Eric Dykstra

My Other Side Project

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Alright, I said I was going to write and publish one game per week, but I’m already taking a hiatus before the first one is finished. Baseball season is rapidly approaching, so I’ve decided to switch gears and take on a side project that’s been on my mind since before I was programming professionally. I developed and improved a system over the last couple of years that predicts baseball player performances on a game-to-game level good enough to consistently make money playing daily fantasy baseball.

If you don’t know what daily fantasy baseball is, it’s pretty simple. You pay money to enter a contest against one person, two people, or a large group, and depending on the payout structure of the contest, you win money based on how well you do. The site I mainly play on is called Fanduel, which has many kinds of contests. In each contest, you are given a budget, and with this budget you need to roster a complete team: a pitcher and every field position. Players are priced based on their recent and historical performance, and your team is scored based on the individual performances of those players over that single days’ games.

The trick to winning is to find the players that are expected to exceed their value, and create a team that will give you the highest projected value while still staying under budget. When I started doing this as a hobby, it was a giant mess of Excel spreadsheets and I really had no idea if I could make money or if there was no way to make money with the sites taking a 10% cut of every entry fee. I managed to lose the first $20 I put in in April of 2012, but put $10 in again believing that I really could beat enough players to turn a profit.

Now with two seasons, a few thousand dollars and more than a thousand contests of data in, I’m confident that I can beat the masses on a regular basis. So with two weeks until games start, I’m working on moving my knowledge from my head into code, and seeing if I can make the process of choosing a team for every day of the 200+ days of baseball a 3-5 minute process instead of a 20-30 minute one. I have all of the knowledge, and I know what tools I need to get the job done, but it’s not a simple task to implement. It will involve a lot of scraping, calculation, and data analysis in some ways I haven’t worked with before.

Welcome!

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Hey! This would be the introduction-to-this-blog post. I’m Eric Dykstra, and I currently living in San Francisco and working as a software developer at Goldbely. As for the direction of this blog, I think I’m going to write about two broad topics, generally.

The first topic will be non-work related programming hobbies. Right now I’m just starting to learn game development in my spare time. My challenge for myself now is to make one game per week, release it online (should be fairly trivial to do using Unity), and report on my progress. I started my first game on Sunday, and will publish it here on Saturday. I’m looking forward to sharing this learning experience and getting into some kind of programming other than web development. I’ve also got a couple of web side projects on the backburner that I’m looking forward to getting up in some form soon, and documenting how I build them and what I learn along the way.

The second topic will be things related to programming as a career. It’s amazing to be in software development right now, and I believe I made the career switch at the right time. I went through Dev Bootcamp as part of my career transition to a web application developer (you can see that blog here). That started almost exactly a year ago, and even though that’s a relatively short amount of time, the number of this type of programming vocational school has increased dramatically, and now the market, at least in San Francisco, is flooded with junior engineers. I find this really interesting, and wonder what the long-term effects of this will be.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, come back for the next installment!