Cash backed

Not sure if it’s worth staking your friend? Watch out, because there are some unwritten rules of agreement

Staking plan

I’ve been thinking about going pro recently and while I think I have the skills to succeed, the one thing I lack is a massive bankroll. A couple of my friends have agreed to stake me in some tournaments. Obviously we’re not going to write up contracts, but I was just wondering if there was a kind of ‘gold standard’ regarding the return that your investors are supposed to get?

Ben, via email

Normally if a friend puts you in completely, you split half the winnings. So suppose the buy-in is £1,000 and your mate pays it all: if you win £20,000 then you get 10k each. But sometimes the guy who puts up the money will take out the buy-in money first and then the rest is split. That’s perfectly legitimate as well. At the end of the day, you should be happy with around a 40% share if someone has put you into a tournament completely off their own back.

It’s more ambiguous in situations where the person playing puts money towards the buy-in as well. Say the staker puts £500 into the £1,000 buy-in. Logically it would seem that he should also get half the action. But no, if you are a good player and you’ve put up £500 yourself, then the staker should only really get around 30% of the winnings. After all, you’re the one who’s playing. The top players tend to give their backers around 15% or 20% of their winnings. Of course, there’s no concrete method of working out exactly how good someone is, but I would assume that whoever is doing the sponsorship would have to have some idea of the player’s track record and will deduce their level accordingly.

Over the years, my agreements have only ever been verbal and have only ever been with friends. If you’re in the same situation, then it is important you clarify exactly what is going to happen before you sit down to play with someone else’s money. Remember, either for poker or money, it’s not worth falling out with friends over.


As you probably know, there are masses of no-limit hold’em books out there at the moment – in fact there’s so many I don’t even know where to start. Can you recommend any to start me off?

Lisandro, via email

For me, the best no-limit hold’em books are the ‘Dan Harrington on Hold’em’ series – especially the first two volumes. For starters, they’re written by a man who has won the World Series and has made three final tables at the main event. Some of the concepts in his book – like calculating odds and your stack size relative to the other players – are ground-breaking. TJ Cloutier’s ‘Championship No-Limit & Pot-Limit Hold’em’ is not as technical, but gives an excellent introduction into playing at any stage of a tournament.

One thing I would say is that books are all well and good, but at the end of the day, there’s no better way to learn than by actually getting out there and playing yourself. There’s no substitute for sitting down for a few hours with great players. Don’t be afraid to go up to a good player after a game and ask them why they made a certain move – they’ll probably appreciate the fact that you were paying attention!

Heads-up headache

I was heads-up at the end of a 10-man sit&go recently with about 13,000 in chips whilst the other player had around 7,000. The blinds were 300/600. I get dealt 5-3 offsuit on the button. I raised to 2,000 (I’d found this was the sweet spot to make him fold). He calls. The flop comes K-J-4. He bets 1,400 and has 3,600 left. I don’t think he has the King, so I push him all in thinking that with him being a passive player he would fold. Do you think this was a bad move? What would you have done on the flop?

Matthew Hartbourne, via email

It’s hard enough to win with a hand, but it’s much harder to win without a hand. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t raise with a 5-3 offsuit, but when a supposedly passive player bets into you on a K-J-4 flop, having called your pre-flop raise, you have to think he has a piece of it. If he calls your all-in raise and wins the pot, you’ve allowed him to take complete control on account of a stone cold bluff. In tournament play, every chip is precious – so don’t waste a single one.


If you’ve got any poker problems – strategy, etiquette, anything at all – Willie will be only too happy to answer your questions.

Just drop him an email at WillieTann@dennis. or post to:

Willie Tann,
Poker Clinic, InsidePoker,
Dennis Publishing,
30 Cleveland St,
W1T 4JD.

Letters may be edited for length.

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