DraftKings Drastically Lowers Entry Fee for $1 Million NFL Pick’em Contest

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There’s a little razzle-dazzle, there are a few adjustments and, bam, DraftKings has unfurled a new look to a $1 million season-long NFL Pick’Em Pool Contest for 2022.

This one, located in the Pools section of the sports betting app, has a $250 entry fee, down from the $1,500 required last year.

Otherwise, much of it is the same for the season that kicks off September 8.

Bet the NFL at DraftKings: $50 Free Bet + $1,000 Deposit Bonus

A contestant picks five NFL games against the spread each week. Each correct selection counts as one point.

To correlate with five picks, here are five points about the contest, along with an overview from Johnny Avello, director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings.

DraftKings NFL Contest Money Breakdown

The top 135 places will be paid.

  • The winner receives $250,000
  • Second place gets $125,000
  • Third is $100,000
  • Fourth place is worth $75,000
  • Fifth is worth $62,500

Other milestones:

  • 10th is good for $18,800
  • 20th earns $3,550
  • Finishing 50th is worth $1,800.
  • Coming in 100th is $1,000
  • Finishing 135th counts for $600

The contest is offered in 12 of the 18 states DraftKings operates in, including, for the first time, New York. The book needs 4,000 customers to sign up in order to at least break even.

DraftKings Pick’Em Pool Takes Unique Market Perspective

Many gaming innovations, especially in the slots realm, offer increased jackpots in an effort to command higher entry fees.

This is the opposite. DraftKings reduced the entry fee in order to find more customers.

“A lot of people want to play in contests, but not for $1,500,” Avello told Gaming Today. “That number feels a little too steep for them. Many players also feel that at that number, they are going up against pros. Here, we have more users engaged.

“What many people will like about a contest like this is there is still a lot of money to be won, but not a lot that has to be put up. (Less than $15 a week).

“We are also figuring this does well because people start talking about it in late July as opposed to last year, when it was put up later, and we were not in too many states.”.

One Bye, No Ties

Contestants will pick 80 games total, five from 16 different weeks. They will have a bye or “skip” week of their choosing, whenever there is nothing they like.

Week 18 is not included in the contest.

“There are times during the NFL season that you are not going to like much,” Avello noted. “It’s going to be like throwing darts. This allows you to skip one week. How you use that is going to be important.

“As far as the last week of the season goes, we have found that sometimes those games matter and many times they don’t. You don’t really know who is going to be playing.”

Spreads will be set in half points, therefore no individual games can end in a tie.

Other Rules, Parameters, and Strategy

When to utilize the bye will be a significant strategic point. It may be wise to take a week when four teams have bye weeks (6, 7, 10, 11) or when six teams are off (9, 14). It’s hard to like five games against the spread in a full NFL schedule, let alone a reduced one.

One person can play up to 10 entries.

A player who likes a game that starts before Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET kickoffs (Thursday games or early Sunday games from London) can pull the trigger before it kicks off.  For all other games, picks lock at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, meaning the value of a Sunday night or Monday night game must be weighed carefully, because it must be selected comparatively early.

And while players love to grab late injury reports before finalizing some selections, Avello advised against waiting too long.

“If you don’t know who you like an hour before the game starts, you could be putting yourself in a tight spot,” Avello said.

Yes, players love late-breaking injury reports, and that may help decide whether to bet an individual game at the last minute. But in a weekly contest, one may wish to have a more clear-cut passion before choosing a game to be among their top five.

What Win Percentage Will Cash in DraftKings’ NFL Contest?

Avello estimates that picking three winners of five each week should keep a player in the hunt for a collection.

“You don’t have to be an elite handicapper,” Avello said. “Yeah, last year’s winner had something like 72%, which was terrific. But if you are at 60%, that would mean 48 (winning) selections, I think you at least have a good shot for the $600 (at 135th).

“What you have to avoid is the 1-4 or 0-5 weeks. They are hard to recover from. But even 2-3 is not bad, because if you go 4-1 the next week you still have 6 out of 10.

“If you are only 50%, I don’t think there’s much chance to collect.”

There are not tiebreakers.

If two players end up tied for the championship, they split first and second-place money. In this case, that would mean $375,000 total or $187,500 apiece.

Players can check competitors’ picks after everything is unlocked. This gives them a chance to follow the contest, but not the right to see other people’s picks (and perhaps adjust their own) in advance.

When the Book Takes A Hit

Across several decades as a table-games dealer, brick-and-mortar executive, and now a nationwide operator for DraftKings, Avello believes books must do right by customers, at all costs.

That was evident last year, when an infrastructure problem put the skids on a nationwide contest DraftKings was holding in New Jersey. The idea was to crown a national champion from players putting up $10,000 apiece.

But on the first day of the contest, some contestants had their bets limited and others could not get bets down at all because of technical issues.

The next day, DraftKings made everybody whole. Scores of bettors received a $10,000 rebate, announced the following morning, right in the middle of the contest.

“It was painful,” Avello said, “but it was the right thing to do. Sometimes that’s the cost of doing business. That contest ended up being a loser for us, but all we could do was revamp the strategy for what we do this year.”

This followed the controversy that marred DraftKings’ 2019 National Sports Betting Contest, where professional bettor Rufus Peabody had a legitimate claim that he was robbed of the win,

“The national contest is not coming back this year,” Avello said.

Another incident revealing a customer-first policy occurred last Sunday, in NASCAR.

Denny Hamlin apparently won the M&M Fan Appreciation 400, with Kyle Busch second and Chase Elliott third.

But Hamlin’s and Busch’s vehicles both failed post-race inspections. Elliott was declared the winner despite never leading for a lap.

According to DraftKings rules, the book paid both Hamlin and Elliott tickets. It paid Hamlin once the unofficial results were released, and Elliott after he got put up. DraftKings was the only major book reported to have paid both sides.

“Most rules are designed to protect the house,” Avello said. “Our rules designed to protect the customer.”

Register to wager: DraftKings offers $1,050 in sign-up bonuses 

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a multiple award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970’s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. He has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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