Strategic Insights: Essential Considerations for a Mass Multi-Entry Player
Mass Multi-Entry (MME) refers to the act of submitting a large number of lineups into single DFS contest. Several of the most successful DFS tournament players have developed profitable strategies for entering featured GPPs the maximum number of times allowed. When executed properly, MME reduces variance, allowing a winning DFS player to realize his expected value more quickly, grow his bankroll, put a higher percentage of his bankroll in play each slate, and make more profit. When executed improperly, MME can cause severe harm to an otherwise winning player's bankroll.
Whether you're thinking about making the leap to MME, or you've struggled in your MME attempts so far, please consider these lessons I've learned through my journey as an MME player.
6 Qualities of Winning MME Players
I have a difficult time imagining a great MME player who does not possess all 6 of the following qualities:
Mathematical Awareness – Many intermediate and advanced DFS players understand the concept of expected value. They realize that strong lineups, in the long run, will outperform weak lineups. Good GPP players, and especially the best MME players, understand much more. In particular, they understand that the objective is to maximize profit—not average score, cash percentage, or even profit margin. In my experience in GPPs, the most reliable way to make a profit is to win tournaments frequently. To win frequently, I like to have at least 1% of the entries in a contest as often as possible, and I construct my lineup portfolios to maximize the likelihood of an excellent score for at least one of my lineups.
Technical Skills – I am confident that some excellent DFS players build lineups by hand, but I am even more confident that none of the best MME players build their MME lineups by hand. To succeed in MME, a player must be able to both create and edit a large number of lineups quickly. There was a time when technical skills were even more important in DFS than they are now. In the past, certain users would write proprietary scripts to generate lineups, enter them into contests, and edit those entries. Now, a variety of lineup generators are available to the public, DraftKings and FanDuel have bulk upload functions, DraftKings has a mass edit function, and users are no longer allowed to interact with these sites using third-party scripts. Access to tools is more open than ever before, but it is still the responsibility of the player to take full advantage of them, even if it means brushing up on Excel or getting to know the ins and outs of an optimizer.
Adaptability – Conditions constantly change in DFS. Featured contests are much larger today than they were just two years ago. Winning featured GPPs, naturally, is now much harder to do. When the industry grew rapidly in 2015, I decided to increase my entries per contest to keep up. This was the biggest mistake I ever made in DFS. I made a foolish assumption that if playing a few good lineups had been profitable for me in the past, playing dozens or hundreds of good lineups would be even more profitable. I learned a long and expensive lesson that MME is not just about making good lineups, but about choosing contests and making sets of lineups that maximize my probability to win GPPs frequently.
Diligence – When an MME player has exposure to dozens of different players, he needs to take great care to avoid mistakes. It takes smart planning to create 150 different lineups and make sure everyone in them is active, even when news breaks shortly before lock. You're not going to see the best MME players hanging out and chatting before lock at a live final, attending an early Sunday NFL game, or sleeping-in past the start of a PGA tournament on Thursday morning. You're also not going to see the best players repeat their mistakes for too long. The best players are disciplined and motivated to plug their own leaks.
Composure – An MME player can never assume he will remain within his comfort zone. The challenge for an MME player to react to late breaking news is much higher than it is for a single-entry player. An MME player has to make quick decisions intelligently, even when there are no pleasant options to choose from. He also has to make edits quickly and accurately under stress. Failure to act efficiently during these times can have painful consequences.
Patience – A great MME player knows his profitability varies from sport to sport and contest to contest. He does not assume that success in NFL implies an ability to succeed in MLB. He doesn't think that a solid win rate in cash games or single-entry means he's a favorite to profit with an MME strategy. He's willing to limit his exposure in his weaker areas and preserve his bankroll to apply it to his strengths. He understands that improvement over time may yield more long-term profit than he can win in any single contest this week.
Is MME Right for You?
Do you see all of the above qualities in yourself? Take an honest moment to think about it. Reflection on this right now may save you from an expensive lesson later on, much like the one I experienced myself in 2015. If you lack one or more of these qualities, think about if and how you can complete the set.
If you think you have what it takes to succeed with MME, I strongly recommend you begin by focusing on a buy-in level between $0.25 and $5. Play on one site and perhaps in just one tournament at a time. Invest the majority of your GPP bankroll in tournaments where you control at least 1% of the field. Experiment with strategies that give you a great chance to end up with at least one outstanding lineup. Move up in stakes only if you experience consistent success. If you don't, either continue to experiment at low stakes or reconsider whether MME is something you want to pursue.
If the thought of trying MME for the first time or continuing to play MME is intimidating, there are other options to enjoy or even profit in DFS. If you're struggling to win at all in DFS, keep your buy-ins very small, and focus on playing one lineup in fields of 30 players or fewer; these are the easiest tournaments to win, so you should master these first before considering multi-entry or larger buy-ins. If you're strong in single-entry tournaments, continue to focus on them. If you enjoy building lineups by hand and like to play chalk, large field double ups are your best bet. If you like to get creative with hand-built lineups, let that creativity out in single-entry, and don't worry about the technical aspects of managing MME.
Parting Words of Caution: The Biggest Mistakes GPP Players Make
Don't assume that an ability to make good lineups will necessarily translate to GPP success over time. GPPs are complicated. There is a positive but not perfect relationship between making lineups that project well and winning GPPs. Managing risk within lineup portfolios and choosing contests wisely are just as important as making good lineups.
Don't run lineup sets that fail to create sufficient likelihood to win the tournament. In most sports, I think proper multi-entry play depends on an ability to make several lineups that are simultaneously strong and different. You don't necessarily need to be right about every player you like. There's value in covering your bases and hoping just one of your lineups puts it all together.
Don't invest a substantial portion of your bankroll in tournaments where you'll control a tiny share of the field. I recommend having at least 1% of the entries in a tournament where possible and affordable. Moreover, I think anyone who controls less than 0.1% of the field needs to get very lucky to profit consistently, which is not a recipe for success. The truth is that you're not losing massive featured GPPs because the sharks have 150 entries each. You're losing them because all of your opponents collectively have hundreds or thousands of times more entries than you do. If you want to count on making a profit, winning your contest has to be a realistic goal.
To illustrate my final point, I'd like to leave you with one of my favorite DFS-related tools, the Los Angeles Times Powerball Simulator. This models a lottery where a $2 ticket gives you a better than 1 in 300 million chance of winning $1.5 billion. An undisciplined observation of expected value may lead some to speculate that this is an excellent value. However, running trials on the simulator will quickly show you that you're in for trouble if you don't win an extremely rare prize. In fact, you'll lose just over 80% of the money you invest with remarkable consistency in this example. What does this teach us about DFS? It shows you that if can't play a tournament frequently enough to win it outright, you can never practically assume you'll realize your EV. You might be the best DFS lineup maker on Earth, but you're still a favorite to lose money if you focus on GPPs where you control a tiny fraction of the field. Find ways to control 1% of the field or more, whether that means sticking to smaller fields, or developing your MME skill to enjoy success in fields with a few thousand players.