We have all seen the ads. You can’t watch sports on television without being assaulted by advertising for fantasy sports leagues.
You know: “Bet $10 and win 10s of thousands.”
Sunday, I gave in to the temptation, logged onto FanDuel, one of the two primary sites that allow single-day fantasy games. The outcome rides on real statistics from real players playing in real games.
After that is pure fantasy.
I created a FanDuel account Sunday morning and put $25 in it.
Then, I signed up for a FanDuel tournament in what is called a “Rookie 50/50 League.” What that means is half the 100 players will win something, while the other half will lose. It cost $10 to play in that game and the prize pool is $900. If you do the math, FanDuel takes 10 percent off the top in this game. You have to pay for all those ads somehow.
Now all I needed was players. You have to pick a quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a defense.
You get a budget. FanDuel assigns a value to each player, and you pick a team that fits your budget. That’s the process in a nutshell.
And I fell into the trap I am sure many people fall into when they put their money at risk. I went with players I knew or players on the Atlanta Falcons — the team I follow most closely.
My quarterback was Carolina’s Cam Newton. I had two Falcon players, wide receiver Julio Jones and kicker Matt Bryant. I also had the Falcon defense. I also took former Georgia and current Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green.
Going into the Monday night game, I had 93.8 points based on the statistics my players put up Sunday. Newton didn’t play until Monday, so there was still a chance to improve on that, but don’t hold your breath.
That said, I was 73rd out of the 100 in my league. That ain’t going to buy mama new shoes — or any shoes at all for that matter.
As you move into these games, there’s another catch. Once you get into the site, you get options to enter more tournaments with higher payouts — pure eye candy. By the time the 1 p.m. games kicked off Sunday, my entire $25 was at risk and I was in three games with the same team I selected.
This is where — best I can tell — a sucker gets taken to the cleaners.
I signed up for a $10 game that had 22,727 players and a $200,000 prize pool. Going into the Monday Night game, I was in 17,176th place. That $10 is likely gone, but FanDuel makes $27,270. The last game was the $2 million Sunday NFL Rush. There were 284,229 players going after a $2 million prize pool and $150,000 first place award. By my count, FanDuel pockets $284,290.
Now, you are starting to see why Republican presidential candidates were asked last week about regulating these games. This is where skill meets luck, kind of like the stock market, which is regulated.
This is an unregulated, big-bucks industry.
Guys like me on Sunday were the mark. You got professionals playing hundreds of teams in these big-money pools. The guy like me did not stand much of a chance. And when you look at the math, there were a lot of guys out there like me.
A Facebook friend offered to help the next time I thought it was a good idea to play one of these games.
“Next time just send me your $25,” he posted, “and I’ll lose it for you.”
That was the best advice I got all day.