What is a fantasy sports Cash Game vs GPP?

There is a bunch of daily fantasy sports (DFS) terminology that can be confusing to the new player, this post explains the difference between Cash Games and GPPs, and how your strategy might change depending on the type of game you are playing.

Cash Games refer to 50/50 or Double Up games, where the top half of the entries will cash. On fantasy sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, users usually get paid at a rate of 1.80x. This means that if you enter a 50/50 contest with a $1 entry, you will receive $1.80 if your lineup finishes in the top 50% of lineups. These games are also usually restricted to 1 entry per user. You can determine the rake of these contests by = [prize pool / (the number of entries * the price per entry) ]-1. If you enter a 10 lineup cash game costing $1 per entry, and the top 10 lineups receive $1.80, the total prize pool will be $9, therefore the rake is $1 or 10%. Or = [9 / ($10)] -1 = 10%.

The term “cash game” is a poker term where players play for an open ended amount of time, compared to a “tournament” where there there are payout ranks based on where players finish. Many DFS tournaments have Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPP), where a minimum guaranteed prize pool is backed by the DFS site. For example, DK or FD might have a GPP where there is a $1,000 GPP and each entry costs $1, in this case the site puts up $1,000 and hopes that more than 1,000 entries are made. Some GPPs have a cap to the maximum number of entries that can be made, and others allow an unlimited number of entries. There are pros and cons to each format, so its important to choose contests that match your individual risk/reward objectives.

Playing cash games will generally lower your volatility since you will cash more frequently, however, your returns are also limited to double your entry. GPPs are also usually more “top heavy” as the payouts will usually be narrowed to the top 20% of entries, this is done to load up the top prizes for 10x, 50x, and more than 100x payouts. If your goal is to try winning a big payout, like a lottery, then playing large GPPs is where you should focus.

Your DFS strategy should be different depending on which type of game you’re playing. Some players are more volatile than others, and some players are more or less owned compared to others. In a cash game, you’re better off trying to draft a combination of the best value players that will max out your salary cap, regardless of their likely ownership %. This is because clustering near the middle of the pack, with a slightly better than average result will payout the same as a lineup finishing first.

When you’re playing a GPP, it’s better to create volatile lineups with players with low ownership percentages, because in order to hit the extremes, you’ll need unique players. Many DFS users also enter multiple lineups in GPPs as a way to spread their risk. Think about it like an investment portfolio with an index fund compared to 10 small cap miners. The index fund will always perform to the average, but will never outperform, whereas the portfolio of 10 small caps has a chance to bomb or hit it big.