“So, you want to qualify for a live final?”
Quick show of hands. Who’s interested in qualifying for a live final? Wow! It looks like there are a lot of you out there. I’ll give those of you that didn’t raise your hand a chance to reconsider because, trust me, you’re interested in qualifying for a live final. Over the years, I’ve been to my fair share of life finals (currently nine and counting), so I feel like I might know a thing or two when it comes to qualifying. If last year is any indication, this will be a huge NFL season for the Elite Fantasy family. Now, I love to get my “Scrooge McDuck on” each week as much as the next guy, but what better way to top off a great NFL season than with a trip to a live final? To borrow a line from my favorite “Golden Girl”, “Picture it. Miami, Florida. December 2017. You spend four days being treated like royalty, rubbing shoulders with the best of the best in DFS. The drinks are flowing, the music’s playing and the food is top-notch. All part of an all-expense paid trip with the bonus of getting a shot to take down one of this year’s NFL live finals!” Yeah, I see those hands going up now. I can honestly say that attending a live final never gets old and is something you’ll never forget. Some of you are saying, “This sounds great RadThad, but I’m just your regular, everyday DFS player. There’s no way I’ll make it to a live final.” Well, that’s why I’m here. I consider myself a regular everyday DFS player too, just one that’s been to a bunch of life finals. My method isn’t foolproof, but with a little guidance, you’ll find yourself in a much better position than those who didn’t read the article.
“A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and so is a bankroll.”
Now that I’ve touted live finals as the best thing since sliced bread, I must tell you that getting there won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination. Chasing qualifiers is a surefire way to kill your bankroll. I’m talking dead. Not the “passing peacefully in your sleep” dead, but the “eyes still open, blood trickling from the mouth” dead. You DO NOT want to try to make it to a live final at the risk of depleting your hard-earned bankroll. Don’t get me wrong, life finals are awesome, but they’re not THAT awesome. You need to have a plan in place once you decide to add qualifying to your goals. Trying to do it on the fly simply doesn’t work. You’ll end up with an extended stay in the “box of shame,” and I can tell you firsthand, that is not someplace you want to be.
There are a couple of ways to limit the damage to your bankroll when trying to take down a qualifier. One strategy is to give yourself a preset amount that you’re willing to spend on qualifier entries for the season. Once this amount of your bankroll is gone, you back away and live to fight another day, or season. You know what I mean. This strategy requires a lot of discipline. It works very well for some, but for me? Not so much. I like to think that I’m incredibly disciplined, until it’s time to put it into play. I’m sure many of you can relate.
Another effective strategy is to make yourself “earn” the right to enter a qualifier based on a successful week in cash games. It’s as simple as it sounds. If you don’t reach a certain goal in cash games that can cover any qualifier entries, you simply can’t enter the qualifier. This is another method that requires a bit of discipline, but it’s much easier to implement on a weekly basis.
I personally prefer the strategy that I have come to affectionately refer to as the “pimp my qualifier” strategy, a.k.a. “the qualifier to the qualifier.” That’s when you focus on contests that reward you with tickets to more expensive qualifiers. If you don’t win a ticket to the qualifier, then it’s, “No qualifier for you!” This works out well for me, because there are usually a ton of those contests on any given slate and there’s usually lots of overlay. Many of these contests reward multiple tickets, so you don’t need to have the “nuts” lineup to win. Another great thing about these contests is they usually cross over to multiple sports, so you can win a ticket for the NFL qualifier by playing MLB (or vice versa). Don’t even talk about when multiple DFS sports are going on at the same time. You can find yourself with more tickets than you know what to do with, literally. Whenever you see me in a qualifier, there’s an excellent chance that I won my spot at a bargain price.
“This isn’t your father’s qualifier.”
Back in the day, qualifiers were all the same (okay, maybe not ALL the same, but I’m trying to prove a point so humor me). If you wanted to take a shot at making it to a live final, you had to put up or shut up. You were risking a decent chunk of your daily bankroll and going up against the best DFS players in the business. These days, qualifiers come in all shapes and sizes. The sites are trying to give everyone a chance to qualify so you can find contests with entry fees that range from “penny savers” to “instant bankroll killers.” I think it’s crucial for players to have access to low-cost qualifiers (I’ll keep my soapbox tucked away for another day), but I personally focus more on the size of the contest, as opposed to the entry fee. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enter the low-cost qualifiers, but the number of entries you must beat can be staggering. I focus on the mid-range qualifiers (depending on the site). The number of participants tends to be much less than the mega qualifiers and the number of maximum entries makes it more manageable for me to come up with competitive lineups. I can enter these qualifiers, regularly, without worrying about my bankroll, especially since I’m working on getting my entries via the “pimp my qualifier” strategy.
“Why buy big boy pants when you can rent them?”
I know your arms are getting a little bit tired but another quick show of hands. How many of you own a tuxedo (or “tuxedo equivalent” for the lovely ladies out there)? If you raised your hand, that means you’re either over the age of 45, or you have more money than you know what to do with it. I don’t wear a tuxedo very often, so like most folks, I simply rent one when needed. The same thing can be said for “big boy pants.” “Big boy pants” are those smooth fitting trousers you put on before entering those high-priced qualifiers (if I remember correctly, DraftKings has a $5,300 entry fee, Fantasy Football World Championship Q running this weekend). I used to own a pair, but they got too tight and started cutting off circulation to my bankroll. By the time I finished altering them, they looked like a pair of Daisy Dukes. I think they’re in a box upstairs with some of my old school DraftStreet paraphernalia. You may think these contests are out of your league, but they’re the best way to secure your spot in a live final. The number of competing entries is low, and you stand the best chance of winning without needing to roster John Kuhn at 0.1% ownership when he vultures two touchdowns on three rushing attempts against San Diego (yes, I’m still pissed). Anyway, when you use the pimp my qualifier strategy, you can win an entry and basically rent a pair of big boy pants without needing to buy a pair.
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
I’ll be taking multiple shots at qualifying for the Fantasy Football Championship live finals on FanDuel and DraftKings, but I’ve had a lot of success when it comes to qualifying on the so-called “smaller” sites (I hate using that term). Fantasy Draft has an NFL live final and is an excellent opportunity for regular everyday DFS players like you and me to make it to a live final. The playing field is much more level, in my humble opinion; the seat value is insane ($88,333.33)! To their credit, FanDuel and DraftKings have made significant strides when it comes to their qualifiers. Have you ever seen “Sharknado?” Well, it wasn’t that bad, but what I’m trying to say is there were a lot of “sharks.” Today’s qualifier ecosystem is much more balanced. There are still a lot of shark infested waters out there, so if you’re not careful, you’re “gonna need a bigger boat.”
Well y’all, that’s it for now. I hope this helps you on your way to making it to a live final this season. If all goes well, we will be there together. I’ll be the handsome son of a gun in the front holding the giant check!