Hi All,





I was reading through the staking section here on PSO recently, and it was apparent that not a lot of members know much about staking.   Or at least, there are a number of members to which staking is a new thing.  So the thought occurred to me that maybe a blog entry on staking advice would be helpful.  This isn’t an all-inclusive list of course, but I hope that it will give you some food for thought and a place to start, whether you are a looking to be a stake others, or seeking stake.

Let’s start with some tips for those who are looking to be staked.  Obtaining staking is in a way about selling yourself.  Most people willing to stake someone in poker games are interested in a potential return (profit) on their money, and while they should understand there are no guarantees in staking even the best of players, will want to feel confident you provide such opportunity.   So with that being said, here are some tips to get you started:

1.  Read the Staking Section Rules!   Do this first.  Every staking arena, including ours here at PSO, have rules that must be abided by in order to participate.  They are not the same from forum to forum, so it’s important to learn what you can and can’t do before you get started.  Failing to familiarize yourself with the rules will likely lead you to breaking them.  Not only does this get you in trouble with the mods, but it doesn’t reflect well on you to potential stakers.   The more level of professionalism, or even just general attention to detail that you demonstrate, the more confidence a potential staker will have in you handling their money!  Dropping the ball on step 1 doesn’t instill confidence.

2.  Present yourself in a positive, yet not over the top manner.   There was actually a poster  a while back who started out their stake offer by saying something to the effect that their last  couple weeks had been a rollercoaster of variance, bad beats, and mega-tilting off their stacks.  Call me silly, but I don’t think this is an optimal lead in to asking people for backing in poker tournaments.   So I would say telling would be investors you are on mega-tilt is a definite don’t (although they do appreciate the info lol).  Some Do’s:  Explain why you’re looking for staking.   Provide a link to your stats from sites like officialpokerrakings  or pokerprolabs.  It is against the rules of PSO’s forums to post stats of other players, but you can post your own.  Shrewd investors will look you up anyway to see if you’re a sound investment.  And make sure to opt-in on these sites, so investors can see the whole story!  To not do so may come off as trying to hide something, and that’s not going to help sell others on the idea of investing in your game.  Don’t try to over-sell yourself though… just put the info out there.  No one likes doing business with the stereo typical used car salesman, so don’t be pushy or full of baloney or it will turn off potential investors.

3. Make a clear, concise plan, and stick to it.  Need to have flexibility?  That’s fine, build it into your plan.  I did this for the live WSOP package I ran at PSO this summer.  It was actually essential, since I had listed events that would be on day 2 or 3 of other events in the package, so obviously if things were going well in an event I might have to miss another on the list.  So I put in a simple clause that if I didn’t play an event on the schedule, which would be my option (I might choose to skip one if sick for instance), I would update investors before the start of the event, and substitute (at my discretion) events of type X (lessor value), notifying investors before those events started!  And any monies not used towards buy ins would be refunded to investors.  This gave investors a clear schedule to follow, and me the flexibility necessary to maximize our return on investment, while keeping investors fully informed every step of the way.

4. Take some of it yourself. If you're offering a package of $100 total buy ins (or whatever), reserving 50% of it for yourself up front will help sell more... It shows investors you have confidence, and also adds a level of comfort for an investor when the horse has some of their own money on the line as well. It doesn't have to be 50%, more or less is fine, but the more you invest in yourself, the more confidence other investors are likely to have.

5. Offer a higher % commensurate with the risk. If you are asking for 100% of the buy ins to be paid by your investors,  you are assuming 0% of the risk while asking for some % of the reward.  You are probably wanting to play for something other than just the VPP's on the juice, but if you're asking investors to take 100% of the risk, then consider offering them most of the reward. 85/15 or even 90/10 is a nice split. I realize 10% doesn't seem like much, but remember if investors put up 100% of the buy ins, you are freerolling... 10% of the prize pools in large field MTT's probably pay significantly better than freerolling the old fashioned way.  

6. Pay back promptly.  When the stake is over, ship back any funds to investors as soon as possible. 

7. Don’t run.  If things don’t go as planned, you make some mistakes, whatever… never run from the problem.  Be open and honest with your investors.  And if you used their money in a way other than intended for the stake, plan to pay it back. (Note: this does not mean losing the money playing the schedule you set… it means using the money to play the wrong games, higher buy ins, or some other unintended purpose).  Even if you need some time to get them paid, they will appreciate it a lot more than you rolling them (“rolling” is a staking term that means stealing the investors money… whether you kept it or lost it playing stuff you weren’t supposed to).  Rolling will probably get you banned from other staking sites too.  Be honorable, and do the right thing.

And now a few pointers for investors, looking for some horses to stake:

1. Read the rules of the staking forum!   Yes, same step 1 for both parties.

2. Do your homework!  Staking can be both a fun and profitable endeavor, if done right.  Do look up a potential horse’s stats.  Do ask them questions if something is unclear or doesn’t seem right.  Don’t be afraid to take a shot on a horse that doesn’t have the best stats in the world, but make sure you’re comfortable with the arrangement.

3. Once in a stake, keep track of your horse.   This is an individual thing obviously… some stakers like to keep close tabs on their horses progress and the games they’re playing, and some stakers are more care free about things.  Still, if the stake is going to cover multiple days, it makes sense to keep an eye that things are progressing as expected.

4. Don’t micro-manage your horse.  It’s ok and expected for you to keep on top of what’s going on, but give your horse room to breath, too.  You can keep tabs on things without questioning their every move.  You want your horse relaxed and confident, not feeling pressured and second guessing every move they make. 

5. Understand the risks.  There is no guarantee of making money in a staking arrangement.  Especially in tournament poker, even a world class player can go a long time without a big score in large field mtt’s.  If you want to mitigate variance, stick to staking arrangements that minimize variance.  Backing someone in a series of 100 single table sng’s will have much less variance than a series of mtt’s with thousands of runners.  Of course the top side is limited as well then… a horse who is playing single table sng’s has a ceiling on their profit by the simple nature of the game format, that comes with the territory in this reduced variance format.   A horse that is playing a series of huge field mtt’s is less likely to return a profit, simply because the variance is so high in that format, but the sky is the limit on their ceiling… a home run in one of the events can see the horse returning a massive profit on the investment.

6. Start small.  If you’re new to staking, or new to a particular horse, starting with small investments is prudent to limit your risk, and also to build some trust with a horse before staking them to larger amounts of money.  When you know a horse well, you may have a strong trust level that they will handle your money properly, using it for the games intended, give their “A” game at all times, and pay back promptly when the stake is done.  Starting small with a new horse, especially if they have no staking reputation established, helps limit your risk if they don’t do the right things with their staking money, while giving you time to see exactly how they operate and  allowing some trust to be established.

I think this is all I want to cover for now, but certainly welcome any feedback or other ideas, just reply to the blog.  While the staking format available here in the PSO forums is limited to what our staking rules allow, I may do a follow up blog article about additional types of staking, covering things like stake back, make up, etc.