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The origins of fantasy sports betting can be traced to the 1950s, but in recent years, their popularity has exploded. Early fantasy games were simple recreational affairs between groups of friends and drinking buddies. But the emergence of DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) betting sites in the mid-2000s has propelled the concept to new heights.
We’ll talk more about the history of fantasy sports betting later in this guide. In addition, we’ll help you to understand everything you need to know in order to get involved with DFS. From the different types of game to our top tips for winning, this guide will be your new best friend. But first, let’s talk about the top fantasy sports betting sites on the internet today.
Although the legality of fantasy sports betting has often been questioned, many US states have elected to allow DFS. This has led to the emergence of several specialist fantasy sports betting operators in the country.
Our dedicated panel of gambling industry veterans constantly assesses each online DFS provider. We keep our eyes peeled for the hottest new games, the best promotions and dozens of other important criteria.
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In our expert opinion, the following brands are the best fantasy sports betting operators in the USA right now.
1 First Bet $1000 First Bet $1000 99 points 99 points 2 Risk $2000 Risk $2000 98 points 98 points 3 Bet $50 Get $250 Bet $50 Get $250 98 points 98 points 4 Bonus $1000 Bonus $1000 98 points 98 points 5 Bonus $1000 Bonus $1000 98 points 98 points 6 Risk Free Up $500 Risk Free Up $500 97 points 97 points 7 Bonus $100 Bonus $100 94 points 94 points
Okay, now that you understand where to play fantasy sports betting games, let’s take a deep dive into the subject. Here are the topics we’ll discuss in this article, should you wish to skip ahead.
Fantasy sports betting involves compiling a fictional roster, combining players from different teams into a virtual squad. This “dream team” is pitted against other players and their own idea of a fantasy roster in a competition. The best performing lineup will win a prize, with points scoring tied to events and results from real world games.
Traditional fantasy games would often last an entire season, meaning that players could easily lose interest. It can be extremely demoralizing if someone in the group is comfortably leading early in the season, for example. However, the emergence of DFS has led to a boom in fantasy sports.
By introducing mini competitions throughout a season, players have more opportunities to have fun. Further, there is much less of a long-term commitment required and the faster pace is just much more exciting all round. Since the introduction of betting on these daily fantasy sports, the industry has exploded. After all, gamblers and stats experts are always looking to try and make a few bucks for their knowledge.
The structure usually involves all players paying a fee into a pot, much like a poker tournament. Depending on the number of entrants, the prize pool may be split between several successful players. Although often it’s a “winner-takes-all” situation. The operator will always take a small percentage of the pot to cover their operating fees.
Fantasy sports betting can be traced back as far as the games themselves. For example, a tabletop game was invented as long ago as 1866 that would simulate baseball contests. By the 1930, sports cards had become popular. Games such as National Pastime used them and their statistics in combination with dice rolls to create fictional results.
In the 1950s, Wilfred “Bill” Winkenbach devised a simple golf game where players would compile a roster ahead of a tournament. The scores of each golfer were combined after the event, with the lowest team total taking the prize. Winkenbach also created something similar for baseball, but neither really took off with the wider public.
Winkenbach was also instrumental in founding the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL) in the 1960s. This early contest is the foundation upon which the modern fantasy football game is constructed. By the end of the decade, the first public fantasy league had formed in the King’s X bar in Oakland. Things were beginning to look up.
In the 1980s, a group of journalists created Rotisserie League Baseball, named after the restaurant where they would meet up to play. Thanks to their media connections, the game spread rapidly through magazines and newspapers. Dedicated fantasy sports publications appeared towards the end of the decade, such was the newfound popularity of these contests.
Despite the rapid growth of the 1980s, the internet era was the game changer for fantasy sports. First ESPN, then CBS and later Yahoo’s free-to-play football game, online fantasy games were now becoming mainstream. Groups of friends would already wager among themselves on these competitions. It was only a matter of time before sites would begin to offer betting.
In 2007, Fantasy Sports Live was launched, followed closely by SnapDraft in 2008 and FanDuel in 2009. DraftKings first appeared on the scene in 2012. Over the next decade, the latter two companies would pursue aggressive growth strategies, popularizing DFS further, driving legislation and dominating the industry.
The United States of America has a complex relationship with daily fantasy sports betting. Some states have completely legalized it, others have banned it outright, while many have unclear laws. In such states where a grey area exists, the biggest operators simply offer their services until they are asked to stop.
