Phil Galfond Launches New Daily Fantasy Sports Website
Phil Galfond, one of the world’s elite poker players, has announced the launch of his new Daily Fantasy Sports website called Draftboard. In a market dominated by DraftKings and FanDuel, Draftboard hopes to offer something a little different.
In a post on his Run It Once site Phil Galfond wrote
“DFS, unlike poker, allows for pros to enter additional lineups with no degradation in skill. In poker, I can try to play 30 tables, but at that point, I think any of you would be happy to play with me. It was silly how many times DFS pros could enter their lineups, and especially silly that they used to have no reason not to flick their lineup into a $1 contest along with their high-stakes contests.”
While Galfond can’t possibly expect to compete with DFS giants such as DraftKings to begin with, his plan to offer a fairer service should pay dividends to get the venture off the ground. Galfond said
“When you’re drafting a team and entering contests, the only opponents you should need to think about are the ones on the field. Fans have been up against some pretty steep odds in this industry. We’re giving them another option.”
Firstly, the lobby is segregated into two halves, splitting up rookie and veteran players.
“Draftboard features separate lobbies for Rookie ($1-$5) and Veteran ($10-$50) contests. You may only enter contests in one lobby on a given day for each sport.”
Also, to make the system fairer for players entering multiple times into one contest there is a unique rule in place.
“At game time, Draftboard places your entries into contests with randomly selected, unique opponents from the same contest type. The Fair Match system matches first entries against first entries, second versus second, and third versus third.”
Draftboard’s rivals run a software platform that has had some serious investment to make it shine to all possible customers, but Draftboard Live is going to show them the way with the flashiest in-play graphics in the industry. This high-level visual experience makes the whole experience much more exciting. The usual industry text updates are dry and not very engaging.
CEO Dan Quinn told how a DFS training site was the original idea, but once things had calmed down over at Run It Once, their poker training site, they decided to go down the operator route. Quinn said
“We had these two ideas (FairMatch and Live) that are pretty different. But we think they’re kind of game-changers in terms of making a site that is providing a more level playing field, and one that’s way more engaging from the end user’s perspective.”
Small Playing Field
For now, the only people eligible to play on Draftboard are residents of the USA and Canada, with many US states excluded. Licensing applications are still being processed in other areas, or they are waiting for the economic situation to improve.
For those looking to get involved, new sign-ups will be granted a free dollar to get started with. This will guarantee entry into a draw whenever the NFL score record is broken. For now, NFL is the only sport available, with the NBA season coming along soon to increase player options.
What About the Poker?
All this talk about Daily Fantasy Sports has made us take our eye off what is happening with the Run It Once poker site still in the works.
In September 2016 the poker community was greeted one morning with the news that Phil Galfond was in the process of starting up his own poker website. Known in the community as one of the good guys, Galfond looked to be taking advantage of all the bad press that Pokerstars had received in recent times. It was perfect timing.
But now, more than a year later, we find ourselves still waiting to see what he can offer. Pokerstars still controls more than 70% of the market share, with 888poker an easy second place. Could he even be having second thoughts? After all it’s a daunting task to think you can build a new platform and expect to compete against the main players in the early years. Online poker has matured to the point where the new boys have an almost impossible task to snare customers without a massive advertising budget.
Even Galfond’s high-profile image and reputable character isn’t going to bring in hundreds and thousands of new players who won’t have any idea who he is. The long post he wrote on his Run It Once forum was full of important points which experienced poker players would have lapped up.
“A Poker Site Should”
And then went on to highlight exactly what he thinks are the key details on looking after all customers in the poker industry.
“A poker site should value poker players.”
“It should value the casual player for the money he's willing to put on the line to play a game he loves. For choosing poker over other hobbies, and for choosing their site over other sites.“
“It should value the enthusiast and semi-professional for the liquidity they provide and for growing the game. For spreading the word, across different mediums, about their favorite site.”
“It should value the professional for embodying the dream that brings so many people to poker. For proving that poker is a game of skill. For promoting the game of poker to their fans, students, followers or subscribers.”
The above points describe the constant battle going on behind the scenes in any poker website. It is nigh on impossible to create an ecosystem which is sustainable, as well as keeping everybody happy.
At the end of September 2017 Galfond gave a brief update on the situation on Twitter, before appearing on Joey Ingram’s Pokerlife Podcast where he gave some more details. The long and short of it all was there is still no date to even begin beta testing, so nothing will happen for at least three months.
We wait with baited breath to see if this will ever get off the ground. It likely will, but what chance it has of growing into a market leader is another matter.