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Have you been considering signing up for a weekly fantasy football site like Draft Kings or FanDuel, but aren’t exactly sure how they work? If you are, you’re hardly alone. Advertisements for weekly fantasy football (sometime called, daily fantasy sports or DFS) are everywhere this season offering promises of million dollar payouts and over-the-top bonuses. Resisting these offers can be tough, but the prospect of learning a new game - especially when you’re already in deep with your traditional FF league - can be daunting. Fortunately, signing on with a weekly fantasy site and managing your tournaments once you’re in is incredibly easy.
We recently took a complete DFS virgin, gave him some cash to get started with Fan Duel to see what happened and share his experiences with other new players. Here’s what we learned.
There’s a fair amount of confusion about why DFF sites like Fan Duel are legal in the United States while traditional sports betting is illegal everywhere but Nevada. The answer to that question is pretty simple (though the politics behind it are pretty sloppy). In short, lawmakers have decided that fantasy football is a game of skill, like poker. Playing games of skill for money is perfectly legal in the United States. Sports betting, on the other hand, is somehow considered a game of chance - like craps - and is not currently legal under US Federal law.
That said, there are a few states, including Montana, Louisiana, Washington, Iowa, and Arizona where DFS for money is not allowed under state law.
Registering a new Fan Duel account is dead easy and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. If you’ve registered for anything in your entire life, you should have no problem setting up a Fan Duel account.
This is the part that makes most new weekly fantasy sports players nervous but it’s another piece that’s dead easy to execute. Both Fan Duel and DraftKings offer a huge array of options for funding your account, including most major credit and debit cards, as well as electronic options like PayPal. And if you’re worrying about the credibility of these two sites, rest easy. Both Fan Duel and DraftKings are massive, legitimate sites that are looking at long term domination of the international DFS industry. These two sites are completely legitimate, with offices and accountability throughout the United States.
In short, Fan Duel and DraftKings are not some fly-by-night offshore operations that are going to run off with your credit card data in the middle of the night.
Once you’re registered and funded your account, you’re ready to find a tournament. Due to DFS’s incredible popularity, this could actually take some time. We strongly urge beginners to start out with a free tournament or, at the very least, a tournament with a low entry fee. This gives you a chance to get a feel for the game, without having too much skin in the game. There’s no shortage of 50/50 tournaments (tournaments that payout players who finish in the top half the game) that can be entered for only a dollar. This is a perfect opportunity for beginners to experience real play, without getting in too deeply.
We also suggest sticking to larger 50/50 tournaments (some can include hundreds of players) and avoiding head-to-head match ups until you’ve developed a feel for the site. There are lots of sharks in the DFS world and they’re more than happy to take advantage of new players whenever they get the opportunity. So if you do enter a head-to-head contest that says, “New Players Welcome,” be sure and check the person’s win/loss record. You might find that friendly player is actually very experienced and not someone you want to take on at all.
Once you've registered, funded your account, and picked a tournament, you're ready to start selecting your teams and, with any luck, winning some cash.