Virginia became the first state to formally legalize fantasy sports betting, thanks to their Fantasy Contests Act in 2016. In contrast, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Washington do not permit any form of fantasy wagering. Alabama has some of the toughest anti-gambling laws in the country, and yet they do permit gambling on fantasy games.
The situation is constantly changing across the country, as states revise their gambling laws and DFS operators seek to push through legislation.
There are lots of different types of daily fantasy sports, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
As opposed to tournaments, cash games are a good way for new players to start out. They tend to be smaller in size, attracting fewer entries from the best players, so they are a little less competitive.
Further, these contests usually have a more evenly distributed prize structure, rather than stacking the big payouts towards the top.
Tournaments with a guaranteed prize pool (GPP) offer much bigger prizes than standard cash games. However, as a result, they draw in the best and most experienced players, making it tougher to win.
GPP tournaments often allow multiple entries too, making it even more of a challenge for a novice player. But once you’ve built up some experience and understand what you are doing, they can be highly lucrative.
Private leagues for friends and work colleagues are great fun. They are less strict, allowing you to reset to a fresh lineup when you feel like it. But your progress is tracked on a leaderboard, so you can prove to your buddies who’s really the expert.
Often simply referred to as H2H games for short, Head to Head is exactly what it sounds like. You’ll play against a single opponent, rather than taking on a big field. It’s a great way to acquire experience when you’re first starting. But it’s also a good way to settle any scores with friends, calling them out to play one-on-one in private.
A double up is another type of cash game that’s good for beginners. The goal isn’t necessarily to win outright. Those players finishing in the top half of the field will receive double the initial buy-in as a reward. So if you paid $10 to enter and you made the cut, you’ll be paid $20.
Some operators offer games with the same premise as a double up, only with larger multipliers. For instance, a triple up game would see the top 33% of the field earning three times the buy-in. DraftKings takes things much further, offering multipliers as big as 10x the buy-in!
DFS newcomers should keep their eyes peeled for the EPE, or Experienced Players Excluded games. As the name implies, these contests are strictly earmarked for beginners, making for a less intimidating game. They are a great way to familiarize yourself with the workings of a fantasy sports betting site.
DraftKings allows you to play cash games with much quicker drafts. They remove the salary cap entirely, requiring you to pick from groups of players called “tiers” instead. Select one player from each of the eight tiers (NFL or MLB) and your lineup is all set.
In addition to the different game types, there are other rules in play that concern roster selection. There are two approaches – full roster and single game – and both involve their own unique strategies. Let’s take a look at the two main types of fantasy sports betting roster setup.
As you can probably glean from the name, a full roster fantasy game requires you to pick a complete lineup of players. You’ll need to fill every position, including some flex spots, while remaining beneath the salary cap. Such contests often cover multiple games too.
This type of fantasy game is better suited to inexperienced players as there is much less variance involved.
A better option for new fantasy sports betting players is a single game roster. These are much easier to play as you won’t be restricted by positional demands. Instead, you simply pick any player as long as you remain within your budget.
The main danger with a single game roster is that one big outlier performance can swing a contest. This is a much higher-variance way to play, making it better suited to experienced DFS veterans.
Now it’s time to share our advice for how to be more successful when betting on fantasy sports games.
A routine is very important, especially when playing fantasy games which last a long time. It’s easy to forget to submit your adjusted roster before the deadline, for instance. So it’s important to establish a consistent pattern to minimize the chances of making an error. Don’t get complacent. Make use of alarms, sticky notes and do whatever you need to.
One of the biggest keys to success with fantasy sports betting is the initial draft. You simply must be prepared, so do your research. Understand which picks are the most valuable, rather than just the biggest names.
Finding sleepers is a big part of putting your roster together. Identify rookies who are backing up injury-prone stars. Seek out squad players who are about to get more game time, perhaps due to a trade to a new team. Look for veterans whose contracts are about to expire and need to impress.
Don’t be afraid to follow sports betting experts. Any progressional gambler who is making money out of sports and statistics is likely to be a useful asset to a fantasy sports player. After all, it’s their livelihood on the line, not just their reputation. They are motivated to get things right. There are countless forums and social media groups where you can exchange ideas with serious gamblers.
