Somerville, Mercier, Wade Talk Best Practices for Staking Deals

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Jason Somerville (photo courtesy of WPT)

Staking arrangements are commonplace in poker, and for the most part things tend to work out. That said, there are disagreements between parties that do occur, such as the recent dispute with Cate Hall and Chad Power involving a $60,000 makeup figure.

The best way to resolve these issues may not be so commonly known, and it’s important to do your due diligence before you dive into a staking deal so you and your backer can avoid any headaches down the road. Here is what some players with extensive experience believe.

“From a staker’s point of view, you want to be confident that your horse is profitable in the events they are competing in and holds a record of integrity,” Jason Somerville said when asked what to look out for before entering a staking deal. “There is a ton of trust in staking, and as an investor, you need to be sure your horse will treat the investment professionally and as if it were their own money (or better). As a horse, you want to be sure your investor has sufficient funds to survive standard variance and will be easy to communicate with.”

When it comes to makeup, it can be handled in different ways depending on the deal between the parties involved. Somerville, who has lots of experience with staking arrangements, said there are often a lot of questions to be answered regarding makeup, but that it’s important to agree upon these terms ahead of time.

“Discussing what happens to makeup in different scenarios is important before you agree to terms of the deal,” Somerville said. “I’ve had horses quit poker and you can’t really do anything about it, except that if they return to poker they return to makeup. It’s usually up to the backer if they want to quit or not, and if they do then typically makeup vanishes at the end of the agreement. It’s important to hammer out these issues beforehand — can makeup be transferred/sold? Can the horse potentially keep a small piece of their action, separate from the stake? Does makeup just expire at the end of a certain period? It’s key to nail this before settling on a deal.”

Another Jason, Jason Mercier, mentioned dealing with a makeup figure generally comes down to who wants out. If the player is the one who wants out, he or she should work out a deal to buy the makeup from the backer — known as a buyout. In cases where the player may simply want to play poker less, he or she should give the backer the option to still stake the person. If it’s the backer who calls off the deal, the player often assumes no makeup.

Natasha Mercier, Jason’s wife and also a poker player, replied to a thread on Twitter involving a situation Cate Hall and Chad Power are in echoing her husband’s comments: “Jason had that happen with multiple [people]. They don’t owe, but when they play he gets to choose if he wants it on the stake.”

Other pros we talked said similar things. Tristan Wade agreed, in that the common result simply comes down to who is the one deciding to end the backing arrangement.

“Usually, if a backer wants to end an agreement with a horse, the backer can either try to sell the makeup or drop the horse and lose out on all the makeup,” Wade said. “If a horse wants to end the agreement, then a backer might let the horse pay [a percentage] of the makeup to get out of the deal.”