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Tao of Bales: DFS, Diversification, and My GrubHub Orders

Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Sports for Smart People book series, and most recently Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports. Follow him @BalesFootball. Many of you know me as a world-class author and just overall one of…

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Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Sports for Smart People book series, and most recently Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports.

Follow him @BalesFootball.

Many of you know me as a world-class author and just overall one of the smartest people you’ve ever met, but not as many realize I’m also a sponsored GrubHub eater. That’s right, the web’s premiere destination for delicious food delivered right to your door in minutes sponsors me, and by that I mean they send me things like mugs and socks and free food.

If you want to be sponsored by a delivery food platform, all you need to do is order five figures of delivery per year and have the same number of Twitter followers. Seriously, anyone can do it!

One of the best parts about being a sponsored eater is writing articles bragging about being a sponsored eater. Second is the socks.

But really, it just comes down to the love of the game for me. Thai, pizza, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese, sushi, burgers—it doesn’t matter—I’m just about that delivery life.

One thing I really like to do when I order from GrubHub is get lots of different foods because I’m a fatass. I eat them throughout the day and my appetite changes, so I like to have options. It’s called being prepared for anything, look it up. You have to expect the unexpected if you want to be considered a serious eater, which I do.

Here’s yesterday’s order from Long Thang Thang Long.

This is more or less 3.5 meals—three full ones and the spring roll app. This is pretty standard for me and constitutes a day’s worth of food for ya boi. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten pho out of a mixing bowl at 8am.

Some of you who follow me on Twitter know I order a healthy portion of delivery food, but I never get the question, “How many meals did you order today?” That’s strange to me because I do get the question, “How many lineups are you playing in cash games?” about 50 times a week.

Now I’m going to do something only the most sophisticated of writers could pull off, and that’s use my delivery order of Vietnamese food as a metaphor for daily fantasy sports.

Vietnamese Food and Cash-Game Lineup Count

Let’s analyze yesterday’s GrubHub order as if it were a cash-game lineup. I went safe with the beef pho. Thang Long delivers the noodles outside of the broth—obvious pro move—so there’s not a risk of them becoming soggy. The broth heats up well, so this is a really low-variance play for me.

I typically won’t eat the pho right away for that reason. You always need to be aware of opportunity cost in daily fantasy eating, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned as someone who leads such a sad existence that he’s ordering delivery food daily, it’s that YOU DON’T EAT THE PHO RIGHT AWAY even if you want it really badly; the opportunity cost—waiting on the items that don’t heat up as well (namely the spring rolls and banh mi)—is simply too great to justify eating the value pho immediately.

I can’t say it enough: WAIT ON THE PHO!

Now, the spring rolls (and the banh mi, to a lesser extent) are a somewhat high-risk choice. That’s particularly true if you’re trying a new Vietnamese joint because you don’t know how the delivery time might affect the spring roll crispiness. I don’t have that problem because Thang Long is the bomb (I still say ‘the bomb’), but still, spring rolls do have a more narrow eating window; you gotta eat them right away.

I’m okay with that risk in cash eating, as long as the payoffs are asymmetrical such that the upside outweighs the risk. When it comes to crab and shrimp spring rolls, you’re talking about a major ceiling on flavor. I’m fine stacking them with the banh mi—and taking on a little volatility—because I know the potential payoffs are so massive. I might not take on that sort of risk if we were dealing with, I don’t know, like sushi or something (pretty low ceiling and a ridiculously low floor on delivery sushi, but I’ll still fall for the trap once a month or so—damn you shrimp tempura roll).

Regardless of all that, I do think I did a really nice job of diversifying my order. You have a crunchy appetizer, two noodle dishes (but one is more or less a soup), and a sandwich. The range of proteins alone is pretty inspiring as I’m looking back on it; I’m not saying a lesser eater couldn’t pull it off, but there’s no way a lesser eater could pull it off. Crab, shrimp, beef, pork belly, meatballs, grilled pork—like GTFO with that. Six separate meats in 3.5 meals. I don’t even know what to say. Do I just take a bow? Great order. Really great order.

So this is a 3.5-meal order, and you might think the meal count dictates the risk. It doesn’t. If I were feeling freaky yesterday, I might have gone all-in on pork. I was really feeling the pork when I ordered, so I could have just gone crazy: pork spring rolls, pork pho, pork banh mi, pork vermicelli. That would have been bananas, right? No, it would have been pork.

Now, I didn’t do that, even though I really wanted the pork, because of my experience ordering delivery. It’s a super-advanced skill to realize what you want to eat now might not be what you want to eat later, especially once you’ve already eaten it. Next-level stuff.

Had I stacked pork throughout, I would have been taking on much more risk. Again, the number of meals doesn’t matter; what matters is how many different types of foods you get and what sort of exposure you have to each of them. Five lineups meals with just one player different in each protein could be dramatically riskier than three meals that have nothing in common; it’s all about food diversification and exposure.

You get the idea. So with that said, I’ve gotta run to work on my cash-game lineups. I’m just not sure who to use in the flex this week: Raheem Mostert or beef pho?