My Experience at the Daily Fantasy Bootcamp in Chicago

On Saturday, April 18th, I had the pleasure of attending the Daily Fantasy Bootcamp at the JW Marriott in Downtown Chicago. The second I saw a tweet about the event months earlier, I knew it was an opportunity I needed to capitalize on. Needless to say, anyone with a passion for daily fantasy sports needs to undergo this experience.

The day was filled to the brim with intriguing strategies, hilarious stories and most importantly, thought-provoking lessons.

Throughout the course of the bootcamp, I was fortunate to hear from five professionals who approach DFS from five unique angles.

Peter Jennings (@CSURam88) got things rolling by diving into the concept of the cash game. Through the use of eye-opening statistics and an extremely thorough description of the differences between different types of cash games, Peter really opened my eyes to a side of DFS that I’ve never really experienced.  Grinding out win after win, I got the impression that Peter approaches DFS with the most precision of the group.

Justin Van Zuidan (@STLCardinals84) hit in the 2-hole and dove head first into the world of GPP strategy.  Being primarily a GPP player myself, Justin did a great job of walking through GPP lineup formation and the art of stacking with skill. I had the pleasure of being on Justin’s team for the Bootcamp DFS competition where we had the opportunity to build lineups and compete against the other pros. It was fascinating hearing how Justin goes about being contrarian but still logical at the same time.  We talked a lot about recency bias and opportunity cost, two concepts I’m extremely familiar with from my economics and psychology courses in college.

Al Zeidenfeld had the difficult task of captivating the audience’s attention after lunch.  For me, his presentation was the most beneficial.  As many of you know, the biggest thing I struggle with is being overly contrarian.  With a few simple examples, Zeidenfeld’s spiel really resonated with me.  In a nutshell, the question I have found me asking myself before making any decisions now is: Am I on the right side of the math?  Putting hope and want aside, asking myself this elementary question has simplified my decision-making progress.

Michael Leone (@2Hats1Mike) followed up Al’s presentation with the most detailed explanation of advanced pitching statistics I’ve gotten the chance to listen to.  Leone did a phenomenal job of starting with the basics and adding on more sophisticated layers of knowledge.  While I’ll considered myself relatively in the loop when it comes to concepts like K% rate, BABIP and xFIP, Leone’s presentation focused on the predictive metrics that can help in spotting trends before they become completely obvious to the marketplace.

Andrew Wiggins (@AndrewWiggins–no, not the one on Minnesota) closed out the day with general application of how to deal with the stresses that come with DFS into daily life.  Wiggins described in detail the struggles that a professional DFS player goes through on a day-to-day basis.  For a young guy like myself, it was really eye-opening hearing how a pro like Andrew copes with the mental roller coaster that is DFS.

Throughout the day, we had individual strategy sessions at our tables with our team leaders and we actually got the chance to compete against one another.  Unfortunately, my squad did not take home the glory in the competition but that’s for a different day.

We concluded the day with drinks and appetizers at a local bar where we got to talk sports and just hang out with the guys.  Everyone was super personable and the excursion really put the cherry on top of the day.  When you interact with the pros on Twitter and see them on RotoGrinders Live, it’s easy to forget that these are just normal dudes doing what they love.  To put it simply, DFS is one of the reasons these guys wake up in the morning. Nevertheless, these individuals all shared a few commonalities that should not be overlooked.

1) Their work ethic and preparation is off the charts

2) They learn from their mistakes and constantly STUDY

3) They remain level-headed and don’t get too giddy and don’t get too down

4) They approach each day/contest as a puzzle that is constantly changing

While each speaker focused on a different aspect of the game, these four points were really the main takeaways for me.

Since the bootcamp, I’ve definitely seen some noticable improvement in my DFS performance.  Just last week, I had two top 10 MLB GPP places on FanDuel playing the smallish, Turbo slates. One of the things that @AlZeidenfeld said that really hit home with me was to focus on the games you’re good at.  While it seems like a rather simple lesson, we often make it harder than it needs to be. For the time being, I’m going to stick to this approach until something clicks.

Like I said before, the boot camp was a phenomenal experience and I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to take his or her DFS game to the next level. If you have any specific questions about my experience, feel free to ask me on Twitter (@Stavster91) and I’ll be glad to give you my two cents.

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