What Strategies Might We See in the DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship?

The first-ever DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship (SBNC) hits New Jersey January 11-13, 2019. Deemed “the ultimate live sports betting event,” the event has a $10,000 buy-in, a $2.5 million guaranteed prize pool, and more than $1 million will be put in the winner’s pocket.

More than 30 players have already qualified for the event via DraftKings daily fantasy sports (DFS) play, and it is anticipated that many, many more will be buying in directly for $10,000. Whether you qualify via a satellite tournament or directly buy in for the five-figure price tag, this unique event presents a blank canvas for sports betting strategy.

How Does the DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship Work?

The rules for the event are pretty simple. Over the three days, entrants are allowed to bet any sport they want on Friday, January 11, and Saturday, January 12. On Sunday, January 13, however, the wagering is limited to only the two NFL playoffs games taking place that day. Although we don’t know their opponents just yet, we do know that the New England Patriots get the 1:05 p.m. ET game on Sunday and that the New Orleans Saints play at 4:40 p.m. ET.

Players have a $5,000 bankroll to start with and must place at least $1,000 in wagers by the close of betting on Saturday. On Sunday, SBNC competitors must place a minimum of $2,000 in wagers. Both of these requirements must be met in order for a contestant to be eligible to win leaderboard prizes.

At the end o all three days, the leaderboard will have players ranked by bankroll amount. The highest bankroll amount will win first place, the second highest will take second place, and so on.

There is only one entry allowed per player and all players take home their final bankroll at the end of the tournament.

Looking ahead to the days of the SBNC, there will be plenty available games to bet on for Friday and Saturday. Taking a quick glance at the schedules for some of the major sports, we can see that Friday brings four NHL games, six NCAA men’s basketball games, and nine NBA games. Saturday is even bigger, with the two NFL playoff games, eight NBA games, 12 NHL games, and then nearly 150 NCAA men’s basketball games.

Being Aggressive Early

With such a top-heavy payout structure that has a $650,000 difference between the $1 million first prize and $350,000 second prize (based on 531 entries or fewer), being aggressive early when you have more betting options available is one approach. One way to do this is through parlays using a “spray and pray” approach.

A SBNC contestant could fire a high volume of parlays that won’t require using up too much of one’s bankroll to hit a big score early. That said, the more bets that make up a parlay and the more long shots one includes, the harder it is to hit.

Going Contrarian

The way the schedule sets up will likely award contrarian bettors. Similarly to how ownership is talked about in DFS, you’re not going to want to have the same bets as everyone else on the early days. If you do and you win those bets, you’re not going to be any further ahead than when you started and there are only two games available to bet on for Sunday that limits your possibilities. Going contrarian early can very well be the play to set you apart from the competition.

One can also combine being aggressive and being contrarian into one strategy. Off-the-path parlays and long-shot prop bets will be great options to hit big and do it without the fear that others have placed the same bets. Of course, this combination of going aggressive and contrarian is risky, but with high risk can come high reward and there’s a $1 million first place available for the taking.

Propping Your Way To a Big Score

In addition to parlays, one way you can be aggressive and contrarian at the same time is through player prop bets. With so many options available for player prop bets, there’s a low probability you’ll be sharing a wager with others in the SBNC. Player prop bets can also have really big paydays when you start getting further and further down the rosters of various teams. With the big paydays that player props can offer, you won’t have to risk as much of your bankroll to get a big win.

One example can been seen by looking at the first-round NFL playoff matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. If you bet DeAndre Hopkins or T.Y. Hilton to score the first touchdown with the DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey, you’d be getting +550 and +850, respectively. Those are good paydays, but they’ll likely be popular and there are bigger payouts to be had, such as Chester Rogers at +3000, who will be a much more contrarian play. It is these types of contrarian player props that could get you started off in a big way.

Playing It as Safe as Possible

If you’re a SBNC contestant who qualified in for cheap via DraftKings, taking home as much of your $5,000 bankroll as you can may be your angle. If that’s the case, you can look to place wagers where you view the risk factor as very low. You certainly won’t earn the big paydays as parlays or long shots could give you, but you’d be padding your way to the $1,000 and $2,000 minimums in order to keep as much of your bankroll intact.

Teaser bets could be another option for the more risk-averse competitors, as they allow you to group a handful of bets together in similar fashion to a parlay, but you buy points in exchange for a much lower payout.

Swapping Action

If you’re familiar with the poker world, then you know that swapping action is commonplace among competitors in events such as a poker tournament. It can also take place in DFS. You each buy in for $10,000 and then exchange a percentage of one another, for example, 5%, to hopefully give yourself more opportunities to win. While you might not be taking home 100% of yourself if you win, you’re spreading out the bullets you’re firing for a better chance at picking up a piece of the target.

How To Approach the Final Day

The final day, Sunday, is going to be an interesting one. We’re likely going to see competitors entering the third and final day with remaining bankrolls of all levels. Some might be super low with $500 or so, some might be hovering right around the $5,000 they started with, and some could have run hotter than the sun and enter the last day with six figures. Knowing your place on the leaderboard can certainly affect how you play the final day, so be sure to stay in the know on the standings.

For those who enter the final day at the bottom of the leaderboard without much of a bankroll left, it might be best to go all out to try and finish in the money, so don’t be afraid to throw a Hail Mary. After all, would you rather go home with your remaining $500 bankroll or have a shot at cashing for $15,000 or more?

If your bankroll is right around where it started, you have a bigger decision on your hands. Do you want to take the ultra-conservative route to walk away with as much of your bankroll as possible or do you push even harder to make a big splash? This will likely depend on how you entered the contest, whether you qualified for a fraction of the entry cost or bought in directly for $10,000. Whichever the case, don’t forget to meet the $2,000 wager minimum.

For those at the very top of the leaderboard entering Sunday, it’s like a game of Final Jeopardy. Do you play it super safe to lock up the win? What will your opponents do? Ultimately, this might just come down to a math equation given there are only two available games to be bet on for Sunday.

Practice with the SharpSide Sports Betting App

Whether you’re competing in the DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship or not, the SharpSide sports-betting app, available now for iOS and Android, is the perfect way to sharpen your sports betting skills. With a state-of-the-art, interactive user interface, an extremely wide variety of available bets, and a completely free platform, the SharpSide sports-betting app allows you to make picks on everything from spreads to moneylines to player props. Download the app and start practicing today!

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