better than 1:1 (about 42-45%, depending upon the stakes you’re playing at). What was a great play before has now become a horrid one.

This is an advanced concept but one that is easy enough for someone with a poker math background to grasp. It’s something that is really easy to apply with the concept of value in a daily fantasy league. For example, each player in a salary cap draft has a price assigned to them. Let’s say you want to draft Peyton Manning for your team. He has a price set at $8,500, and your total payroll is $60,000. That’s equal to 14.2% of your payroll, so for Manning to be of value to you, he needs to be able to provide more than 14.2% of your points. You can figure this out based upon his past stats and his current projections. Depending on the scoring system for your league, this could be very possible, or it could be ridiculous to expect.

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However, a good poker player knows that sometimes, you don’t need to play the “correct” way for the play to be correct. Just as being able to read your opponents is correct, sometimes you need to read your proposed players and see what they are up against. Maybe you know that the best value of a quarterback for a week is Andrew Luck. But you also know that he is going up against a tough defense and has been battling injury. Suddenly, his value on paper is not great and even if Peyton Manning is slightly off on paper, he will be the best choice for your lineup, even if he isn’t providing as many points as the math says he needs to in order to be a good choice. This is the best choice for you based upon the particular situation, just as reading someone’s bluff would lead you to making a move you normally shouldn’t.

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