Baseball has always been my favorite sport to play, watch and bet on. Wagering on sides and totals is fun but isn’t always enough for this baseball dork.
Until Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) burst on the scene a few years ago, I was always in a season-long fantasy baseball league. These were serious leagues that required daily research. I gave up on the season-long league for the daily leagues because it allowed me to dive even deeper into player data.
Well, that didn’t last very long as traditional DFS companies like Fanduel and Draft Kings no longer operate in Nevada. In late 2015, the Gaming Control Board decided that DFS was gambling and that these companies needed a gaming license. Instead of admitting their DFS contests were gambling, they pulled out of Nevada. Betting on baseball last year was a bit boring without any kind of daily player research in my life.
Enter U.S. Fantasy.
We introduced you to this licensed pari-mutuel version of DFS last year. These daily sports contests are available in many casinos in Nevada. U.S. Fantasy is similar to DFS but a little different. Their contests pay similar to horse racing than traditional DFS contests.
With U.S. Fantasy baseball, you have the option of wagering on pitchers, batters, and a few prop-style bets. Instead of setting a full lineup, you’re picking one or two players to score more fantasy points than the other players in their pool. This is a lot easier than setting lineups for traditional DFS. Pitchers and batters are placed into their own group(s) of eight players. Batters aren’t separated by position and pitchers are usually starters.
Playing U.S. Fantasy Baseball
Similar to a horse race, each fantasy player available opens with their own odds that will change as money is wagered on the pool of players. For example, the other day Khris Davis of the Oakland A’s opened at 9/1 but was bet down to 4/1 just before game time. Conversely, Steven Souza of the Tampa Bay Rays opened as a 9/2 favorite but saw little money and was 9/1 just before the first pitch.
Payouts are also similar to horse racing. You’ll choose one of the eight players in the hitters pool to score the most fantasy points. If that player scores the most points, you’ll win at whatever his closing odds are.
In the example above, Davis would pay $20 for a $5 wager for him to “Win” and come in first place. You can also make a “Place” bet for the player who finishes second. You can parlay two players for an exacta. A $2 Exacta of Davis (1st) and Souza (2nd) would pay $53 and Souza (1st) with Davis (2nd) would pay $80.
Wagering on U.S. Fantasy is a lot easier than traditional DFS since you don't have to research every player and manage a salary cap. Like all fantasy baseball leagues, U.S. Fantasy has their own scoring system:
• Single = 1 point
• Double = 2 points
• Triple = 3 points
• Home Run = 4 points
• Run = 1 point
• Run Batted In (RBI) = 1 point
• Base on Balls (BB) = 1 point
• Stolen Base (SB) = 2 points
• Tiebreaker = Fewest Total Runners Left on Base (LOB)
• Win = 3 Points
• Run = 2 Point deduction (-2) for each earned run
• Strikeout = 1 point
• Inning Pitched = 3 points, or 1 point for each out in the inning
• Tiebreaker = Number of strikes
Extra innings are included in all scoring calculations. This rarely happens but if a game extends beyond 11:59 p.m. PT, the final full inning completed prior to 11:59 p.m. will be considered as the game’s final inning for scoring calculation.
U.S. Fantasy makes different player pools available every day. The lineups of players are usually available to see and bet on the day before each game. This keeps the contests fresh and allows a little time for research before placing bets.
For baseball, U.S. Fantasy is offering a unique combination wager for select games that you won’t find in the traditional sportsbook. Every day they choose a game, or games, for a Runline/Total prop. They'll select a game (or games) and offer a 4-way prop that includes each side of the runline and Over/Under for the total. For example:
KC Royals vs. LA Angels
+1.5 and Over 8.5 runs
+1.5 and Under 8.5 runs
-1.5 and Over 8.5 runs
-1.5 and Over 8.5 runs
The odds for each option change similarly to the player pools. Each option will open at certain odds and will close wherever the money takes them.
U.S. Fantasy isn’t a 100 percent money split for the players. Like other DFS operators, U.S. Fantasy has a small takeout from each contest. They take 10 percent of Win, Place, and Show bets and 11 percent for exactas and trifectas. Other contests and prop style bets might be a little more. Thankfully, U.S. Fantasy didn’t follow the horse racing model and takeout 20 percent or more of the pool.
Gambling with U.S. Fantasy Baseball
U.S. Fantasy gives me an excuse to research individual players a little deeper than I might normally when handicapping for team bets. Gambling is still entertainment and, while I like researching and handicapping games, I have a job and don’t want to spend all every second of free time studying for a hobby.
The smaller daily player pools and limited prop bets make this a nice middle ground between traditional DFS and traditional sports betting. The $2 minimum wagers make U.S. Fantasy one of the more fun low-roller options in the sportsbook with a fair chance to win. Sure we can make five-team parlays for $2 but that seems a bit more difficult to win. Money is nice, but winning is what makes gambling fun.
The one thing missing from U.S. Fantasy today is a mobile app so that anyone interested doesn’t have to go to the casino to place a $2 exacta. I’m told that will be available in the next few months. Personally, that will make participation easier since I make 95 percent of wagers through mobile apps while researching games at my desk.
I'm always looking for something new in the casino to spend a few bucks. U.S. Fantasy baseball is just another option on the continually expanding sports book menus.