Similarities between Poker and Fantasy Sport

On the face of it, online poker and real money fantasy sports (or Daily Fantasy Sports – DFS) don’t have very much in common. One is a card game with lots of money wagered on it, and the other is a way people enjoy some competitiveness when watching sports. But the closer you look the more striking the similarities between the two games are.


The first similarity becomes obvious when you open up the lobby of the respective clients; for example, PokerStars and DraftKings. They look very alike and offer many similar games. For poker players making the transition to real money fantasy sports, they will immediately understand some of the language used, such as GPP or guaranteed prize pool.

Guaranteed prize pool tournaments is a big similarity between the two games: both offer tournaments where the prize pool, or total money up for grabs is guaranteed to be at least a certain amount, regardless of how many people enter the tournament. These tournament run every day but the best example in the poker world runs every Sunday and is called the Sunday Million. In the Sunday Million they guarantee $1million in prizes to the players that finish highest in the tournament.

Real money fantasy leagues have similar types of tournaments the most famous being the Millionaire Maker which only costs $27 to enter and could make one entrant a millionaire by the close of play. In this tournament players are allowed to enter as many teams as they like for $27 a time, this is also a feature seem on some poker sites for their tournaments. Allowing an individual to enter a tournament multiple times.

Draftkings for example is sponsoring the WPT because they know its the same tribe of people playing the game!


Rake is a term all poker players and fantasy sports players alike will understand. Many people not familiar with either game make look slightly confused at the mention of such a gardening implement in the context of such games. What rake is, is the cut of the entry cost that the host site takes as their “fee”. For example in a $215 poker tournament the poker site may take $15 out for themselves and put the other $200 into the prize pool of the tournament.

Sit and goes

Examining further and you can see that poker has a common variation called Sit’n’goes which bear a strong resemblance to head2head and double up leagues in real money fantasy sports. The skills involved in all of these games are very similar and allow poker players to come out on top frequently when transitioning to fantasy sports.


All the similarities mentioned up to now are similarities in the games offered and the interfaces used to play. But how does this actually give a poker player an advantage in the game? I touched on it briefly when mentioning sit’n’goes and leagues. The skill sets are very similar for both poker and real money fantasy sport.

Both formats have shorter games like leagues and sit’n’goes as well as longer tournaments. The objectives of both of these forms are very different. In a tournament all players are aiming to come first; that’s where all the big money can be won! Whereas in a double up league you just need to beat half your opponents to win money. After beating half the opponents the game is over.

This difference between the formats changes the way a player should approach the game. For example in a tournament you should take more risks in an attempt to win a lot and give yourself a better chance of coming first but when you just need to beat half the field you don’t want to take such risks, you want to play in a manner that just survives.

Picking that player in your fantasy team that is “go big or go home” or in other words will score you lots of points or none at all should rarely make it into a team when you are looking to survive. But in the big money tournaments like the millionaire maker it is a good idea to include that player occasionally. In poker the same applies but instead of risky players it’s playing speculative hands instead.

Knowing this now, it is easy to see how successful poker players are able to come to real money fantasy sports and win a lot of money straight away. They already have the skills!

Bankroll Management

Another key skill that successful poker players have is that they understand how to manage their financial risk or have good “bankroll management”. This is the skill that allows them to remain in the game for long period of time, even when things are not going in their favour. This is a skill that many recreational players of both fantast sports and poker do not fully understand. Again a skill that draws a similarity between the two games.

A Final Word

Having taken a short look into these two games it can now be seen that these apparently very different games are actually rather similar when broken down and the thrill and excitement of both games is what draws people to them in the first place.

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