By ADANAI staffTThe NFL season is here and while everyone loves to cheer for his or her favorite team, the real reason the NFL is so damn popular is that everyone has some sort of action. It may be as innocent as a small office pool or it may be a Floyd Mayweather style megabet. ADANAI provides you a little guidance on the different ways to get in on the action based on how much of a degenerate you are, your skill level and what your bankroll looks like.
Five ways to get in on the NFL action (extra credit for anyone that partakes in all five), in order from least tame to most dangerous:
1) Office pick’em pool
If you are looking to dip the proverbial toe in the water during the football season, this is the way to go. There was probably an email that went around your office asking if you want to join an office pool. If not, ask the guy in your office who looks like he played high school football as he probably is either running the pool or knows the person that is. Typically there is a small entry fee of something like $5/week and the person who picks the most games correctly each week wins a prize. In addition, the person who has the most cumulative games picked correctly wins a prize at the end of the season.
Degenerate level: Low – great way to bond with work colleagues and even if you don’t really like football it gives you a way to join in on the football water cooler talk on Monday morning.
Skill needed: Minimal, especially if picking against the spread as the winner each week in these pools is usually pretty random. There are stories of people picking based on favorite uniform winning these pools.
Bankroll: Small – your investment for the season is known upfront. There are high stakes pick’em pools out there like this one in Las Vegas but that should be left to the professionals.
2) Survivor pool
In this variant of the pick’em pool, everyone in the contest must pick one game a week with no spread. If you get your pick wrong, you are eliminated for the season. Each week the pool of survivors dwindles until one person is left standing. Sounds easy, right? Well, the nuance is that most survivor pools only allow you to pick each NFL team once during the season so serious strategery is needed. The upside to these pools is that if you win, you’ll typically win a lot of money. The downside to these pools is that you are not going to win. Professional handicappers can enter these for their entire career and never win them – you are better off playing the lottery.
Degenerate level: Low
Skill needed: A fair amount – lots of skill is needed with a ton of luck
Bankroll: Small again as typically one reasonable entry fee for season gets you in. Since these pools can get hundreds or even thousands of entrants, the winning prize can be significant.
3) Season Long Fantasy Football
In some ways the Cadillac of sports action, season long fantasy football is nirvana for the serious football fan. You draft a team of real players and your team’s performance is based on your players’ performance on the field. Generally, you do it with a league of friends or co-workers (that same high school football looking guy can likely get you in the office league as well). Your team scores points based on basic things like scoring TDs, rushing yards, receiving yards and passing yards. You go head to head with another team in your league each week and the highest score gets the W. At the end of the season, one team wins the championship and takes home the lion’s share of the prize pool. Season long fantasy football is a serious commitment as the draft takes several hours and each week you have to manage your team (set weekly lineup, add/drop players, etc). It also requires you to know a little bit about football if you want to have any chance of winning.
Degenerate level: High – winning fantasy football players can tell you the backup RB for most NFL teams. Other than in fantasy football, knowing the backup RB for the Jacksonville Jaguars is a completely useless piece of information.
Skill needed: Depends. If you are playing with novices who pick players because they are on their favorite team, it’s pretty easy. If others in your league are knowledgeable then you need serious skill on draft day and throughout the season with trades, lineup decisions and waiver pickups.
Bankroll: Many people play for free, most play for a nominal amount and a few play for nosebleed amounts. If you decide to do it, make sure you find a league that fits your bankroll.
4) Daily Fantasy Football
There is zero chance you have gotten this far into this article and haven’t heard of FanDuel or DraftKings. In fact, DraftKings is currently a top 5 advertiser nationwide (up there with Coke, McDonalds and AT&T – CRAZY) – their brand is everywhere. Daily fantasy has taken the sports world by storm. Imagine season long daily fantasy but each contest only lasts for one week of the season. And instead of playing in a league with friends, you enter a poker style tournament where one can turn $27 into $1 million! Each week you pick a lineup and your team performance is based on each player’s performance for that week only. There is a salary cap so you can’t just pick all studs – you have to find value players (low salary players who outperform their cost).
Degenerate level: Super high. While daily fantasy isn’t considered sports betting – the rush on game day is similar to a sports bet. Winning requires significant research and analytics.
Skill needed: The allure of the big win is attracting a wide range of skill levels but it is also attracting professionals who play daily fantasy for a living. Amateurs can play and may even finish in the money or bink an occasional win but the professional players are cleaning up.
Bankroll: To play consistently over the course of a season, it can cost real money. They have free and low stakes games, but that $1 million prize is likely to get you to pony up at least $27/week. Before you know it, those $200 entry tournaments start to look really juicy.
5) Sports betting
The purest form of action there is – the good old sports bet. In football, you can bet against the spread (e.g., betting the Steelers +7 means they will either win or lose by less than 7 points), play the over/under (betting on the total # of points scored in the game) or make a super fun prop bet (e.g., how long the national anthem will take or which player will score first in the game). The only problem is that unless you are in Nevada, you will be breaking the law. That being said, the illegal sports betting market in the US is around $160 billion/year so clearly these aren’t laws too many people are scared of. Once again, that high school football looking guy probably knows a guy that knows a guy that can get a bet in for you. In the good old days, the bookie would be the guy hanging around the local bar. Now, bookies have websites set up where bets can be made online, fully on credit.
Degenerate level: The highest.
Skill needed: Shockingly low. The spreads make it such that there are very few terrible bets – thus the genius of it as everyone feels like they can win their bet. The bookies do best when they have a balanced book so they try to get similar action on each side of every bet.
Bankroll: The most scary of the aforementioned ways of getting action as people can find themselves in serious financial trouble with traditional sports betting. Unfortunately for many, since the skill level is low, the real thrill comes from betting an uncomfortable amount of money. If you are going to sports bet, figure out an amount you are willing to lose in a season and only bet up to 1-2% of that amount on any given game.