The poker industry got a little love in the mainstream media with a 22-minute video piece by CNBC titled "Who Makes Money from Professional Poker?" The piece goes deeper into the business side of being a professional including staking and included interview bites with Ryan LaPlante, Derek Wolters, and Jeff Gross.
CNBC, one of most-influential financial networks, went in depth to explain poker staking to the square world. Just think about having to explain poker staking to your grandparents and that's what this piece attempted to achieve. It was tough enough to explain that the pros on TV don't always win the amount advertised. CNBC did a decent job trying to explain it to the non-poker world.
Ryan LaPlante, Jeff Gross, Derek Wolters, and Lisa Costello were among the pros that CNBC interviewed. They helped shape the story with personal stories and explanations of what goes down behind the scenes in poker.
Staking and backing is a core element to the professional world. It's a weird catch-22 world on both sides of the coin in which you're trying to get good enough to garner interest in being staked, but if you're doing well enough, you don't really need staking. But when you do get a stake because you're in debt, you finally win something but it's a smaller cut than you'd normally get, but you wouldn't be in that spot without getting staked.
"Everyone I know who is in poker is at least selling action, or swapping action, or staked full time," said Tyler Hancock, owner of Stake Kings.
"Staking and swapping are the lifeblood of tournament poker," said gaming attorney Mac VerStandig.
Derek Wolters said he won a piece of Jake Balsiger when he finished third in the 2012 WSOP Main Event. Wolters had 17% and banked over $700K. As a backer, Wolters pointed out it can be a passive income and "all encompassing partnership" with his friends and horses.
Lisa Costello explained make up involved in her 50/50 split with her backing syndicate where she was one of several stables of players.
LaPlante is backed by Team651. Under his staking deal, LaPlante banked $2.5 million and a bracelet, but he took home roughly $1 million.
LaPlante said his worst situation involved being $90K in makeup. At that point, he hunkered down and went on a heater to get unstuck and above water.
The make up is what often where pros get in trouble and get deeper and deeper underwater. The colder they run, the deeper in debt they get. Now more than ever, they need the backer's assistance. Sometimes players get dropped by their backer, but then they find another stake and that's when things get even more complicated because you have debt on the books with one syndicate, while on the hook for the current backer.
It's not easy to cash in a poker tournament, especially one as big as the WSOP. I cashed in a WSOP event where I got staked and it sucked having to peel off an extra $1,500 to pay back the backer on top of their 50% cut. It was tough enough busting from a multi-day event, but it sucked even harder knowing you're taking home a lot less than advertised. Alas, that's the deal you make if you decide to go down that route. After all, you're gambling with other people's money.
Regardless, as LaPlante pointed out poker staking "can offer the highest edges."
Watch the CNBC staking piece here...