Variance in Cash Games vs GPPs

Tournaments are by far the most popular DFS contest format.  The seduction of being able to profit hundreds or even thousands of times what you initially invested is hard to pass up for both casual players and sharks.  Due to their appeal to the casual player, these contests often have some of the softest competition.  Although the contests are the softest, they also carry the most risk.

In GPPs only around 20% of the field is paid, unlike Cash Games where nearly 50% of the field is paid.  The payout structure of GPPs is also set up so that you win more as you place higher.  This leads to a much greater range of outcomes over even large sample sizes.  To give you a visual example of this we used the poker variance simulator to simulate 20 players playing 100,000 tournaments (with 22% paid poker tournament structure) compared to 100,000 Double Ups.  We used a 0% ROI for both game types, meaning on average in both contests types player results should be break even.  Both simulations were generated in $10 buy in games with a thousand person field. Here are the results of twenty simulations for each contest type.




WOW!  In the cash game sample the biggest winner and loser had won/lost around $10,000.  In the GPP sample this number was around $75,000.  As you can see the range of outcomes even over a large sample size is much greater in GPPs than in Cash Games.

We’ll now take a look at another sample.  This time we’ll use a 10% ROI, while keeping all other parameters the same.



In this simulation the average result for each simulation should be $100,000 profit.  You can see once again there’s a much greater difference in the standard deviation in outcomes of GPPs.

Taking the appropriate risk that your bankroll allows is very important so that you don’t lose your entire bankroll.  Seeing this data I’d encourage you to be very careful with the amount of exposure you give yourself to GPPs until your bankroll is sufficient.  Play around with the variance simulator to get an idea of how much you could lose in each game type.  Use this information to decide how much of your bankroll you’re willing to invest each day into DFS and specifically how much you’re willing to invest by contest type.

*** Please note that because the simulator used was a poker simulator it can not account for certain differences between DFS and poker.  Some of these differences include:

  • DFS can have players tie while in poker lacks this ability.
  • Pay out structures in DFS tournaments differ slightly from poker tournaments.

We still found this to be a very good estimation and a good representation of the variance in DFS game types.

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