Early in the first quarter of the brand new NFL regular season, DraftKings has announced a new $500-per-entry New Jersey-based handicapping contest called the “Super Pool” — easily the closest thing yet in a regulated market outside Nevada to the famed Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest.
There’s a three-week runway for entries — the contest will start in the NFL’s Week 4 — and a guaranteed prize pool of $1 million with a guaranteed top prize of $250,000. It’s similar to the SuperContest, which requires five picks against the spread every week for all 17 weeks of the regular season (a grand total of 85), but there are some key differences.
The biggest difference in the Super Pool: Contestants can choose any number of picks each week as long as they make 70 picks against the spread by season’s end. For example, to satisfy the 70-pick requirement, a contestant could make 10 picks apiece in each of Weeks 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, and 17. Slice it up any way you want, just make 70 total.
And while we can’t reasonably project at this point how many people will throw down $500 (or $1,500, as each individual may have up to three entries), we’ll speculate there’s at least a decent chance there’s some overlay with 2,000 entries required to reached the $1 million guarantee.
So far in New Jersey and in nearby Pennsylvania, we’ve seen some attempts to replicate the kind of large-scale contest put on by the Las Vegas Westgate and recently Circa, but so far nothing has come close.
Although a bit delayed here (probably “thanks” to the Division of Gaming Enforcement), the Eagles -1 and Giants +2 and Patriots -18.5 (!!) have landed.
DraftKings Sportsbook’s Super Pool contest rules, notes
After reviewing the terms and conditions, here are the most notable nuts and bolts:
1. Contestants must be located in the state of New Jersey.
This rule applies to entering the contest, making picks, and editing picks. For the SuperContest, there’s a whole cottage industry for proxy services whereby folks fly in to register, then a third-party proxy enters the picks for the entrant week by week. Apparently that’s a no-go here.
“Picks cannot be submitted by email, phone, or in person,” the rules state. “Picks for an entry cannot be made by any individual other than the owner of the DraftKings account that registered for the Contest (i.e., no proxy play allowed).”
It’s unfortunate people out of state won’t be allowed here by proxy, but I’m guessing DK had the choice made for it by New Jersey regulators. How might DraftKings know if someone registers on your behalf inside New Jersey borders, then enters your picks after a lively Saturday morning conference call each week? I suppose they might do some IP address tracking and connect the dots. Maybe not. But I’m not sure I’d run that risk and spend 14 weeks scrapping and sweating only to lose a prize by flouting the rules. The company has flagged accounts before in daily fantasy contexts in similar situations.
That said, you don’t have to be in New Jersey every single week for this contest, an interesting and convenient twist. You could make seven picks in ten weeks or ten picks in seven weeks as described earlier. It’s not an ideal approach if you’re forcing the picks in weeks where you’re not identifying an edge, but it’s an option.
2. All picks must be made online.
Using the DraftKings Sportsbook account associated with the entry, users can make their picks through the app or the desktop version of the site. No entries or picks are accepted in person. After all, it is 2019. The Super Pool area of the DK Sportsbook will live separately from the full sportsbook.
Also, based on our reading of the rules — unlike SugarHouse’s very underwhelming contest — you don’t have to stake an actual real-money wager for each or any of your picks to effectuate a contest pick. You post $500 and then you make your 70 picks over the course of the season.
The DraftKings Super Pool is here!
Play for $1M in guaranteed prizes.
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) September 9, 2019
3. The upside of the no-proxy rules is that there’s a decent chance there will be overlay.
DraftKings is guaranteeing $1 mm in prizes and $250,000 for the top prize. Enrollment is now open and closes on Sept. 29, coinciding with the Week 4 Sunday slate kickoff. Eight people have entered as of the time of this writing.
The SuperContest, with a storied history, opened registration over the summer and saw a record 3,328 entries this year (at $1,500 apiece). And they accept proxy entries, drawing registrants from around the country. With a physical presence in New Jersey required and just 19 more days of enrollment, and 2,000 players needed for the Super Pool to avoid an overlay … even if there’s a late rush, I’ll take even money the pool closes short of 2,000.
4. Spreads will lock on Wednesday.
Like the SuperContest, spreads will be static once posted. That means they’ll be published on Wednesdays, and even if/when the spreads fluctuate on the sportsbook app/site, the posted spreads will remain constant for purposes of pool play.
5. Picks can be made and modified.
Entrants can edit any pick until the start time of that game.
6. All posted lines will have half-point spreads, so there will be no ties/pushes.
This is another difference with the SuperContest, which uses whole numbers and, in the event of a push, awards half points. We’re not sure how DK will decide in which direction to shade half numbers when their actual, non-Super-Pool lines settle on whole numbers.
Kudos to DraftKings for putting this together and, we surmise, working around some DGE hurdles. It was somewhat disappointing that in Year 2 of legal NJ sports betting, it appeared that nothing like this would be available to bettors. But DraftKings launched first in NJ in 2018 and then, despite the controversy and some shortcomings, had the guts to offer its high-stakes “Sports Betting National Championship” over a three-day contest period in January. So it’s no surprise DK pulled this together.
According to my math, 7.5% of the field will get paid. It’s pretty top heavy, but only about 3% gets paid in the SuperContest.
We’ll work to get some additional information about the contest and will update. We don’t know at this point if DK will launch something similar in another jurisdiction.