StarsDraft.com is one of the newest daily fantasy sports sites to enter the market. They went live in 2015 after a much-publicized acquisition of Victiv.com. The StarsDraft people liked the platform originally designed by Victiv and have kept many elements intact, including the original Victiv team.
From the creators of legendary poker site PokerStars comes StarsDraft. This is one of the newest entrants in the DFS market, but it is already making a splash thanks to an experienced team of reputable people working behind the scenes.
- Clean interface and powerful stats tools
- Get $15 free with no deposit required
- Large deposit bonus
- Smaller competitions are easier to win
- Smaller prize pools compared to bigger DFS sites
- Restricts signups from 46 states
- Not much variety in sports leagues
- New Player Bonus: 100% up to $250
- Promo Code: N/A
- Established: September, 2015
- Sports Leagues Covered: NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and PGA
- Contest Buyins: $1 to $500
- Deposit Options: Credit card and PayPal
The people who built the original Victiv platform made it their goal to offer the “purest” fantasy sports leagues in the industry. What they mean when they say this is that they want their games to rely entirely on skill and not on luck. They accomplish this by using a statistics-based approach to everything from player salaries to scoring methods. StarsDraft builds on that philosophy today.
For example, StarsDraft does not award arbitrary bonuses for players who achieve 100+ rushing yards or for goalies who happen to be on winning teams. They want each player’s point total to be a result of that individual player’s actual performance not influenced by random luck factors.
Here’s how they put it in a past blog post:
We do a large amount of analytics each time we launch a new sport, and our aim is to capture the purest form of fantasy sports possible. Fantasy sports is about drafting players whose individual contribution is superior to other players at that same position — and a fantasy points scoring system should capture exactly that. Early on we made the decision not to award an arbitrary 100+ yards rushing or 300+ yards passing 3-point bonus in the NFL, for instance. In our eyes, the 100th yard rushing shouldn’t count for 30 times as much as the 99th yard, and the 300th passing yard certainly shouldn’t count for 75 times as much as all the other yards before it. These bonuses act to artificially increase variance and decrease the importance of the skill aspect of the game.
Their emphasis on cold-hearted statistical analysis is reflected in every aspect of the StarsDraft.com website. When drafting players, you can sort by position, recent passing yards, recent rushing yards and more. The VICTRON feature allows you to set the importance of various player statistics so that you can give more or less weight to various stat categories, consider matchup strength and create lineups that seek to achieve specific goals.
I’m not doing the website any justice, by the way. Their approach to statistics goes far beyond anything I’ve ever seen. StarsDraft actually poached Earl Mitchell from his position as Director of Technology at Wolfram Solutions to optimize every aspect of the website from athlete salaries to research tools to user experience.
There’s so much more to say, but this introduction has run long enough already. Let’s talk about the actual experience at StarsDraft.
Sign up for an account and make your first deposit to get a 100% bonus added to that deposit. You can get up to $250 extra with this offer. A $100 deposit will get you $100 worth of bonus cash, a $200 deposit will get you an extra $200 and so on. All you have to do is sign up, log in and visit the cashier area to make a deposit and get your bonus.
The bonus is released over time as you participate in contests. Every dollar you pay in “commission” or rake releases $0.40 of your bonus. The bonus money that you clear is automatically moved to your real money account and may be withdrawn or used to buy in to real money contests.
No promo code is necessary to claim this bonus. The mere act of signing up and depositing is enough – this bonus is given to ALL new customers.
Free Bankroll Builder
If you’re not ready to make a real money deposit, you can earn up to $15 free with no deposit required. All you have to do is sign up for an account and then you will be given five free entries to Bankroll Builder contests. These contests pit you against the computer in a head-to-head contest for a chance to win $3 in each contest for up to $15.
The Bankroll Builder promotion also serves to introduce new players to the game. You get a chance to play risk-free in contests that offer real payouts. The computer-generated lineup isn’t too difficult to beat either. If you put together a halfway decent team, you should come out with at least a few extra bucks to try the games.
Software and Drafting
The majority of your time spent at any fantasy site is the lobby and drafting area. These areas are where you select contests, draft teams and look up player stats. Software is a make-or-break feature on any fantasy site. If not enough information is displayed, you’re forced to go outside to look up stats, matchups and so on. In fact, one of my biggest complaints with FanDuel is its lack of information about opposing teams.
StarsDraft absolutely kills it on the software side. The simple, minimalist graphics will probably appeal to most, but what really stands out is the usefulness of features. Their drafting area goes well beyond the call of duty in helping you draft lineups and look up player information.
