Going Pro : The Mathematics of being a Full time Daily Fantasy Player like Condia

fanduel leaderboard december 2013

Like the 40+ US State Attorney Generals, prokopyshen.com believes that playing Daily Fantasy games involves skill – meaning it is not a game of chance or gambling.  So if you are doing good and like the work, what does it take to “Go Pro”?
In this post, we discussed at length why Daily Fantasy sites use a Salary Cap to stay in business by being able to demonstrate the games they offer are one of skill.  Today, let us assume that legendary Daily Fantasy player Condia is both skilled and is a fulltime player.  We will use the data from the Fanduel Leader board, make some assumptions  about what a “Pro” should aim for in winning percentage and look at the results as an aid to those who wish to be a ”Daily Fantasy Pro”.
I would think it would be difficult for even the most casual Daily Fantasy Player at a site like fanduel.com not to become aware of player Condia.  His presence in almost every game I have played, the number of times this user is referenced in internet forums and chat rooms along with the reputation that was earned with [google this] the “Condia rule” that has been implemented at other sites would be hard to miss.
So, let us assume that Condia is a full time Daily Fantasy player.  If we set aside bonus and frequent-player reward factors, to just break even in Fanduel playing 50/50 or head-to-head contests with the 10% rake, you need to win 55.6% of the time.  This is done by solving for X in the equation (X*1.8) – X = 0, which is X= (1/1.8)=0.556.
Of course, you can’t feed your family just by breaking even.  So let’s assume that you are able to consistently make a 10% return on your cash flow investment.  Your winning percentage now has to be (X*1.8) – X = 0.1, which is X=1.1/1.8=0.611.  This means that of all the people who walk in the “50/50” or head to head game door, you believe that with your level of skill you can win 61.1% of the time.  Let’s assume this as a bare minimum rate of success to be a full time Daily Fantasy player like we have assumed Condia to be.
As of this writing, looking at the fanduel.com leader board results for Condia, we can see that this user won 12813 games in September 2013, 9010 games in October, 30711 games in November and 31,891 games in December.  Averaging that four month sample suggests an average wins of 21,106 per month.
Using our assumed success rate of 61.1%, this would require entry in 21,106/0.611 = 34,543 games.  All of the Daily Fantasy sites that I am aware of have Terms of Service that ban robots, so just clicking the “Enter Game” button 34,543 times per month  translates to  about 1100 game entries each and every day in a month.  This alone has to be full time job, so keep that in mind when deciding if you are ready to “Go Pro”.
Let’s make our next assumption that on average, Daily Fantasy player Condia is entering 50/50 games or head-to-head with a $5 entry fee.   This is very conservative but I have no knowledge of his involvement in high stakes games that are offered.  We will simplify further our analysis to assume that Condia is playing daily even though some contests like the NFL are essentially offered on a weekly basis. 
The deposit requirement to play 1100 games with a $5 entry fee is $5 x 1100 = $5500.  We expect to win 61.1 % of these games, giving us a daily return of 1100 * 0.611 * $5 * 1.8 = $6048.  Checking our arithmetic, we can see our 10% return on investment ($6048/$5500= 1.100) is as expected.  Our rate of profit is $6048-$5500=$548 per day, which should help pay the bills as this is about $200k per year.
But, there is a rub.  There will be good days and bad days, meaning streaks of wins and losses.  You will need a much larger bank role to survive the dips.  The mathematics of selecting the optimal bet size are covered here.  As a general rule, your bet should be selected on the basis of wagering only what you can afford to lose, which conservatively should be 15% to 20% of  your funds available.  This means having $5500/0.15 = $36,667 easily accessible, but not necessarily on deposit.  You (or your syndicate) need to plan on the basis that it may be necessary to advance several thousand dollars on short notice to the daily fantasy site to stay on track.  Even with these conservative assumptions, it would take some steady nerves to play through 4 or more days of losses.
As well, having this extra balance on hand reduces your rate of return.  We had originally aimed at 10% return on investment per day, but the increased balance requirement to cover streaks reduces this to $548/$36,667 = 1.49% per day.  However, be assured that this is a truly exceptional rate of return when considered on an annual basis.  (Exercise is left to the reader to work out what the stunning annual rate of return 1.49% per day is).
It would be a disservice to not note that you can also be assured that playing at this level will also draw attention from your Daily Fantasy site.  At a minimum, you should expect to be assigned your own customer service representative who is available 7x24 who will encourage you to call if you have any questions along with a reserved VIP direct toll-free number to an operations desk with no-hold time warm transfers should you encounter any technical problems while using the site.
Why is this?  Assume that each of the 1100 five dollar “50/50” games you are playing in has 50 players.  The “rake” to the Fantasy Site from these games is 1100 * $5 * 50 * 0.10 = $27,500 per day.  You are now a key part of a non-trivial cash stream to the site, and just as importantly, you are an identifiable skilled player which is essential should the day come when a call comes in from a US State Attorney General office asking if you are offering a game of chance or skill.
To summarize, what does it take to play Daily Fantasy to be in the same league as Condia?  First, you need to track your ability to win games and you should be looking at a minimum win rate well over 61%.  You need to have a deposit balance of  about $6K at your site and short term access to about $36k to cover bad times.  You need to have the stamina to enter literally hundreds of contests every day and be comfortable with a total daily entry fee of over $5k per day.  Beyond this, you have to track the sport itself by watching games, listening to sports channels, reading news and social media feeds and digesting the ambiguity of injury reports each and every day.  If you meet all of these criteria and are successful, you will be well down the path to a yearly income of $200k per year.
You may also be interested in my series on the mathematics behind picking the optimal daily fantasy teams Part1 Part2 Part3 and Part4 .
Click here to read more fun return analysis for full time Pro players.
Happy Picking!