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Three Reasons You Should Avoid Getting Staked in Poker

Some of you may have heard the staking controversy surrounding Nick Marchington, the seventh-place finisher from the 2019 WSOP Main Event. A staking group is suing him after he canceled a staking agreement for the Main Event due to his being able to find someone that would buy his action at a higher markup.

This controversy has shown some light on the world poker staking and brings us to today’s topic. Many feel that staking is a good way to play in live poker tournaments, but the reality is that it has both positive and negative impacts on one’s poker career. Today we will begin a two-part series looking at poker staking. This week, we will give you some reasons why you should not consider being staked in poker tournaments.

You’re Putting Yourself in Debt

One of the biggest caveats to getting staked in poker tournaments is that you are putting yourself into debt in order to play poker. The way that a typical staking deal works is that someone puts you into a poker tournament in exchange for a percentage of your action. For example, if someone agrees to pay a $500 buy-in for your tournament, they will usually receive anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of your action.

It is rare that someone will get a 50-50 split in a staking deal. The exception is for someone that has a winning history established. In addition to the percentage, a player is often on the hook for the buy-in. The backer is entitled to a percentage of your winnings plus “make-up,” which must be paid.

The problem with make-up is that it is cumulative. If someone buys you into three $500 tournaments and then you win an event for $5,000, you will owe the backer $3,000 for winnings plus $1,500 in make-up. In other words, you will clear $500.

Many poker players fall deep into debt with a backer and never are able to pay their debts. This often leads the player to go to another backer and falling even deeper in debt.

You Don’t Learn Bankroll Management Skills

Another problem with staking is that poker players that are regularly backed into poker tournaments and cash games seldom learn how to properly manage a bankroll. Players are often staked because they are not able to afford to play otherwise and they rely on other people’s money to play poker.

The problem with this is that when an agreement goes south or a player runs into a bad streak of luck and loses their staking, they are unable to play at the stakes they were accustomed to. They then have little or no clue how to build a bankroll.

You May Not Improve Your Game

Another regular problem experienced by players that are regularly staked is that sometimes they get stuck at a certain level or find themselves unable to improve at poker. Players that have this problem are usually those that do not value the backer’s money and they tend to play a much looser style than players that are trying to manage their bankroll or those that have all of their own action.

One reason this happens is that a player figures that if they are good enough to get staked, by one person, they will continue to get staked and don’t try to improve their game. The goal of a player that is getting stakes is to get yourself to the point where you can play on your own dime. The problem with some players is they don’t work towards this goal and are fine with using someone else’s money. They become complacent and end up never moving on to the next level.

Next week, we will take a look at some advantages to being staked in live poker tournaments. See you then!

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