If you had ever heard about staking when you first started playing poker, you probably asked yourself a couple questions: Why would any winning player want to reduce his income and share a percentage of his profits with an investor? Why would any backer trust any person that is looking for money to play poker?
However, after a while, you come to realize that some opportunities come to you from being staked that you otherwise would not have. Maybe you are a good tournament player and dream about winning the WSOP Main Event, but can’t afford the $10,000 buy-in. Even among the world’s top high rollers, there are often staking deals in play, which enable the pros to take seats at prestigious five- and six-figure buy-in events around the world. Obviously, staking is not for everybody, as decent winning poker players with sizable bankrolls who are confident enough in themselves and value complete freedom would not benefit from sharing a huge portion of their income and becoming a “horse” in a “stable,” at least not full time. However, even in cases like this, it may be a good idea to consider staking in certain specific situations, on a restricted basis. To help you understand those situations, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 reasons you should consider getting staked to play poker.
1. So you don’t have to risk your own money
Playing on someone else’s dime can help you better deal with variance and play under less pressure. For some people not risking your own funds causes you to play more at ease and therefore, much better.
Obviously, this is not as easy as it sounds. From a mindset point of view, there are times that losing investor’s money can hurt even more than losing yours. And in most staking agreements there is a make-up clause. This means that you have to win back money you lost first in previous cash games or tournaments (for your backer) before you can profit; and if you fall deeply into make-up, there are only four ways of getting out of it: winning consistently, getting dropped by your backer, paying back from your own pocket, or quitting poker.
Some people seem to believe that selling action, especially for lowerstakes stuff, is bad/weak/silly/nitty/etc?
My rule of thumb for what I play and how much I have is based on what my personal poker bankroll is at.
This roll I keep entirely separate from my life roll.
— Ryan Laplante🏳️🌈 (@Protentialmn) March 28, 2018
2. If you find yourself having to start a new bankroll
The following question may appear strange: How can a winning player find himself in a situation in which he has no money to play poker?
This is a rare occurrence, but it happens. There are instances in which something bad happens in your life and you must cover large expenses, such as family health crises. Maybe you’ve received an insanely interesting business offer and have decided to invest your poker money into it. Or perhaps you are just a MTT player, where variance is enormous, on long downswing and your life expenses caused your to deplete your funds. Whatever happened, if you have good explanation to present to your potential backer, demonstrating to him that you are long-term winning poker player will often give you a good chance of getting staked.
The alternative is depositing small amount of money online or even playing freerolls to try to climb back towards the higher stakes on your own; it’s usually a worse choice, as this takes a relatively long time and there’s also ‘opportunity cost’ if you’re good enough to beat high stakes games and neglect to play them.
Just reflecting on how supportive my wife was of selling our house 2 years ago, moving across the country, and using the money from our home sale to fund my poker bankroll. Pretty amazing woman. Fortunately I didn't literally lose the house. Yet.
— Chase Bianchi (@Chase_Bianchi) November 21, 2017
3. To play for higher stakes
If you are a winning player at your current stakes, you probably have already started thinking about moving up. Sometimes it is tough to do, though: you have to cash out regularly because you play for a living and you need money to pay bills. In this case, staking can help you take shots at higher stakes and make more money or simply compete with others on a higher level. This is something that even the best poker players in the world do: they sell actions to nosebleed-stakes cash games or high roller tournaments, which allows them to make bigger profits and find more sponsors to support their game.
Each day is a higher stakes poker game.
— Nasir (@NasirAhmed___) March 16, 2018
4. To try a new poker variant/format
No one said staking has to be ongoing. You could try to get staked on a one-off or temporary basis while you test out your skills playing a new poker variant before you decide to move into it on your own. While this is not 100% akin to a situation where you’ll try play money games at an online casino or poker room before trying real money play, getting staked does share that common denominator of there being a lot less risk to assume on your own. Getting staked offers you a comfortable situation wherein you can test your skills and figure out your potential winrate in a new poker variant, as well as whether you will enjoy it or not, without losing big.
