As you get into daily fantasy sports, you will hear the term “GPP“ and “Cash” games often. And, when I explain to you that GPP stands for “guaranteed prize pool,” you probably won’t be more informed than before. The simplest definition is: GPPs are tournaments with high payouts while Cash games are 50/50 endeavors with smaller payouts. Cash and GPP formats make up the majority of DraftKings games and require different strategies to win. Below are basic starting points in thinking about strategy for both.
A cash game is one where around 50 percent of the participants win the same prize and don’t require a top score to win. This means if you are in a 100-person contest and finish 50th, you get the same amount of prize money as if you finished first. You’ll see different versions of these, but Double Ups, 50/50s and Head-to-Head games all give you just under a 50 percent shot to win.
Basic strategy to prevail in cash games is to look for consistency. To cash out, you don’t need to finish first, you need to finish somewhere in the top 50 percent. That will push you to select players with high floors, or in other words, players who get on base with regularity and max out their at bats. That means you might forego players who have good upside, such as pure power hitters, but also strike out a lot and could easily go hitless in a game.
The same can be said for pitchers. You want to look for safety, which will also be the most expensive. You will often hear the phrase, “pay up for pitching in cash games,” which holds true. The more consistent your player is, the better he will be for cash games. That often means taking players who are considered “chalk” plays, as many other DFS players will also gravitate toward those players.
In GPPs or tournaments, 20 percent or fewer of the lineups win money, with the top finishers getting a big percentage of the winnings while that percentage drops quickly as you go down the list of winners. A GPP is all about high risk and high reward.
Since GPP games have much higher payouts than cash games, they also bring more risk. Those consistent players you and many others chose in cash games might work in a GPP lineup, but you will need to find ways to differentiate your lineup from the crowd and pick players who can put up big numbers but will likely be less consistent. That could mean taking cheaper pitchers who have good strikeout upside, paying up for hitters with more power, stacking hitters from a single team in a good matchup, and fading players on “hot streaks.”
You can’t expect to win GPPs consistently, which means droughts are inevitable. You can expect to win cash games with some consistency as you learn the game, to keep your bank roll on course. Understanding the nature of these two types of games will go a long way in helping you find success in daily fantasy baseball.