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Poker pro Aaron Jones wins DraftKings Fantasy Football World Championship21 January 2016
This past weekend, the 29-year-old was on the right side of an incalculable comeback — except this time, it came in the daily fantasy sports realm when he came back from a 49-point deficit entering the final weekend of the DraftKings Fantasy Football World Championship to outlast the final 10 competitors and take down the $5 million first-place check, the biggest prize in daily fantasy sports history.
Dubbed "the biggest fantasy contest of all time" with $15 million up for grabs, players competed for a spot in the final 200 of the Fantasy Football World Championship on DraftKings during the first 14 weeks of the NFL season via qualifiers for $3, $20, $300 and $1,000, as well as satellites for as little as $0.25. The top 200 qualifiers earned a seat in the Week 15 semifinals in Las Vegas and were guaranteed a payout of at least $20,000.
The field dwindled down to the final 10 entering last weekend, with each player not only guaranteed at least $100,000, but also receiving a three-night VIP package in Los Angeles for a live viewing event.
When the players landed in LA, "Condia," a DFS legend whose real name is Charles Chon, held a commanding 30-point lead over "dandydon," another well-known and wildly successful DFS pro.
Jones, using the name "aejones," sat in fifth place entering the final weekend and decided to stack his lineup with Arizona Cardinals players in the team's home game against the Green Bay Packers, using quarterback Carson Palmer, running back David Johnson, wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, and the Cardinals defense/special teams.
The gamble paid off handsomely when, thanks to two Hail Mary plays on the final drive in regulation, the Packers forced overtime. On the third play from scrimmage in the extra session, Fitzgerald had a spectacular 75-yard catch-and-run, setting up a five-yard TD catch on a shuffle pass from Palmer. The end result was a 34.6-point output from Fitzgerald, the most of any receiver from the four games.
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. The remainder of the winning roster included Palmer (26.96), Denver RB CJ Anderson (16.3), Johnson (13.8), Floyd (17.6), Broncos TE Demaryius Thomas (10), Kansas City TE Travis Kelce (8.3) and the Cardinals D/ST (4).
Add it all up and he totaled 162.96, more than 11 points better than Dan "danny1234" Moreno, who settled for the $2 million second-place prize. As for Condia, he suffered a DFS player's worst nightmare when Green Bay WR Randall Cobb went down with an early injury and failed to tally a single point, leading Condia to a third-place finish and $1 million prize.
"The structure was fantastic, props to DraftKings for such a cool idea; carrying over the points for a 2-week final," Jones said in a Reddit AMA on Wednesday. "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!"
Jones revealed in the AMA that he didn't qualify for the event until the final hour.
"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," he said. "When the other competitors in the top 10 were doing their interviews I kept hearing people say they qualified on $3 entry and I was jealous — I am probably the least compelling human interest story ever. Professional gambler (something DFS sites don't want to promote) who doesn't have anything cool to do with the money (if only I had sick grandparents!)."
According to his bio on DraftKings, Jones "dabbled with online poker" while he attended Butler University from 2005 to 2009. He lived in Indianapolis for the majority of his college career, but he also went back and forth to Las Vegas to participate in poker tournaments. Jones said in 2009 he bought a company, Leggo Poker, which trained people in how to play the game, and after four years he sold it to Phil Ivey.
He said that over the last 18 months he has gone from full-time poker player to full-time DFS pro. He added on Reddit that his win in the Fantasy Football World Championship may have been a case of him being "due."
"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 lifetime in poker tournaments, which I guess meant I was due."
Poker pro Aaron Jones wins DraftKings Fantasy Football World Championship is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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