I think there have been cases where the player puts up half and the staker puts up the other half and they split the winnings 50/50 (or close to that) but what of 100% where the player puts up nothing but his time and skill? I certain see a player who has no money and no prospects willing to take just 10 or 20% of himself since the alternative is not playing at all.

  • this question is a bit unclear to me. If a player has 0% of themselves, they would have no compensation for their time and no motivation to win. A player could take a small portion of themselves in even very large buy in events (1-5% of $10k+ event) for very cheap, so even players with no bankroll can still be involved assuming they find someone to stake them for the rest.
    – Clarko
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 17:20
  • yes, but i never suggested zero percent. if someone said, i'll put you into the 10k event and the person had no other way of playing, i see no reason that the staker would have to pay anywhere near 50% -- 5% while not generous or perhaps even fair would definitely work for many people. I guess when a player could put themselves in or could find a better deal, 5% would not work. But I as the staker especially for a huge potential payout want a contract and also assurances that i am the only one putting them in (it has happened that people have sold more than 100% of themselves...)
    – releseabe
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 17:43
  • could you clarify your question? i can't tell what you are asking.
    – Clarko
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 20:18
  • cant be more clear than the title.
    – releseabe
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 20:50
  • did you mean to say something like "what is the average % stake a player sells?" or "how much stake should i buy in a player?". I would like to answer your question, so if you could reword it in a way that makes the question more clear i would appreciate it.
    – Clarko
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 0:16

3 Answers 3


Well, it depends on how stupid you are! Staking poker players is based on two principals:

  1. The guy can turn $1.00 into $2.00
  2. Yet, for some reason... this savant doesn't have any money of his own and would like to share his future profits with you [even though he can turn $1 into $2].

lol! I've been around hundred of stakers and backers, and had intimate knowledge of the deals. Some work out by chance. Roughly 100% are -EV deals for either one or both parties. [Well, 99.9%, there are exceptions]

The "standard" deal is 50%/50% with makeup. Makeup, means the horse has to win back his loses and make a profit before he's paid. Also standard, is for the "pro" to reset his makeup by finding a new backer once he's in the hole. If you win, you split the profits. If you lose, quit on the guy and find another sucker.

Once the pro is out of the hole, the profits are split 50%/50%... FOR LIFE. So this is a guy, who can turn $1 into $2, but who agrees that once he's out of the hole, and has his own money [due to the wonderful profit you've made together], this guy wants to STILL pay you 50%, even though he now has his own cash to enter. In the future, the relationship of the winning pro will devolve into him handing stacks of cash to the backer for eternity.

The best part about this whole tale, is the idiocy of many modern kids. It used to be understood that backing was a SCAM. Guys would gladly [and still do!] sell off 700% of themselves and then intentionally tank, dumping chips to their buddy who doesn't have makeup.

These delusionals now think that playing poker is a sport. If you're the TWICE AS GOOD AS THE BEST PLAYER IN HISTORY how much of an edge is that in a big tournament? 3%? Let's say it's 5% - it's more like 0.5%, but let's just say it's 5%. Your earn, before taxes, on a $10k, 3 day event, is $500. $500 before taxes, and before the split, on a 3 day event before expenses. Thats big 10k events. Good luck in your $150 events.

This is the reason cash game players think tournament "pros" are idiots.

See you on the rail!

  • Of course casual deals preclude makeup. I am glad I am out a trivial amount -- what would suck would be staking someone for a significant amount and discovering "The Producers" scam occurred or that they win but don't pay up. The only thing protecting you is their concern about reputation. One thing is deals at a satellite -- I have never been screwed but I expect it to happen that when we agree to a split and he wins, he doesn't split the tokens with you. I think of the terrible cheaters who are involved with the game (Russ Hamilton) and know they will do what they can get away with.
    – releseabe
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 23:35
  • True. Most casual players have no idea how corrupt poker is. Cheating is institutional in poker.
    – John Dee
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 0:07
  • Russ Hamilton is one of the most egregious, biggest examples but there is a lot more in which well-known players, including former world champs, are involved in. I have never met bigger scum than Men Nguyen and/or Scotty Nguyen. Terrible people and cheaters who somehow have others speaking up for them.
    – releseabe
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 1:07
  • Your number 2 bullet point is great. I never understood why anybody would want to give up their win to be staked, or why anybody thinks a player that needs staking is a good bet. Of course sometimes it pays off, Scotty Nguyen was staked the year he won, in fact he was staked 200%, but it worked out for everyone... Especially Scotty baby.
    – Jon
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 13:08
  • I was there at the Trump Taj Mahal when Mem Nguyen won the first big tournament on the East coast. There was a rail setup for spectators, which was only inches away from where the players sat. Card rooms OFTEN collude with cheaters. This old man jumps up in front of everybody screaming, "I see what you're doing! I see what you're doing!". Mem had one of his boys literally leaning over one player's shoulder, giving Mem the office across from him. Mahem erupted and the final table play had to be stopped.
    – John Dee
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 19:17

You base the split on the skill of the player, and the split of the stake.

If a player is middle of the road, compared to all other players, then the players 'skill' commands no premium, so split should be whatever the split of the stake was. If entry was paid 50/50 winnings should split 50/50. Now you might say that this means no payment to player, but the player wasn't worth anything since he has no positive expected value against the field anyway.

If a player is above average (say better than 75% of field), then the amount paid to the player should be higher than the stakes would suggest (player pays 25% but gets 50% of the profit, staker pays 75% of stake, but only gets 25% of profit).

If a player is below average (say worse than 75% of the field), then the amount the player should get below what the stakes would suggest (player stakes 75% thsemselves but only gets 50% of the winnings).


It varies on a case by case basis such as how good is the player being staked as well as how savvy the staker and stakee are. The better the player the higher of a % they would demand. As others remarked, a lot of staking is for somewhat longterm deals rather than for an individual event and involves makeup which others have described (i.e the stakee only makes money if the staker is not down over the course of the stake).

Responding to some of the other comments people made regarding why someone would seek to be staked if they were good enough to make it on their own. The answer to that is much more complex but if the stake is for tournaments, tournaments have a very high variance and a player with an edge could take quite sometime for that edge to be realized. By getting staked they reduce their variance and could play more tournaments than they would otherwise be able to play given their bankroll.

As others have mentioned, staking people in tournaments can be a pretty risk endeavor unless you know the player you are staking truly has an edge in the tournament and won't pull shady moves like some others have highlighted. It's definitely a caveat emptor decision. I have heard some horror stories while I have heard of other arrangements that worked out well for all of the parties involved. If the amount being staked is a significant amount of money then I think it is important to work out the full details in advance and only do it with someone you can truly trust. I think staking someone for an individual tournament is pretty much a crapshoot (since tournaments in general are a bit of a crapshoot anyway) and the more successful staking arrangements tend to involve a series of tournaments (or in cash games, a certain duration of time/hours played). You want to have a reasonable opportunity for the stakee to actually have a deep run and expecting that in any specific tournament is naive.

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