I touched on this in the introduction, but the VICTRON feature allows for the most in-depth drafting in online fantasy. This isn’t just me trying to puff up StarsDraft; they really do have stats and selection mastered. When you draft lineups for a fantasy league, you can sort by a myriad of statistics including opposing team’s strength in specific areas.
You can use VICTRON and the built-in stats database to find players who provide consistency, players who have suddenly improved in recent weeks, players who are on high-scoring teams and players who are slated to compete against teams that are weak in some key area. There’s more to it than I could possibly explain here, so I recommend just checking it out for yourself. You can view the lobby and draft a lineup without signing up or making a deposit.
StarsDraft.com also allows you to create, save and edit multiple lineups and instantly enter those into any number of contests. If you want to test a couple strategies or try 2+ teams in a multi-entry contest, you can use your saved lineups to join instantly. A global swap feature makes it possible to switch out players across all saved lineups.
During active contests, you can visit three dashboards to watch your players in action. The lineup dashboard shows a specific lineup, how many points each player has earned and where you rank in relation to the competition.
The athletes lineup shows all your active athletes from all lineups on one page. Each athlete is updated with up to date stats, news, which lineups they’re in and how much money you have riding on each athlete. Finally, the contests view shows all your active contests, where you rank in each contest, how much you stand to win and how many points you have in each contest.
All contests hosted at StarsDraft are of the daily format and implement a standard salary cap for each sport. The types of contests include large events with guaranteed prize pools, double-up events in which half the players win double their money, head-to-head games, anonymous head-to-head games and satellites that award free entry to more expensive events.
Once you get past all the statistic features and lineup features, the contests at StarsDraft are pretty close to what you’d expect at FanDuel or DraftKings. As your players perform well in the real world, points are awarded to your team and you win cash.
Because the site is so new, it doesn’t have the same massive prize pools that you see at the bigger sites. However, the site is growing at a quick pace. Just recently, they hosted a $300,000 guaranteed NFL contest that awarded $50,000 and two Super Bowl tickets to the winner.
Rake is lower than average at StarsDraft. Most sites keep roughly 10% of all entries, but StarsDraft only takes 7.5 to 9% depending on the contest. I should also note that scoring here is calculated a bit differently than for other fantasy sites. Most notably, no bonus points are awarded for milestones such as rushing more than 100 yards or passing more than 300 yards. StarsDraft has stated that it wants point totals to reflect each athlete’s individual contribution to the game and rely as little as possible on outside factors or random milestones.
|Rushing Touchdowns||6 points|
|Passing Touchdowns||4 points|
|2 Point Conversion||2 points|
|Rushing Yards||0.1 point per yard|
|Receiving Yards||0.1 point per yard|
|Passing Yards||0.04 points per yard|
|Fumble Lost||-1 point|
|Defense and Special Teams|
|Shutout and Game Start||12 points|
|Points Allowed||-0.5 points per point allowed|
|Defensive Touchdown||6 points|
|Fumble Recovery||2 points|
|Blocked Kick||2 points|
|Forwards and Defenders|
|Shorthanded Goal||4 points|
|Shorthanded Assist||3 points|
|Shot on Goal||0.4 points|
|Shootout Goal||0.5 points|
|Goal Against||-1 point|
Accepted and Restricted States
Here’s where we get to what is both the biggest weakness and potentially greatest strength of StarsDraft. Amaya Gaming is a very conservative company when it comes to licensing and legal issues around the world. Amid recent legal challenges facing the entire DFS industry, StarsDraft has opted to suspend service from all states except four.
The downside is obvious: if you don’t live in one of the four following states, you cannot play at StarsDraft. The upside is that once the legal dust settles, they may end up being the fantasy site that is most ready to achieve licensing in other states and grow in a completely legal environment.
Accepted: Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and Kansas
Restricted: Every other US state.
StarsDraft/Victiv has only been online since last year, but it is already doing very cool things. Their heavy emphasis on statistics and desire to create “pure” fantasy leagues impact every aspect of the website. It’s difficult to fully explain how much of an impact this has on the experience, but let me just say that it’s huge. You should give them a try.
At this time, StarsDraft is limited in the number of sports and types of contests it offers. In that manner, it doesn’t stand apart from FanDuel or DraftKings. However, the founders have promised to add new leagues in coming months and have said they already have a whole lineup of completely new types of fantasy contests not seen anywhere else yet.
I tend to believe their big promises because so far they have over delivered on everything else. The site seems to have a team of very smart and very motivated people who constantly analyze, tinker, test and improve every little thing. As you can see, I’m sold. The rest is up to you.