While most believe that daily fantasy sports is set to explode in popularity, some worry that the disparity between the skill level of amateur players and professional grinders could soon have a negative effect on the industry’s growth.
In a post on RotoGrinders, “Sheffo14” addressed the issue and wondered if DFS sites should make efforts to level the playing field to promote a healthy daily fantasy ecosystem. He was of the opinion that players who have dedicated countless hours to studying the game will gobble up the fishy players faster than they can be replaced.
To solve this perceived problem, he proposed a solution in which DFS players become ranked based on factors like winning percentage and average scoring. “Each player would be given a rank and/or handicap similar to a player’s handicap in golf… This information would be public on the site and players would only be able to enter contests vs. other players of equal or greater ranking,” he suggested.
The response to the idea was fiercely negative, with players bringing up a number of reasons why such a strategy would fail. Many pointed out that skilled, high volume players are the sites’ best customers, and it would be contrary to their best interest to implement such a plan.
“You have to realize this isn’t a sport or competition where it’s supposed to be fair,” said “bhdevault.” “It’s a business, and to some, it’s their income.”
“AtGame7” countered the assumption that inexperienced players would even want a results-based tiered system. “Ever been to a casino? People flock to gamble on table games they will NEVER be able to beat over the long haul, NEVER,” he said. “I go, I play, I lose but I enjoy it so I write it off as entertainment and move on.”
But the danger of new players leaving a site after going bust at the hands of top pros is a valid concern. Some suggested that the sites cap players’ daily entries to ease the pressure on the fish. “That way they would have to make a choice between higher roi matches/lower profit amounts (low buy in contests) and lower roi contests/higher profits (high buy in contests),” said “ydomes.”
Lessons from online poker
The online poker industry has long struggled to strike a balance between professional players and amateurs. While the average pro will generate much more rake than his fishy opponent, poker sites still need a supply of the latter to attract the former. A site which has the reputation of being stocked with pros could end up scaring away even more casual players, leaving only the grinders, who, often times refuse to play each other.
To counter this problem, Full Tilt Poker recently made some big changes to its product to ensure that less sophisticated players won’t quickly go bust and never come back. The Amaya-owned company has taken table selection out of players’ hands by automatically sitting them in the next available seat. The site has also decided to remove its once thriving nosebleed tables and remove heads-up games altogether.
The effect those changes will have on the Full Tilt’s bottom line is still unclear, but the parallels between DFS and poker are undeniable, and DFS operators would do well to learn from online poker’s mistakes.