30/04/2013

How much do you really win at poker?

Christian Zetzsche

When Antonio Esfandiari won the Big One Drop last summer during the WSOP 2012, he immediately jumped into 1st place of the all time money list. Phil Hellmuth Jr also cashed in 4th place but instead of winning the entry he was chosen to represent several backers and received equity in the tournament. Besides some super rich businessmen, who would have the bankroll anyways to play such a tournament completely on their own? And what exactly does the Hendon Mob profile tell us about the "real" winnings while keeping in mind all the deals that may never become public?

Backing / staking and sharing a percentage with fellow poker players has become quite common in bigger events on the live circuit, would regular Highroller tournaments even be possible without? At online poker it has been established for years already through platforms such as "ChipMeUp". Another project to jump into this market starts pretty aggressive as of lately and if you play poker or regularly visit Facebook and / or Twitter, you may have very well already heard of "MyPokerSquad". They are also involved in the ISPT Wembley and the marketing team increases the reach with further national teams and staking opportunities almost every other week, where people can buy a part of the equity for live and online tournaments.

Some horses such as Gerald Karlic and Manuel Blaschke have already shown tremendous results while only risking a fraction of their bankroll to keep up the grind. Sounds like a win-win situation for everyone when the staked players continue to crush their tables, right? It does also highlight another trend - the online poker market is not booming anymore like half a decade ago and players have become by far more aware of variance and try to reduce the influence. Facebook and Twitter both have become a popular option to sell percentages for various events / packages and a certain trust is always required if you want to take a shot at increasing the bankroll without playing yourself.

Are there any golden rules that you should follow in order to avoid disappointments? Well, for one you can look up player stats easily and should not expect a Jackpot each time you invest money. It can be compared with the trading on the stock market and a calculated risk will always be there, after all you cannot rule out luck completely for the card game that we all love and hate so much. From a player point of view, you should obviously not oversell your action and also come up with a reasonable mark-up that represents your edge. Selling more than 50% may be good for the own bankroll when you are on a downswing, but if you hit that one big score it would also kill a nice payday and should rather be avoided. Unless of course you prefer to play for a minimum wage only.

Of course there are also "official" staking agreements and they are commonly known as Poker Pro contracts. Not every Team Pro of a poker site gets a Million Dollar in tournament buy-ins every year and doesn't have to pay back a dime if he / she binks a big event. It has become by far more difficult in the last few years to get a decent contract unless you are one of the Superstars in the business and can dictate some of the conditions by default with your name and reputation. The reality behind the scenes would suggest that this only happens for very few players and the other players have to work hard to maintain their status and represent a brand.

The average Joe is not concerned by any of this and they are the players where you can verify the true winnings by far more easily because they simply use their own money and no other services. You get those daydreams come true when an unknown player wins one of the huge tournament series that take place several times a year. A lot of (semi) professional poker players also take advantage of the huge variety of Online Satellites for live events and gain entry for a fraction of the Buy-In plus have their travel expenses covered already, which can be quite some relief and may lead to a better quality of play with less reasons to worry.

You could name a lot of those Serial Qualifiers, but one player has to be highlighted because he is not only a true gentleman but also very consistent player and shows that not only 21 year old internet kids with sunglasses and hoodies can keep up with the pace: Pierre Neuville - it is no surprise that the Belgian leads the ranking for most cashes in his home country.