Mike Watson: “People Make a Living Grinding Fantasy Sports”

Mike Watson
Poker pro Mike Watson

Scroll through a twitter feed of poker players and you will no doubt be bombarded with tweets about fantasy sports.

You know it’s getting popular when there are almost as many fantasy sports related bad beat stories as poker bad beats. 

One of the many prominent poker players who loves fantasy sports is Canada’s Mike Watson

“Most poker players, I think, grew up with a competitive background in sports, or whatever,” Watson said.

“I think the competition is why we play poker. So if you already love sports and love gambling, it’s an easy fit.”

Millions Up for Grabs in Fantasy Sports

Mike Watson

Fantasy sports have been around a long time and while friendly wagers in home leagues have always been prevalent, it is only over the last couple of years that online buy-in ‘Daily Fantasy Sports’ have burst onto the scene.

When PokerListings spoke to Watson, one of the major sites, DraftKings, was in the middle of hosting the largest-ever Daily Fantasy Sports event.  

The $27 buy-in event centred on the NFL featured 92,400 fantasy sports teams and a total prize pool of $2.2 million. First place was a guaranteed $1 million.

Those numbers are comparable to some of the largest online poker tournaments ever held.

A large portion of those playing the massive event are likely a similar demographic to those that play online poker. Watson seems to think there is an obvious cross-over between the games.

Canadian Mike Watson on Canada Day

Crossover Between Fantasy Sports and Poker

“There are certainly quite a few similarities,” Watson said. “Definitely a lot of bankroll management and similar understanding of basic concepts.

“They are obviously different games, but if you have the mind, I guess, to think about poker, then you should be able to make the transition over from poker to the fantasy sports.”

Watson himself has been putting a lot of hours into fantasy sports. It is perhaps in this sense that online poker and fantasy sports bare the closest resemblance.

“In a lot of ways the study and research you put into fantasy sports is similar to coming up through poker and learning poker,” Watson said.

“You know, you play every week, you put in a lot of research every week, you are thinking about lots of different ideas and concepts, and different techniques you could employ.”

No Stigma When Grinding Fantasy Sports

Mike Watson

It’s interesting to note that buy-in fantasy sports sites don’t seem to have the same stigma that online poker sometimes does in North America.

“I guess because fantasy sports doesn’t originally have a gambling background as much, it doesn’t have the same stigma that poker did in the beginning,” Watson said.

If daily fantasy sports has very little stigma, is widely available and legal, there is no way of knowing just how much potential there is for continued growth in that industry.

Daily fantasy sports may even grow in the same way that online poker grew after the beginning of the boom in 2003.

Watson has already seen how players are studying fantasy sports, improving their games and effectively becoming pros.

“It seems like there are a lot of people who are doing well grinding fantasy sports,” Watson said. “I know a few friends and people who are making their living doing it now.”

“It seems like the edges are very small and you have to deal with a lot of swings. But if you are willing to put in the hours and be smart with your money, and you have some luck on your side, it seems like something that you could make a living at.”

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