If you’re brand new to the world of DFS, we don’t recommend diving right into the big tournaments. Although the guaranteed prize pools can be tempting, they are highly competitive. It makes more sense to earn experience in the softer games, building up both your confidence and your bankroll. It’s also worth looking for the EPE games until you’re more comfortable.
Many new DFS players try to spread themselves too thinly. Even if you love several sports, it’s a much better idea to focus on one and truly specialize. Similarly, don’t just jump into a game that’s offering a big payout if you don’t know anything about that sport. Stick to what you understand and master that area.
Bankroll management is crucial in any form of gambling and fantasy sports betting is no exception. Stick to the stakes that you can afford and play them consistently, rather than jumping up and down through the levels. This will help to manage the variance involved in DFS games.
In addition, you should keep your betting balance separate from your day-to-day spending money at all times. Never risk cash that’s been set aside to buy groceries or pay off a debt, for example. Always gamble responsibly.
As more daily fantasy sports betting operators appear on the scene, the increased competition can only be a good thing. The bonuses available to both new and existing DFS players continue to improve, for instance. Here are some examples of promotions to look out for.
A common welcome bonus found at DFS betting sites is the deposit match. When you fund a new account for the first time, you’ll receive a bonus tied to the value of the initial deposit.
Let’s say the offer is a 100% match and you deposit $50, for example. In that case, you’ll receive a total of $100 in your account; $50 in real money, plus an additional $50 bonus.
Some fantasy sports betting sites, such as DraftKings, issue free entry chips as bonuses. Register a new account and make your first deposit to receive a token which can be used to buy into certain games. Even though it’s free to enter, you can still win real money prizes.
Many of the top DFS operators also run sportsbooks and casinos. As a result, you’ll find a lot of cross-promotional activities. The “Bet and Get” deal is a popular example. It might be that placing three sports bets of a certain amount earns you a fantasy sports credit, for example. Or perha[s the other way around, with a certain amount of DFS play earning you a free sports bet.
If you’ve made it this deep into our guide to fantasy sports betting, you’re probably about ready to start playing. But if you’re still lacking in confidence, just follow the simple steps below to get started!
First things first, you’re going to need to choose a daily fantasy sports betting site. Check out the list at the top of the page to see the best DFS operators according to our expert analysts.
You won’t be able to play fantasy sports betting games for real money if you don’t deposit any funds! So the next thing to do is head to the cashier, select a payment method and load your wallet with cash.
After funding your new account, you’ll need to decide which sports to get involved with. The top DFS sites offer all the USA’s favorite sports, including basketball, baseball, football and ice hockey.
Within each fantasy sports genre there are several different types of game, such as Head to Head or Double Up. We’ve discussed these in more detail elsewhere, but you’ll need to make a decision as to which is best for you.
Now that you know what you’d like to play, you’ll have to find a game to join. Browse through the lobby to find contests of varying size, duration and minimum buy-in. Make your choice and pay the entry fee.
Okay, you’ve already bought into the game, so now we come to the fun part. It’s time to put your roster together. Analyze the stats and recent performances to build a team, but remember to stay within the constraints of the game rules. For example, there is usually a salary cap, as well as a limit on selecting players from the same team.
Fantasy sports games are great fun to play and offer an interesting twist on traditional sports betting. Experienced and knowledgeable players can even make money from such games. Although the legal picture is unclear in several states, much of the USA now permits legal DFS betting.
Ready to apply your newfound fantasy sports betting knowledge? Be sure to try our top-rated daily fantasy site, where you’ll find a generous welcome bonus awaiting you.
DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) betting is regulated at the state level, so it depends exactly where you live. In Montana, Idaho and Hawaii, for instance, DFS is considered illegal. In many states, the legal landscape is complex; neither illegal nor legal, with sites operating in a grey area. However, more than 20 states have passed laws that explicitly permit fantasy sports betting.
There are several excellent daily fantasy sports betting operators in the United States today. We check each and every one on a regular basis, ranking them based on dozens of important criteria. You can see our expert panel’s verdict at the top of the page.
There’s no substitute for practice, hard work and experience. But we’ve revealed some of our favorite fantasy sports betting tips elsewhere in this guide.
It’s actually really easy to start playing daily fantasy sports games. But if you’re uncertain how to begin, simply scroll a little further up the page. There you’ll find a step-by-step guide to starting out with a fantasy sports betting site.
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