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Yahoo Bankroll Challenge, Week 1: Starting from $0

For more information on the Yahoo Bankroll Challenge and to read the recap from each week, click here.

When I tweeted about starting this challenge, I received a few messages about making a deposit instead of starting from $0. Yes, it would make things easier and would have a greater parallel to the average casual DFS player getting started, but I was inspired by the Chris Ferguson poker challenge and an Occupy Fantasy member facing similar uphill battles. 

Ferguson, a famous professional poker player, wanted to “demonstrate to people the power of good bankroll management and what you can accomplish with it” (sound familiar?) by starting with $0 on Full Tilt Poker and running it into $10,000.

He started by playing freerolls and eventually turned it into $28,000. 

Our aforementioned Occupy member didn’t want to deposit real money in a DFS account, so he began grinding freerolls on FanDuel over the summer of 2017.

After never making a deposit, his bankroll now sits over $20,000. 

So hell, if they can do it, I also can start from $0, even on Yahoo where the freerolls are limited. 

Week 1 starting $ balance: $0
Week 1 ending $ balance: $5.80
Week 1 starting YSRP balance: 4000
Week 1 ending YSRP balance: 1200

Here are some of the strategies I used this week with advice on how to implement them on other DFS sites: 

Strategy #1: Use referral bonuses to start a bankroll

Yahoo runs about one freeroll per week per sport, so it could legitimately take months for me to cash one and start playing with real dollars. Don’t get me wrong -- I’m still playing every single freeroll possible for the entire year because they’re free and have no downside (and you should, too!).

But to jumpstart my bankroll without making a deposit, I called on some friends to use my referral link. If they deposit $5 with my link and play, we both get 2000 Yahoo points (YSRP). 200 YSRP is the equivalent of $1, so each friend I referred netted me $10 worth of entries. 

So now in addition to freerolls, I could play cheaper contests with a chance of winning real money in return. 

How to implement this on FanDuel or DraftKings: Deposit bonuses. Referral bonuses. Achievements / Missions on DraftKings. Explore all opportunities to get points, crowns, and bonuses. 

Strategy #2: Game the QuickMatch Rankings

Yahoo has a feature called QuickMatches, which are Head-to-Head contests (H2H) where you’re paired against an opponent of a similar skill level. There are varying tiers of skill -- for each sport -- that are determined by your historical winning percentage. You need to play at least five contests in order to be ranked. The best part about QuickMatches? There is zero rake so all of the entry fees are distributed to the winner. 

Before you’re ranked, Yahoo also gives you the ability to play free QuickMatches to test your skill. Once I discovered this, I knew I could scheme the system. Since there is zero risk or reward in a free QuickMatch, I could lose all five on purpose and get the lowest skill ranking possible. That way, when I start playing paid QuickMatches, I’ll be paired against the worst possible opponents. 

You can only play QuickMatches with real money, and not with YSRP, so I'd have to wait until I saw real dollars in my Yahoo account before I could play them.

How to implement this on FanDuel or DraftKings: Only play H2Hs against opponents without experience badges. Track your records versus each H2H opponent to see if you have any edges over specific players. 

Strategy #3: Only play [No Veteran] contests

Yahoo classifies a veteran player as someone who has:

More than 1,000 paid contest entries.
Won a single prize of $1,000 or greater 3 times.
Or won a total of $2,500 or more and have payouts from more than 5 entries.

Since I’m just starting on Yahoo, I’ve clearly never reached any of these milestones. No Veteran contests -- which, surprisingly, exclude Veterans from playing -- generally require much lower scores to cash (and win), so I need to play every No Veteran contest possible (within my bankroll limits) to increase my ROI in the early days. 

(The first No Veteran contest I played, I got dead fucking last, so it didn’t really matter who the competition was tbh). 

How to implement this on FanDuel or DraftKings: Exclusively play Beginner or EPE contests until you no longer qualify to play them. 

Week 1’s Pivotal Moment

I’m not a regular NBA DFS player, and given my high-risk mindset, grinding out NBA 50/50s and other low-risk contests to get my first real dollars isn’t ideal. But, after bleeding YSRP for four straight days, I finally cashed in two of my three No Veteran NBA contests on January 7 for an embarrassment of riches -- $5.80

Next Steps

NFL, my best sport, returns on Saturday and I’ll be able to play paid contests (and QuickMatches since I completed my five free ranking ones last weekend), so that’s where my focus will be for my $5.80. I have 800 YSRP left, so I’ll play some more No Veteran contests to try to convert those points into real dollars. 

I’ll also start playing NBA QuickMatches to see how soft (or less bad than me) the competition is at my skill level. 

PGA returned, too, so I’ll be tanking my five free QuickMatches to get ranked. 

For any questions about the bankroll challenge, hit up Brian on Twitter. For more information on bankroll management, contest selection, and long-term DFS strategy, read our flagship e-book, The Ultimate Guide