My favorite gaming activity outside of poker is fantasy sports.  I’ve been doing some variety of fantasy sports for over 25 years, but my favorite by far is fantasy football (that’s hand egg for my European friends ).  That’s not the only offering for one to play however.  Major League Baseball and NBA basketball are common staples, but you can also play fantasy contests in sports such as golf, hockey, soccer (football for my European friends ), nascar, or even MMA (mixed martial arts).  With PokerStars now entering the arena of fantasy sports (more on that later), I thought I’d share a blog with you here about this fun and exciting activity, which also happens to be 100% legal in the US by the way. 

 

So in general how it works is you form a team of players, and then you earn points based on how those players perform in their real world results.  How you go about this varies based on the format… I will cover some common formats for NFL Football here:

 

Season Long Leagues:

In season long leagues, you acquire a team of players via some sort of draft, and carry this roster for the entire season.  Any player not drafted is placed in a free agent pool.  You can drop players from your roster and sign new ones from the free agent pool during the course of the season, and you can also trade players with other owners in your league.  The type of season long leagues I play are generally head to head leagues, meaning every week my team will be matched up with another from the league, and our teams will go H2H with the highest score winning.  There are standings with each teams won/loss record tallied until the end of the regular season.  In NFL this may be through week 13 or 14 of the NFL season typically, depending on how many teams in your particular league and how many will make the playoffs.  Then in the next weeks the top teams square off in a playoff bracket to determine the league champion!

Re-draft leagues:  These are season long leagues that are basically 1 season deals.  At the end of the year, all rosters are emptied out and if you play again next year, you’ll draft over from scratch.

Dynasty leagues:  In these you keep some # of players (depending on your league rules) to carry over to the next season, and draft to fill the remaining open roster spots.

Drafts:   Draft types can consist of snake drafts, auction, live, online, or via email.  In snake drafts the draft order snakes up and down to provide a balance for the teams… for example in a 4 team draft the order would be:  Round 1- 1, 2, 3, 4 Round 2- 4, 3, 2, 1 Round 3- 1, 2, 3, 4 Round 4- 4, 3, 2, 1, etc.    In an auction draft, each team is given a fictional budget to spend, and the players are placed up for auction one at a time with the player going to the highest bidder.

 

Daily Fantasy Sports:

Daily fantasy sports, or DFS for short, is relatively new on the scene and has become all the rage in the last few years.  This is also the arena that PokerStars is stepping into.  These contests run daily in the case of a daily sport like baseball or basketball, weekly in the case of NFL football, or over the course of one contest series like in the case of a golf tournament such as the Masters (4 days), or a fight card in MMA.

In DFS the site sets a salary for every player, and each contestant has a salary cap to use to fill their roster of players who will accumulate points for them.  The salary caps are usually set up in such a way that you’ll be able to afford to roster a couple top tier players if you wish but will also have to find a couple bargain players to afford them and fill out your roster while staying under the cap.  You can modify your roster until the games start at which point the rosters lock.  From there, the contests are structured similar to poker tournaments… there is an entry fee anywhere from freerolls up to big buy in games, and a prize pool that pays out similar to poker tournaments.  They have contests that pay out like regular poker MTT’s, 50/50’s or double up contests where the top half of the field double their buy in, head to head contests to play against 1 other player, etc. 

There’s some real appeal to DFS over the more traditional season long leagues, and it’s attracted a lot of players (including me).  A few things the season long league players will relate to:

-Everyone can own the same player in the salary cap format of DFS.  So you don’t have to watch your favorite player score points for another team in your league every week.  You can own them if you want along with anyone else who wants to roster them.

-Every day/week/contest is a brand new deal, your roster from last week nothing but a memory.  No more watching your first round pick or that stud you spent 20% of your draft budget on to get in auction go down with a season ending injury.  Next week is a clean slate, a whole new roster.

-Lack of commitment required.  Going on vacation?  Need a break?  No problem in DFS, take the week off and don’t enter any contests.  There’s no roster management, trade offers, or free agent wires to worry about like in season long leagues. 

DFS has literally exploded in the US and Canada over the last couple of years, and is starting to go international as well.  How big is it?   One of the industry leaders, DraftKings, is running a 10 Million guaranteed tournament for week 1 of the NFL season (starts Septemeber 13) for a buy in of only $20.  This tournament will crown not one but two millionaires as it pays 2M to 1st and 1M to 2nd.  This event allows for a maximum of 572.5K entries and pays 125.7K total spots.  That’s crazy huge!  Two people will become millionaires for $20 each!  Would you like to give them a try and take a free shot at the 10M millionaire maker as they call it?   They are running a promotion for new accounts to do just that… follow the link to DraftKings, register your new account, and make a $5 minimum deposit before the 13th and you’ll receive a free $20 ticket to this tournament.  You can’t beat that!  Incidentally, DraftKings is also an official sponsor of the WSOP and runs DFS contests that are satellites to the WSOP Main Event.  November Niner Max Steinberg won his 2015 main event package this way, through a DFS WSOP satellite contest.

DraftKings is currently available in the US and to legal residents of Canada.  Not in the US or Canada?  You’ll be able to get in the game soon… DraftKings has just recently obtained a license from the UK Gambling Commission authorizing them to operate gambling software and pool betting, and the company has also stated plans to expand to Europe, Asia, and Latin America in 2016. 

So how does this tie into PokerStars exactly?  As I mentioned, they are throwing their hat into the DFS ring with the recent purchase of the DFS site Victiv.  They have rebrand the site StarsDraft (the rebranded site just launched today!) and will be rolling for the NFL season week 1.   And seeing as they already have the #1 online poker product internationally, I would guess might look to expand their DFS product internationally as well.  I played on Victiv a bit last NFL season, and having logged into the site now after the roll out of the rebranded product... it already looks more slick and functional than what I remember, and I’m sure will only be more so with the additional tweaks and changes that come with the change of ownership.  I’m looking forward to see what types of promotions and contests they roll out and am excited to see the same bright innovation from the worlds #1 poker site sprinkle it’s magic into the DFS world.  To get you started they are offering a generous first deposit bonus of 100% up to $250 and a free entry to their NFL Week 1 100K guaranteed contest for deposits of $100 or more (plus a 1K depositors freeroll for all deposits).  Just click on the StarsDraft link to create an account and get started.  If you're looking to get a feel for it and get your feet wet before depositing, they also have a 1K freeroll posted for week 1.  And a bankroll builder program with 5 tickets just for registering.  You would expect nothing less from a top organization like PokerStars. 

Also, because these sites are 100% legal in the US, you can deposit easily with a credit card or your paypal account.  I have used paypal for my deposits and withdrawals for years and have found them to be super fast and easy in all cases.

Although I still plan to play this year on the current big sites I’m accustomed to playing on, I will definitely be giving the new PokerStars branded product action as well.  If you’re not already involved, I encourage you to follow the links and get an account registered, and give one of the freerolls a try.  It’s a lot of fun to follow the games with an interest in the players performances, and can be profitable too!

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask in the blog comment section or send me a PM.  If there’s interest, perhaps I’ll live stream a DFS Q&A on my twitch channel as well at twitch.tv/thelango.  Let me know if that’s something you’d like to see before NFL week 1.