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Beginner NHL DFS: GPP vs. Cash

We continue our breakdown of the basics for NHL DFS. In this section, we look at GPP vs. Cash games, with definitions and some basic strategy.

Tampa Bay Lightning Right Wing Nikita Kucherov skates with the puck during the NHL regular season game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 10, 2020, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON, Canada. Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As you get into daily fantasy hockey, you will hear the term “GPP“ and “Cash” games often. And, when I explain to you that GPP stands for “guaranteed prize pool,” you probably won’t be more informed than before. The simplest definition is: GPPs are tournaments with high payouts while Cash games are 50/50 endeavors with smaller payouts. Cash and GPP formats make up the majority of DraftKings games and require different strategies to win. Below are basic starting points in thinking about strategy for both.

Cash games


A cash game is one where around 50 percent of the participants win the same prize and don’t require a top score to win. This means if you are in a 100-person contest and finish 50th, you get the same amount of prize money as if you finished first. You’ll see different versions of these, but Double Ups, 50/50s and Head-to-Head games all give you just under a 50 percent shot to win.


Basic strategy to prevail in cash games is to look for consistency. To cash out, you don’t need to finish first, you need to finish somewhere in the top 50 percent. That will push you to select players with high floors, or in other words, you’ll want to pay up at goalie and forward, as they have the highest scoring potential. We’ll learn more about picking forwards and goalies, but just know they are where you’re going to see the most variance in scoring, so you’ll need to pay up to give yourself some consistency.

Playing a defenseman in your utility spot, giving your lineup three total, is one way to find value while giving yourself a good chance at some points. Cheaper forwards aren’t as safe as defensemen since they don’t get points for blocked shots. But, you can’t expect big points from your defensemen. You’re hoping for a couple points from them while your studs make up the bulk of the scoring.

GPP games


In GPPs or tournaments, 20 percent or fewer of the lineups win money, with the top finishers getting a big percentage of the winnings while that percentage drops quickly as you go down the list of winners. A GPP is all about high risk and high reward.


Since GPP games have much higher payouts than cash games, they also bring more risk. Those consistent players you and many others chose in cash games might work in a GPP lineup, but you will need to find ways to differentiate your lineup from the crowd and pick players who can put up big numbers but will likely be less consistent. That could mean taking backup goalies who are getting run in a good matchup while stacking a couple top front lines, which we will look into more.

You can’t expect to win GPPs consistently, which means droughts are inevitable. You can expect to win cash games with some consistency as you learn the game, to keep your bank roll on course. Understanding the nature of these two types of games will go a long way in helping you find success in daily fantasy hockey.