High Stakes –

The Big Business of Backing

Wall Street Journal pulls back the curtain on the world of staking.

Selling pieces, swaping and being backed…these are some of the little talked about agreements that poker players engage in to stay in action, to lower their variance or to even have more to sweat.

This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal took a deeper look into the private deals of poker players and how sometimes they bet on the hands of others, even if they happen to be playing against them.

Read: The Hidden Game Behind Professional Poker

The article talks about how Daniel Negreanu spent roughly $2 million during the 2011 World Series of Poker backing various horses in a variety of events. Even though these are some of the same players he faced at the same table, he says his investment in their success never took away from how hard he would play against them.

Two years ago, he says, he invested about $2 million in 10 players at the World Series of Poker, and at times he has played against some of those he has backed in tournaments. “I play against them as hard as I play against someone I don’t even know,” he says.

Despite handing over large sums of money to fellow players, sometimes staking is done with a contract but quite often, among poker players, it’s done with a handshake.

Done sometimes with written contracts but often with a simple handshake, staking usually involves paying the entry fee known as the buy-in to tournaments over the course of a year, in exchange for 50 percent to 70 percent of the player’s earnings. If the player loses, he typically pays back the investor with all of his future winnings until the slate is clean.

The article touches on more than simply what staking or swaping is but how it’s done and if experts think that professionals can really play as hard as possible against a player they have a stake in. The piece features insight from Daniel Negreanu, Faraz Jaka, Seth Palansky and Brian Balsbaugh among others and is a nice read into poker’s secondary economy.

published 3 years, 2 months ago • by permalink

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