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Four poker fans each made $40,000 at the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event, and none of them ever touched the felt once. How did they do it? They staked Main Event champion, Scott Blumstein. Putting a small $60 stake on their old college buddy had a handsome return.
Considering the size of the Main Event buy-in, $10,000, four contributions of $60 each does not sound like much. The small stakes provided by Blumstein’s friends cannot be credited with enabling him to enter the tournament. However, the energy and emotional support attached to the money might have helped him win.
Staking a poker player is a lot more like investing than say, betting on a horse at the Derby. Backers provide poker players a portion of their tournament buy-in, and in exchange, they receive a percentage of the winnings.
Staking is not new, and it has exploded in popularity recently. According to MarketWatch, up to 80 percent of poker players in major tournaments are staked. Poker fans enjoy the thrill of having a vicarious hand in the action on the felt, and players benefit from both a reduced buy-in and additional encouragement.
Poker-pro Phil Hellmuth says he puts forth extra effort when he has backers, which is almost always. Hellmuth says he feels good when he knows he is making money for the people who supported him.
Fans can help a friend, like Blumstein’s college buddies, or stake their favorite poker pro. Players with great track records sometimes charge an extra fee, around 20 percent, just for the privilege of backing them. Stakes on popular sites such as YouStake start as low as $20.