Thursday, Sep 23rd

Inside Hilow’s DFS Mind


In this Q&A series, we’ll take you inside the minds of our DFS analysts at One Week Season! Consuming content such as this can help you gain a much deeper understanding of what you’re getting right (and what you can be improving) in your DFS play!

Greatest DFS memory (Loss/Win) – What did you learn?

Two part answer here:

My greatest win was actually in MLB DFS in the 2018 season. Different animal, but a lot of similarities. It was a Sunday slate (smaller slate) and the Cubs were sitting a bunch of their typical starters in a tough matchup. I hadn’t started my journey into Game Theory at that point, but I knew they would be low owned with a handful of starters resting in a tough matchup, so I stacked it up (not fully understanding the reasoning behind it just yet, but knowing there was leverage there). Cubbies went on to destroy the slate, and all three of my one-offs went yard. I ended up taking down the GPP. That was where I began my journey into understanding Game Theory and leverage and all the things I discuss in my course (Note from JM :: First five lessons are free! That’s free training in this massively valuable area). I took in everything I could: from Ivy League journals, to papers and video lessons, to scouring the internet and reading excerpts from the original Game Theory studies in the 1940s.

My greatest loss was actually this past year, for different reasons than you’d think. I was crushing SE/3-Max through half the season, with three top 10 finishes in the Power Sweep ($150 3-max). Davis Mattek and I got into what we’ll call a “heated discussion” on Twitter, which materialized into weekly H2Hs. It started at the $50 level and ramped up to $530 level. I beat him three weeks in a row on main slate. I then found myself staring at a $1000 H2H that he had offered the following week, knowing full well it would put a nice little dent into my bankroll (I cash out following the NFL season and start from scratch the following year; just something I’ve always done so I don’t overstretch my means). I had the worst week of the year that week: I lost to Davis and didn’t even cash the Power Sweep or Spy ($100 SE), and my yearly bankroll was crushed. I finished out the year on my standard 70-80% cash rate in SE/3-Max, but that hole remained. It taught me to never feel invincible, and the variance associated with DFS forces you to maintain a level head and solid bankroll management every single week.

Describe a moment when a part of your DFS game clicked?

I didn’t truly take my DFS game to the next level until before the 2019 NFL season. I was a +EV player since 2013, but I never had put myself in position to actually take any GPP down, and I was horrid at contest selection (chasing the dream with 5-10 shots in the Milly Maker each week, which is probably the most –EV contest on any site if you’re not playing it right). I had a lot go on in my personal life between 2014-2017 (a combat deployment in 2014, during which I was diagnosed with cancer in Bahrain, birth of my first two children, a second combat deployment in 2017, and the birth of my third child), where I grew immensely. I read everything I could on personal development during those years, and what I found was it made me a better DFS player! After that 2018 MLB hit, I started digesting everything I could on Game Theory, as I firmly believed it was an area of direct application to DFS that hadn’t been mastered by many, let alone talked about much. With all the information readily available today, DFS players (as a whole) have become better, so I was searching for a tangible edge that nobody was utilizing or discussing. Alas, here we are.

When did you discover your unique angle?

I tinkered with Game Theory application throughout the 2018 season, but the light bulb didn’t truly come on until the end of the year. I utilized Game Theory heavily in 2019 and approached JM about writing a playoff contest article for OWS (found on FFPC) about the edge we could gain in a contest format where it is very evident where ownership will flow and what rosters will look like. I spent this offseason digesting even more on Game Theory (even attended virtual recorded classes from Yale and Harvard) to really home in on the craft. I took everything I had learned, merged it with Economical Game Theory and Game Theory Optimal (I have played poker since I was 14; I created an online account under my dad’s name and took down my first ever multi-table, a $2 re-buy, for $1500. Check came in the mail addressed to my dad and I was greeted with “Son, we need to talk” when I got home from school). Over the past year or so I’ve developed the ideas I had learned, taking into account the different areas of Game Theory I had studied, and threw all the ideas into one course, available now in the Marketplace!

How do you deal with your DFS Psych?

This was an area I struggled with immensely, honestly, until I started taking personal development seriously (I have my wife to thank for that! She recommended a few books for me to read during my first deployment in 2014, and I was hooked after that!). I now use Mondays to look back on the decisions I made throughout the previous week, and am always analyzing and critiquing my thought process throughout the week, trying to find any angles I missed or thoughts I “should have” considered. For example, I found a hole in my thought process for Week 1 this year, in that I almost had completely written off Adam Thielen the entire week because I was so focused on Dalvin Cook (if I had to go back and do it again, I would have likely played Dalvin on two lineups and created a third using Thielen – I was sold on only two lineups this week so I only played two). I figured the likeliest scenario for the MIN/GB game would be both teams keeping the ball on the ground for as long as possible, but GB really opened that game up in a hurry and I didn’t account for that. A bit long winded here… but bottom line, it’s highly important to adopt a “process over results” mindset in DFS because of the variance associated with the game itself.

Explain your tourney selection strategy any given week?

Full disclosure, I haven’t mastered MME to this point. I’ve found my niche in SE/3-Max and hammer that edge each week. I don’t play cash, because I feel the edge is greater for my particular skill set in SE-/3-Max GPPs, so I now play entirely those. Similar to what X mentioned in his writeup: find what you’re good at and exploit that edge to the max extent practical. 

Do you have a favorite Tourney?  And Why?

Based on my bankroll and edge I feel I have in SE/3-Max; I love the flat payouts of the $150 3-Max (Power Sweep) and $100 SE (Spy). I use those GPPs instead of playing cash (I found that I could cash SE/3-Max at the same rate I was cashing in cash games, but with those GPPs in particular, I was cashing at the same rate yet still giving myself a chance at a large payday each week). 

What is your goal this year? (DFS or Personal)

This year I set a goal for myself to take down both the Spy and Power Sweep.

What part of your DFS game do you want to improve?

I’m going to spend this year continuing to tweak my Game Theory process, as well as leverage all the excellent content available on OWS to improve my MME game (X and Sonic are masters in this area, so if that’s your niche and you haven’t yet checked out their courses, I highly recommend you do so!).

Anything else you want to add?

I’d like to see screenshots in Discord every week of those I have helped with my weekly Game Theory article as well as my Game Theory Course! (Note from JM :: If you’re reading this Week 3 :: Check Discord!!! We’ve shouted out a bunch of you by pinning your screenshots. Unsurprisingly: lots of Hilow love in there!)

Want More Hilow In Your Life?

From JM :: It’s not as if I need to tell you how sharp Hilow is. You’ve seen it yourself; and you’ve likely profited from it already! But if you haven’t read the first five lessons (there are 10 lessons in all) of his Game Theory course…I mean, what are you even doing? This is mic-drop levels of free value.