5. To make money even without winning
In poker’s staking world there is something called markup. For example, let’s take a case where you’d decide to sell half of your action in a $1,000 buy-in tournament. But, rather than sell your action at “face value,” you instead sell at a rate of 1.2:1. This means that you will receive $600 instead of $500 from investors. It isn’t easy to get markup, but if you are a very good player, it is certainly possible to convince investors that you’re a good bet. Put plainly, if people see added value in staking you, you can get paid for it. Thus, in our example above, if you wouldn’t cash in the tournament you’d lose your $500 but also “make $100 back” from people staking you.
When you see a poker pro selling their package at markup arrive 2 hrs late to the tourney after three of the fish have already busted pic.twitter.com/oNY7sjMcRZ
— Thomas Fuller (@gnightmoon) June 27, 2017
6. To get “free” coaching
There are many staking deals that offer a bonus of free coaching from the backer(s). Sometimes backers are even willing to invest into breakeven or slightly losing players because they see the potential of turning the horses into winning players.
Thus, if you get staked, even if you end up losing you still keep what you’ve learned from your coaching sessions with the backers. Strictly speaking, you can certainly develop your poker career a lot faster if you learn and internalize lessons from great poker players.
7. To make new friends and foster valuable relationships
Many investors offer staking for groups of players, connecting them, for example, via Skype/Slack channels. There are three types of relationships that you can have with your colleagues in these groups.
- Genuine friends – You can find friends with whom you simply socialize and party, or even live together and travel the world.
- Poker friends – You can find serious-minded people with whom you will improve your mutual poker skills. To that effect, you can join or create your own study group.
- Business associates – Even if you are not looking for the kind of relationships mentioned above, you need to remember that poker is a business, and if you want to be successful in business, you usually can’t do it alone.
Maybe one day you will decide to stop playing poker professionally and make money in poker different way. Often, you may discover that someone in your staking group from “back in the day” will prove to be a great business associate for a joint venture.
The biggest poker staking and coaching companies have tons of experience when it comes to business: they hire many employees, they back a lot of players, and they often look for new opportunities to make money. Moreover, observing how investors manage their business and how contracts and agreements are constructed can help you become an investor yourself someday.
One other thing to mention here, relationships you’ve made in poker could potentially grant you access to better deals and more profitable games. For example, maybe you are not sure which online poker room or variant/format you should choose. Your backers may give you some very helpful advice, from which you could derive a tidy profit.
8. To get back into poker slowly after a break
If you’ve had a long break from poker and you’ve decided to get back to it, getting staked can be a sensible way to dip your toes back in the water before you start playing on your own. Specifically, it can make things easier as you get back into the right mind frame to succeed at the felt.
— PokerNews (@PokerNews) February 24, 2017
9. To help facilitate deposits and withdrawals
In many cases, getting staked can help make it easier for you to deal with deposits and withdrawals. When I mean by that is the following: backers are responsible for funds. Handling large sums of cash or wire transfers in brick and mortar rooms or experiencing any technical issues with payments in online poker rooms is “no longer problem.” Based on the particulars of your staking agreement, you may get paid by your backer after a big win even if they have to wait for their funds (your winnings) to arrive.
10. To build a “staking CV”
The more successful stake agreements you had in the past, the more likely you are to get staked again. Having a solid reputation is worth its weight in gold in the poker world. Word of mouth travels quickly in the staking community, and if you’re a solid bet with proven results, you won’t have trouble finding backers to stake you.
What’s more, the better your results over long stretches of time, the better agreements and you will be able to negotiate in your staking deals: playing for higher stakes, better markups, and percentages of profit shares.
As described above, getting staked has its pros and cons. It’s important to take into consideration your personal situation before you decide to sign a staking contract. Remember that the higher the limits you’re playing for, the easier it is (due to variance) to get stuck in make-up for very large amounts of money. On the other hand, of course, staking can help you take shots in games you only have dreamed of (which you’re capable of beating but have never had the right bankroll for), develop your poker career and skills faster, make new relationships and business opportunities, or come to the rescue when you lose your bankroll for some reason.