If you’re a near break-even daily fantasy sports player, paying close attention to rake (the fee or commission taken from the total entry fees before the site pays the prizes) and bonuses can make a big difference in whether you’ll be profitable or not. In that regard, daily fantasy LCS is no different than other daily fantasy sports. If you can save even a few percent per entry, that’s a big deal – especially when you consider the effects of compounding profits.
Before I get into the details of the bonuses offered and the rake structure on AlphaDraft and Vulcun (invite code: profantasy3), it’s worth mentioning that I don’t believe that bonuses and rake are the only thing that will impact your profitability on each site. Over time, there are reasons why one site or another may have tougher competition, formats that give more skillful players a greater edge, or opportunities for overlay (where contests with guaranteed prize pools don’t fill completely). You’ll need to balance all of those when judging your likelihood of making money on each site.
AlphaDraft is the simpler site when it comes to deposit bonuses and rake. When you first deposit, they’ll give you a 100% matching bonus up to $25. So if you deposit $25 or more the first time you deposit, they’ll give you another $25. You can’t withdraw the bonus, but you can use it immediately to enter contests. That’s a great deal! Most daily fantasy sports sites ‘release’ bonus at a rate of 4%, meaning that you only can actually use $1 of your bonus for every $25 of contest that you enter. At that rate, you’d need to enter $625 of contests to collect your full $25 of bonus. On AlphaDraft, it’s immediately available to you.
AlphaDraft is very consistent when it comes to rake. All contests are raked at 10% or just barely less than that. I haven’t really found any exceptions so far, so you can basically enter whatever you want on AlphaDraft without needing to pay much attention to the rake.
If you do want to calculate rake, there are a couple of common mistakes to avoid. The first is that you should be determining rake based on the total prize pool and total entry fees. Don’t just look at the portion that’s ‘yours’. So if you pay $5 to enter a head to head contest that pays the winner $9, that’s $1 of rake taken from a $10 prize pool. Don’t fall into the trap of calculating it as “$4 of winnings paid on my $5 entry if I win…so $1 rake on $5”. That’s wrong. The second common mistake is that people will sometimes calculate rake as a percentage of prizes, rather than as a percentage of entry fees. So the correct calculation for the head to head described above is $1 of rake on $10 of entry fees…in other words, 10% rake. It’s not $1 on $9 of prizes (which would be a bit over 11%).
Those calculations become very important on Vulcun (invite code: profantasy3), where the rake varies wildly from one contest to another. Many contests are raked at 15%, and there may be some that are event higher. For contests being raked at that rate, you need to be winning a really high percentage of the time to be profitable. With the site still very new, enough of the entries seem to be made up of bad players that this is still achievable. That said, there’s some good news. If you’re up for playing in higher buy-in contests, I’ve found plenty that have 5% rake and a few that are completely rake free. It appears that Vulcun is trying to encourage people to spend a lot on the site…and if you’re an above average player with a decent sized bankroll, it’s in your best interest to accomodate them!
As far as Vulcun’s bonuses, that’s a bit unclear. Their terms and conditions do mention a matching bonus for new users (presumably similar in nature to AlphaDraft), but don’t provide detail on the amount or limits. In addition, they may offer limited time bonuses for existing users from time to time, so it’s worth checking any emails you receive from them. They also indicate that the rate at which pending bonus releases may vary depending on what contests you enter. However, it appears that the release rate will vary from 10%-15%, which is much slower than on AlphaDraft, but much faster than on most daily fantasy sports sites.
Note that the information in this article is accurate (I think) as of February 23rd. I would imagine that both rake and bonus offers on both sites will evolve over time.