For one weekend, Jersey City might be considered the hub of the sports betting in the U.S. The inaugural DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship (SBNC) kicked off Friday in the Garden State, drawing hundreds of sports bettors to a first-of-its-kind contest that boasts a $1 million top prize.
Bettors flew in from all over the country to put down the $10,000 entry fee for the event. A total of 242 entries were listed on the DraftKings leaderboard Saturday morning.
Still, participation is well behind pace to hit the $2.5 million guaranteed prize pool. Registration is open until 4:35 p.m. ET on Saturday. Johnny Avello, director of sportsbook operations at DraftKings, told TheLines this week that the company was prepared for the possibility of overlay and was “OK” with that.
Betting action resumes Saturday and continues through Sunday with the conclusion of the Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints game, at which point the first DraftKings SBNC winner will be crowned.
Day 1 leaderboard
A player under the DraftKings username “johnstorz” led the way after Day 1, turning his original $5,000 bankroll into $30,877.75 on Friday. Johnstorz hit a four-team NBA/NHL parlay for more than $17,000 to take a sizeable lead into Day 2 of the contest. He also nailed a three-team NBA parlay for $7,300.
Meanwhile, 10 players finished the opening day with nothing left in their bankroll. Among those going broke was Alex “Awesemo” Baker, who put his entire $5,000 bankroll on the under in the Atlanta Hawks vs. Philadelphia 76ers game. Baker told TheLines this week: “I think you have to take a very high-variance approach with nearly half the money going to first.” He wasn’t fibbing.
Below is the top 10 on the leaderboard after Day 1. Up-to-the-minute updates can be found here.
Day 2 look-ahead
With Sunday betting for this event limited to only the two NFL playoff games, this expanded Saturday menu of sports and games could be the decider in crowning the first champion of this event. Here’s what bettors will find on the DraftKings Sportsbook app:
Soccer: Seven English Premier League (EPL) games plus four La Liga matches create a juicy soccer slate for bettors. How many contestants were up at the crack of dawn Saturday betting on the West Ham vs Arsenal game? We’ll have updates on that during the Day 2 Live Blog on Saturday.
NFL: Two divisional round games expect to capture the most attention from entrants in the Sports Betting National Championship. No shortage of props and in-game options for these games. The football action kicks off at 4:35 p.m. ET with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Indianapolis Colts. The Rams and Cowboys will follow in Los Angeles at 8:15 p.m. ET.
NBA: Eight NBA games also figure to be popular with bettors. The pro hardwood action starts at 3:30 p.m. ET with the Pistons and Clippers. Bulls/Jazz and Hornets/Kings close out the Saturday schedule at 10 p.m. ET.
NHL: The 12-game NHL schedule starts at 1 p.m. ET with a pair of east coast games in New York and New Jersey. Puckheads have plenty of options to fire on Saturday.
College basketball: Here’s where the sharps could separate themselves. More than 140 Division 1 games are scheduled for Saturday. While not all of them will be on the betting board, regular college hoops bettors could find an edge here. The first games tip off at noon ET.
Golf: The third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii tees off in the afternoon. A wide selection of player props and matchups are available as well as live winner odds.
How the DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship works
- All participants must be located in New Jersey when placing bets for the contest.
- The buy-in for the event is $10,000 (more than 80 qualified on DraftKings leading up to the event). Each participant begins with a DK-funded $5,000 bankroll. The remaining portion of the buy-in goes toward the prize pool (minus a $300 contest fee).
- Bets can be placed on any sport on the DraftKings app Friday or Saturday. However, on Sunday only the two NFL divisional playoff games are available for the championship event. Betting closes upon the kickoff of the second NFL divisional playoff game on Sunday.
- Players must wager at least $1,000 on Friday and Saturday, and at least $2,000 on Sunday.
- All types of bets are in play, including straight bets, parlays, teasers, and props.
- Those requirements must be met in order for participants to retain a spot on the official leaderboard and qualify for the $1,000,000 grand prize, or for the subsequent payouts for lower finishes.
- The player with the biggest bankroll at the end of the weekend is determined the grand prize winner. Subsequent spots on the leaderboard will also be determined by bankroll size.
- The prize pool will be at least $2.5 million, with each direct buy-in above 531 entries increasing the prize pool by $4,700 apiece.
- Only one entry is allowed per person.
- All players take home the sum total of their bankroll at the end of the weekend. Those who have kept their leaderboard eligibility are also awarded any money they’ve earned through that channel.
Follow TheLines for updates
Our team will be on site Saturday and Sunday to cover the remainder of the DraftKings Sports Betting Championship. Follow the live blog here at TheLines for leaderboard updates, player interviews, photos and videos from the event, and more. And be sure to follow TheLines on Twitter for frequent updates all weekend.