Poker Pro Wins DFS World Championship

3 years ago
Aaron Jones Wins DFS World Championship
28 Jan

In a remarkable last-minute turnaround, poker pro-turned-DFS pro Aaron Jones scooped the $5million first prize in the DraftKings Fantasy Football World Championship last weekend.

The 29-year old –playing under the name ‘ aejones’ - had a huge deficit entering the final round of play, but thanks to a sterling performance by his Arizona Cardinals-packed line-up, he leap-frogged his rivals to win the coveted title and the huge cash windfall.

With $15million on the line, the DraftKings Fantasy Football World Championship was dubbed “the biggest fantasy contest of all time”, and the final 10 including Jones were treated to a three-night VIP package in Los Angeles for a live viewing event.

The competition had seen millions of entries, where DFS hopefuls had entered for anything ranging from the $0.25 satellites to $5000+ buy-in qualifiers during the first 14 weeks of the NFL season. Jones himself took the expensive route in, with a last-minute decision to enter! He stated:

I had been having a good NFL season in cash games so I decided to play a $5,000 qualifier that paid the top five seats."

The field was drastically cut down to 200 for the semi-finals in week 15 in Las Vegas, then to the final 10 – each guaranteed at least $100,000 for their efforts.

By this point, Jones was lying way back in 5th spot – the lead being held by DFS legend Charles “Condia” Chon, who himself was well-ahead of 2nd placed “dandydon” – both names well-known in the DFS circles.

“Condia” however, had a disastrous final weekend in Los Angeles, watching his Green Bay pick WR Randall Cobb go down with an early injury and thus failing to tally a single point. His commanding lead, however, meant he still managed a third-place finish and a $1 million prize.

Jones, on the other hand, was absolutely flying – his Cardinal picks all performing superbly – and when Larry Fitzgerald completed ‘a spectacular 75-yard catch-and-run’, the end result was a 34.6-point output from wide-receiver Fitzgerald, the highest total of any receiver from the four games.

As reported in the Casinocitytimes:

On Sunday in the final game of the weekend, Jones also got a huge effort from Pittsburgh wide receiver Martavis Bryant. The Steeler WR amassed 31.4 points, and Jones was the only player in the final 10 to have both Bryant and Fitzgerald in his lineup.”

At the final count, Jones’ 162.96 was 11 points clear of Dan "danny1234" Moreno, who had to settle for the $2 million second-place prize.

In a Reddit AMA shortly afterwards, Jones stated:

The structure was fantastic, props to DraftKings for such a cool idea
carrying over the points for a 2-week final. I was down a LOT to Condia and wasn't sure if being contrarian in order to try to beat him was even worth it. In the end I decided to play what I thought was a very high EV team (Cardinals onslaught!) with players whose success I thought correlated with each other . . . Aside from the Broncos D (and David Johnson), it was pretty tough to predict who else Condia would play so I didn't want to overthink it — I just put in something that I thought was really likely to score a lot of points. . . and it worked!";

Although the poker and DFS worlds may seem to be at odds with each other, the tie-ins are coming fast and furious.

Jones started out as a poker player, both online and live – but stated in his Reddit question and answer session that:

I've never had a big score in a poker tournament despite being a top cash game and tournament player and playing a decent volume of them. I'm probably down a lot over a lifetime of poker tournaments, which I guess meant I was due."

His fortune was made even before last weekend’s big DFS win, when he sold Leggo Poker –a poker training website - to Phil Ivey back in 2013. And co-incidentally just this week Phil Ivey has announced he is teaming up with iTEAM to release his own skin on their network –

With DFS structures more-and-more resembling the poker world’s tournament schedules –satellites, qualifiers, big final weekends, etc – it’s likely that poker players will be staking themselves as DFS pros in the future. It’s possible that the reverse route will also be taken, as the mix of players and games continues.

Gambling is, after all, gambling – and recent DFS winners seem to be proving that the element of skill is much higher than many people might have previously imagined.

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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