It’s beyond doubt that the game of poker is enjoying real boom today. One only has to look at the record attendances at last summer’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas to see that this is the case.
Many reasons have been put forward for the phenomenon but one of the main ones must be the astonishing growth of the online game. This has introduced many to poker who, previously, may have felt slightly intimidated by its reputation as a game played in smoky backrooms against unsmiling opponents.
Alongside this, it also has a far higher media profile than ever before with televised tournaments, magazine programs, poker books, and expert tutorials both on broadcast and online channels.
The winnings that players can look forward to have also seen a huge spike, with the $8 million carried off by the winner of the 2016 WSOP Main Event, Qui Nguyen, being a case of point. The sheer number of tournaments being played has also seen an exponential growth over the last few years and, although prize pots are more likely to be in the hundreds of thousands rather than the millions, there are still some very strong incentives to enter.
Unsurprisingly, this has attracted non-players keen to explore the money-making potential of the game through investing in likely winners.
The way it works is simple. An investor identifies a player who seems to be having a good run of success and agrees to put up a proportion of their buy-in for a tournament in return for a similar percentage of any winnings that they make.
Players and investors are naturally reluctant to talk too much about successes that they’ve enjoyed but one known example is the player Daniel Negreanu who received 13% backing and went on to win $8.2 million in the 2014 Big One for One Drop – a very nice pay-day for his backer too.
This chance of big returns is the obvious motivation for the investor, but it’s a far from straightforward process that needs to be considered carefully.
For example choosing a good prospect to back is a very tricky feat indeed. After all, really successful players probably don’t need backers. There’s also the question of how watertight the agreement between the player and the backer will be. Often these are informal and rely on the honesty of both sides. Finally, there are the tax considerations with individual liability being far from certain.
Having said all this, it’s obviously a system that’s working for some. And, with poker continuing to grow in popularity, we’ll almost certainly be seeing much more of it in the future.