Tilt and Tendencies

“Hey jackass, it’s me… The one you saw this morning and took a looooong look at? You said I looked so good, that I had everything you were looking for…and then you tossed me aside like a piece of meat.

I just want you to know that I don’t need you, but it sure looks like you needed me. Once you started looking elsewhere for the hot new thing and you forgot about me, I decided I was going to make you regret your whole day. So just know that while I don’t hate you, I hope I made you hate yourself.”

It’s a common phenomenon: make a lineup early, and then tinker. And tinker. And tinker some more. Then when the games go live, you’re staring at your new lineup putting up zeroes while your original players are going off. Now you’re on tilt, and your future decisions are impacted.

Why let yourself go on tilt? And why not look for ways to extract an advantage off other players’ tendencies? That’s today’s article, it’s a bit longer-winded so gear up!

Trying to eliminate tilt from your DFS play is damn-near impossible. There are countless reasons people will go stir crazy playing DFS: chose the wrong goalie (#GoalieTilt), you tinkered the wrong way with the lineup, you picked the wrong line in a blowout, etc. They’re all valid reasons to feel like the world’s against you, but it’s time to stop that.

It’s firstly important to recognize the real reasons players will go on tilt – it’s not that “tinkering” or picking a goalie is the problem, it’s the unwillingness to admit your own failings. It’s the inability to see your own biases. Sometimes it’s even plain old bad luck (but that’s rare). There’s an excellent article here about tilting in poker and why it happens, and it’s definitely worth a read.

The starting point for getting rid of your bad tendencies is accepting your own failings. You may not even realize what you’re doing wrong, so a suggestion off the top is to start tracking everything you do. Track every player you use, every contest you enter, and try to spot patterns. Do you use the same player every time he’s playing? Do you win a couple in a row and start jacking up your entry fees? These have the potential to be terrible habits, but by recognizing them you’re one step closer to improvement. Now it’s time to stop making the same mistakes. NO ONE HERE CAN HELP YOU BUT YOURSELF, but by understanding why you do what you do, you’ve got a leg up on the competition.

What I personally do to stop myself from tinkering is just to set up a 2nd lineup either for free or for a low dollar amount (say $3) – if history had shown that I was consistently better with my 2nd lineup, I would let myself tinker constantly. Eventually that proved to not be the case, so now I know that I need to be hands-off on lineups once I’ve finalized them. Does it still happen? Absolutely, but it happens a lot less often than it used to, and although I’ll complain on Twitter sometimes, it doesn’t bother me anywhere close to as much as it used to.

Another strategy I’ve used in the past is to split my lineups in half – half gets Goalie A, the other half gets the opposition Goalie B. In an ideal world the game ends 1-0 in a shootout and both lineups look great, but more often one lineup outpaces the other by at least 3 points (the W). It’s just a risk-averse way to get rid of goalie tilt, but if you find you’re always picking the wrong goalie with a great lineup, it helps to get some lineups in the green and eliminate stress during the games.

Let’s get to the good part though, extracting an advantage on the opposition! You should have a good understanding of the common mistakes by this point, because chances are you’ve made them. What are the mistakes that I see players make most often?

  • Recency bias – you’ll see a lot of lineups that feature some players that went off their last time on the ice. Maybe it’s hoping that history repeats, or maybe it’s fear of the player continuing the hot streak and missing out, but this happens all the time. Don’t pencil someone hot into your lineup if your projections don’t warrant it. Don’t chase yesterday’s points
  • Same player every night – pretty self-explanatory, it’s the “Ovechkin rule”. Or the “Kane rule”. Or a million variations of a “rule”. Based on pricing and GPP ownership %, you should have a good idea who’s consistently in lineups, which should allow you to be contrarian not just in GPPs but also in cash games.
  • Letting past plays dictate future lineups – people will go back to the well as often as they can. If Connor McDavid won you a GPP last week, chances are pretty good that when I look at your lineup he’ll be in there again. Conversely, people will ignore players who have “burned” them in the past. Without being a part of the DFS community or tracking lineups for every player you face, this is basically impossible to take advantage of, so your mileage may vary.

Figuring out your opponents lineups before they do is almost as valuable as making your own lineup. Hopefully this article helps eliminate some bad habits and helps you capitalize on what everyone else is doing wrong.

Good luck in your lineups, you can find me on twitter @adalyfrey

Photo: Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

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