Dynasty Trade Tells, Part Two

Eric Burtzlaff


Welcome back to the article that will keep you thinking one step ahead of your opponents when you are dealing with them in the Dynasty Trade battlefield. This tell isn’t always perfect and a decent portion of the time doesn’t actually mean anything significant. I’m going to be acting under the assumption that you are dealing with an active owner who doesn’t let offers sit in their inbox for days on end or just outright never respond to trades. Let’s set the stage:

“Your trade partner doesn’t decline your trade but counters it instead.”

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It goes something like this. You are in heavy negotiations with a player and you think you are getting close. You make an offer you think could get accepted. You get an identical counter plus one of your future 2nd round picks. That’s reasonable, you think. On the way to hit “accept,” you notice that your offer is still pending and never got declined. Wait, what does that mean?!

Assumption: My general take of this situation is the owner is willing to take your first deal but went back to well to see if they can squeeze any extra value out of the trade. If you use MyFantasyLeague.com, when you go to accept or decline a trade on the website there are three different options. These options are “Accept,” “Decline and Counter,” “Decline.” If that player couldn’t pull the trigger and countered, he would have generally declined the trade. Instead, the player went out of their way to make a counter offer. This means, our previous deal was probably good and will be enough to get the deal done.

How to exploit this player: This tell is a bit trickier than other ones. I say that because it is difficult to hide yourself from giving it away. You should be trying to squeeze every ounce of value out of each trade you make, and therefore, it’s actually good practice to try to go back for more value when you are close to accepting a deal. While it’s not always possible to hide your intentions in this situation, it is comforting to remember that 90%+ of players in your leagues likely aren’t paying attention to small things like this unless you are in a high-stakes or very competitive league. Let’s re-visit how to deal with the minority of people who are paying attention later in the article.

So, how do we exploit the general dynasty owner?

If the player is just a recreational player, I will just outright tell them I don’t think I can do the other deal and just not respond to the actual trade. I might send an e-mail such as “I think the deal is pretty fair as it was previously offered, would you be willing to reconsider that one?”

Or if you are certain the player is willing to accept that original deal, I’d just go ahead and decline it (reminder: I would take the deal in a vacuum) saying, “Sorry I can’t do that deal, I think that’s a bit too much.” In that situation, I’m completely bluffing. Much like bluffing in poker, it can come with great reward or terrible failure. Great reward is getting your deal accepted while terrible defeat is the owner trades your target to someone else because you officially declined. Most of the time even if they didn’t ever intend to accept your first deal, you will have another option to say “screw it, lets do that previous deal” and re-offer it.

How do we keep the more observant owner from exploiting us in this situation?

This brings us up an important poker term to keep our very savvy leaguemates from gaining a tell on us. The term is “Balance your range.” You need to balance your bluffing range or balance your “value” range in poker when playing against other pros. This means you need to play your bluffs and strong hands the same way. You need to approach dynasty trades in the same way with smart owners every time. You essentially have two options:

  1. Never decline a reasonable trade, ever. This might seem extreme and requires you to be VERY careful when you go to accept a trade with ten sitting in your inbox. That being said, if you never decline a trade and only accept trades, your leaguemate can gain no information off you failing to decline any trade. You have to be active if you use this strategy, however. As a trader, you cannot have your leaguemates thinking you are inactive. I’d recommend sending them an e-mail if you don’t wish to counter and say “thanks but I don’t think I can accept that deal” to let them know you saw the offer and won’t be accepting. And in the true Merry-go-round that is intelligent bluffing this also gives you ANOTHER avenue to outsmart your opponent and bluff if you build up a reputation of being serious whenever you e-mail your done.

Hint: Balancing your range only works on players who are paying attention. If you are dealing with an owner for the first time or someone who is very inactive, feel free to change it up and use a less “fancy” approach to the trade.

  1. Be willing to turn down offers you’d accept based off your “feel” that you can get additional value in the trade. This is a tough situation to explain, but if you are active in your league’s trade market you should get a feel from other players in your league. No sane owner would turn down an offer they would accept, right? Well that’s what you want your trade partner to think. Turn him down and let the owner know you mean business and really can’t do his deal as its currently proposed.

Hint: Don’t ruin your reputation by always turning down offers you’d take. It won’t take another smart owner long to realize that you always ask for the same deal after you declined and the deal has died. If they realize that, you’ll suddenly be completely exploitable yourself.

If you haven’t yet labelled me as a crazy person, you likely are reeling in your brain right now. When does it stop you might ask? Well, trading much like poker doesn’t have a maximum level of outthinking players and much like poker if you overthink or underthink a situation, you can undermine all the work and thought you’ve put into the move.

Lastly, this is a very advanced train of thought especially once a guy knows you are “playing games” with your trades. You will have to constantly outthink the players you deal with to try to get the maximum value out of every trade you can. Stay active, stay smart and don’t ruin your trade credit in your league. Other smart owners will realize all is fair in love, war, poker and dynasty trades.