Recapping a Successful 2021, and Looking Forward to 2022
A brief look at how I performed in 2021, with some 2022 goals.
Around this time last year, I was extremely proud to detail my growth as a DFS player and, mostly, sports bettor. For those who forget — or did not read — I went from self-excluding in 2019 to over 7x-ing my bankroll in 2020, after starting again with around $1300 to play with.
Transparency has always been something that’s important to me, but I have to admit I’ve delayed writing this post because I’m not sure when the boundary crosses from transparent to braggadocious, or maybe just generally too much information. Because it was a better year than I could have ever imagined in 2021.
When I started this journey two years ago, I never really expected to 40x my initial investment (this number is going to come down a good bit once Uncle Sam gets his cut), and feel incredibly thankful to be in this position. I didn’t bink any tournaments or anything, but had a major score by joining NBA Topshot in January.
As you can see, Topshot represented roughly 45% of my total profits in 2021. The journey overall was a bit of a roller-coaster, and I definitely left plenty of money on the table with a variety of mistakes, but now that the dust is settled it’s difficult to look back and not be pleased.
I mean, I turned a bunch of NBA highlights into (hopefully) a down-payment for a house. That’s a life W even if it wasn’t maximum EV.
On the sports betting and fantasy side, these were the markets I invested the most into in 2021.
Basketball and football are where most of my action goes. I played the NBA Draft very aggressively this summer, and being a daily sport it offers a lot more wagering opportunities in-season. Being a part of the team at Establish the Run for NBA and NFL props also helped a lot to improve my process and find more +EV wagers.
I got back into playing NFL DFS with decent volume over the final couple of months of the season. Basically once my coaching season ended I was able to commit more time to it. It’s definitely more work for me than betting — especially since I have to be available at certain times to play effectively — but I enjoy the strategy element a good bit, and can take some shots to really boost my roll.
College football is the one market on this list that I find myself in the red on, but it also encompassed my worst beat of the year (and was for about a third of the total amount I got down for CFB).
Overall I feel really good about my process and bankroll management. Despite the gains, I have been an extreme nit with how much I get down on each wager. I didn’t bump up from $50 units to $100 units until the end of October, meaning my average wager is currently worth a quarter of a percent of my bankroll or less.
I like operating this way to avoid my risk of ruin, and it is way better for my mental health to avoid risking large amounts of real money at any one time — even if it makes sense percentage-wise from my bankroll. I also think that since the majority of my action is in props, keeping my amounts low is the best chance I have to continue to be allowed to bet.
I’m not anticipating another Topshot-type of opportunity to come this year, but I’ve now had enough success gambling that I’d like it to remain a regular part of my income. It is definitely a shift in mindset to go from “I can’t believe I did this well” to it becoming the expectation — maybe it’s too much pressure — but I think that even if I can’t match my 2021 results, it is likely that this hobby can remain profitable.
Of course, the big rub is that I’m not quite positive if/how much this can scale, and I know that it can’t last forever. Even with $100 units, I would expect most books to limit me pretty aggressively on props on a long enough timeline. Being in New Jersey affords me the opportunity to have a bunch of different accounts, so that should keep me alive as long as possible, but then I’d be losing out on shopping opportunities if enough books gave me the boot.
That is probably some time away, but I’m always thinking about what that might look like, and what could come next. The books could also get way better at sharpening the lines. In the NFL, I felt like the playoff prop lines were the most efficient we’ve seen all year. Of course, that is easier to do with fewer games, and I think there will still always be an edge. It’s just a matter of how much, both within individual bets and in the raw number of available ones.
Anyway, that’s a bit of a ramble I suppose, but my brain does that. Let’s talk goals. Last year, I wanted to go harder in best ball, but I didn’t really end up doing it. I also had a pretty poor year of best ball overall (-46.6%, tournaments only).
This year I’d like to get to 150 entries or more in the $5 tournaments on Underdog, in addition to maxing out the lower-stakes stuff on DK. But I’d like to inject more randomization to my process. This year I was way too concentrated on a bunch of players. Next year my plan is to basically build stacks, optimize roster construction, and randomize every other pick. I’ll have to flesh that idea out more, but I think conceptually it makes sense.
I’d also like to play more DFS. I picked things up a lot down the stretch of NFL, and I’m going to try to work on my showdown game a little in the playoffs. Then I may get back into PGA or NHL once the season is over, and would like to play some more MLB this spring. Generally speaking, I just want to continue to evolve as a fantasy player, and put myself in position for some big scores.
The biggest thing that complicates that for me is the draft, because I will be going hard both at prospect-based content as well as betting — and that definitely takes priority for me.
A related goal there would be to take some equally-heavy stances on NFL Draft props as I did during the summer with NBA. Last year my total NFL Draft volume was high, but I pretty much bet everything the same. This year I want to try and maximize my edge on the props I am most confident on.
I’m not completely positive what 2022 will bring, but am pleased and fortunate with all that transpired in 2021. Here’s to another great year!