Poker Staking 101

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Poker Staking Poker staking is an aspect of poker that you should definitely learn about, as well as get into if you have the bankroll.

I should know. The entire time I played poker online I was involved with staking. I was staked twice, by two different coaches/stables. I also partnered with my second backer to back, coach and manage other players.

So believe me when I tell you that the knowledge can come in handy. You might find that one day you run into an issue with your bankroll or want to play a game that you think you’re profitable in but can’t front the cash for. Maybe you want to diversify your income by investing in other players.

Whatever the reason, before you get to that point I recommend reading my Poker Staking 101 intro below. I cover the basics to poker staking for tournament and sit and go players. It might help you one day.

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What is Staking?

Staking in poker is very simple. A stake is just another way of saying short term loan. One person gives another person a bankroll to play poker with. In some cases it’s a group of investors that have pooled their money together much like a venture capital firm. They invest in many players that they have researched and deemed possible to turn a profit off of.

And just like a loan, a stake will come with terms and conditions. Terms can include things like what games can be played, the amount of the bankroll, if the player will owe makeup, how often he or she must split profits, how many games they will play and most importantly of all, the cut between the investor and horse.

Why Mess With Poker Staking?

This will depend on which side of the fence you’re on – as an investor or as a horse.

As an investor, staking other players is creating another source of income. It’s like investing in stocks. You want to find a good player to give money to, and hope that they perform well enough to be able to ship you your money back plus a profit.

Find and invest into enough solid players and you can create yourself a semi-passive income. In fact, 2016 WSOP Main Event runner-up Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy has actually made millions staking pro players online and live for years now.

If you’re a player, investing into other players is a great way to bring stability into your life. Poker players are so used to dealing with swings, that by investing into other players, you can have an income that can lessen the waves you experience from month to month.

Don’t get me wrong – that’s not to say that there aren’t swings investing into other players. They’re clearly playing the same game you are. However, the more players you invest in the smaller those swings should be too. And as a player yourself, that should make choosing players to invest into much easier.

On the other hand, if you’re a player you might want to get staked because you have no money of your own to play. Many players get started that way – they get staked for a few hundred games, get some coaching and then take off on their own. I’ve also known players to get staked because they ran into financial hardship and needed money to keep going, either in general or just at the stakes they prefer to play.

Some players just prefer to play on someone else’s money. It’s a mental thing. Playing on your own money can be harder because you have to deal with the whole win/loss thing, which can be even harder to deal with when you’re dealing with swings.

And for the rest, staking can help players move up in stakes faster. If a player is skilled enough to play higher, they’re technically losing money by not playing higher. Even if they take a staking deal they can be making a higher hourly by taking a shot at higher stakes.

The bottom line is that there are few reasons why you shouldn’t deal with staking, and most of that comes down to you, how you manage your money and risk.

How Poker Staking Works

The process of staking is very simple. It will be a little different depending on whether you’re playing online or live, but for the most part this is how it go:

  • Someone needs money and someone has money to give. They find each other through a forum, advertising, word of mouth, etc.
  • Terms are created. The investor and player agrees to the number and type of games to be played, how much the bankroll will be, if there will be coaching included or not, how often profits must be split, whether the player will owe makeup and what the cuts will be.
  • The player is given money. If the player loses the bankroll and makeup is agreed on, the player must pay back the money before anyone can profit.
  • Once all the games have been played and the original bankroll (at least) is there, then the horse gives back the original bankroll and the two parties can go their separate ways.

That’s the basic gist of staking. There is much more to it depending on whether you’re the investor or horse. I go over both of these in more detail in their own separate articles.


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Poker Staking Terms & Definitions

I used quite a few terms above that might’ve left you scratching your head. So I’ve listed those immediately below along with their definitions.

  • Backer – Another term for investor. Someone who gives money to others to play poker with.
  • Bankroll – The money loaned to the poker player to play with.
  • Cut – The percentage of the profits that both parties get. This can vary from 50/50 to as top-heavy as 80/20. This will depend on the amount being loaned, how many games are being played, reputation and skill level.
  • Horse – A name for the player being staked.
  • Makeup – Another way of saying that if the horse loses the original bankroll, he or she must pay it back before profiting with that specific investor.
  • Stable – Goes hand in hand with the term horse. A stable is a group of horses being staked by the same investor(s).
  • Stake – Another term for an investment made into a horse.

I hope these terms help. Please let us know if you need any clarity, or need other terms defined.