Fantasy footballers hoping for the playoffs this week are a lot like poker players trying to reach the money in the World Series of Poker main event.
That bubble can be brutal — and it can make good players make bad decisions.
In no-limit Texas Hold ‘em that comes in the form of some players folding every hand — even pocket aces — until they’re guaranteed to cash from the $10,000 buy-in, or doing the opposite and playing recklessly in hopes of building a nice stack of chips toward winning the title worth millions of dollars.
The truth players seem to forget? The decisions you make should be exactly the same whether you’re betting $10,000 or nothing but pride. And if you change things up when you’re close to the end, it shouldn’t be because of pressure — it should be a purposeful, strategic choice.
C.D. Carter, a fantasy writer who wrote a book comparing fantasy sports to poker, “How to Think Like a Fantasy Football Winner,” says it’s natural for even good fantasy players to get conservative at this point.
“Evaluation should be the same in Week 2 as it is in Week 13 and 14,” said Carter, who writes for XNSports.com (We’ll hear from him more below on waiver-wire streaming).
Evaluating things the same way is hard when you won’t have time to make up for a loss. But it’s the correct play and the way the card sharks do things.
Part of why Carter’s poker comparison works enough to fill a book is because cards and fantasy sports both require players to make decisions with limited information, then watch things play out among varying degrees of luck.
And just like in poker tournaments, where players respond many different ways to being on the cusp of making money, sometimes fantasy players see making the playoffs as good enough.
It’s OK if that’s your goal — titles aren’t always possible. But like in poker and other games, playing scared in fantasy rarely leads to the best decisions.